My colleague’s elderly father, since he had decided to do nothing, began to drift into depression. He had begun to feel pointless, with nothing to hold him to any routine. He had many things to do, presumably—meet friends and travel—but he made little effort, when he could, to realise these plans.
At the end of each day, a sense of emptiness began to engulf him. Since he had denied all work assignments that had come his way, he had begun to feel professionally irrelevant. Subconsciously, this led him to assert himself more and unnecessarily at home. He inadvertently began to interfere with all of what others at home were doing, and give unwarranted advice.
This isn’t an uncommon situation, where people decide they have worked enough and now will do all the things they have always wanted to do and pursue. A few simple checks can help those in similar situations, irrespective of age, to stay happily easy and unstrained in their time off.
The first, simplest and most important step is to have a routine of sorts. Waking up at a certain time, getting out of bed and getting dressed for the day, however casually, is essential to an open, alert and poised state of mind. People who lounge around in their night suits through the day are more inclined to feel low and unworthy.
As an example of how well this may work, a few years ago, a friend’s grandfather would wake up early, go for a walk with an attendant, (he was 86 then), shower and shave and be dressed in a three piece suit, with tie, by 8:30.
He would have a leisurely, though measured, breakfast and would sit on a desk to read his three newspapers till noon. After lunch at 12:30, he would snooze for an hour, and browse through a magazine or step out to meet a friend over tea. Sometimes he would go over to the club for a game of bridge. After an early and light supper, he would stroll in the colony for half hour before settling in to watch the news or sport highlights for a bit, till he would drop off. He kept this up until, at 93, he passed away, still all there in his mind.
The fact that he stuck to a routine that included eating at fixed times and a measure of daily exercise lent balance to his mind, body and emotions. He kept his cheer and without imposing his views, was always good to talk to, on anything.
More importantly, his routine allowed him to keep his dignity. He had set himself things to do, and that kept him interested in his own business of getting on with the day.
Pursuing a hobby
For those who wish to be more active, pursuing one new thing can do wonders. Doing tactile things where the hands are in use does a lot to keep the mind and heart in balance as well. Or simply pay attention to all the things you do with your hands through the day, and do them mindfully—allowing them time to do them with grace.
For those who are interested, joining a language or any other study class can be fun. Besides keeping the mind alert, it offers a new social group of various ages, to hang out with. Sport that isn’t too strenuous, if one has friends to play with, can also help. Stepping out once or twice a week at least helps to keep a person presentable, connected and rooted in perspective, and leads to a stable sense of well-being.