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When things get too hot

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James C. Sandefer

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So, you have been bored to tears lately? And it’s not that there aren’t some things that you wanted to do, it’s just too hot for doing outside stuff after about 10 a.m. Now, all of a sudden, you find yourself sitting around the house and staring at the walls; your idea well seems to have run dry, now what? What do you do when the weather dictates being trapped indoors and you don’t have a clue how to spend your time?

The first thing you should know is that you shouldn’t panic, it naturally happens sometimes, but it isn’t a permanent situation. I’ve been retired for over two decades and there hasn’t been a single year when I didn’t experience at least a few “nature imposed” housebound periods. In addition to the hottest times of the year and various weather-related occurrences, things usually slow down for me around holidays, especially during the Christmas season. It’s understandable that people are wrapped up in shopping and the festivities and are not likely to move forward with serious personal projects. I also experience a little lull during those rare extended periods of gloomy, overcast skies. As I said, it’s expected now and again, but usually doesn’t last very long.

The key to taking advantage of these slow times in retirement is learning how to stay busy. Maintaining a focus on your feelings and attitude is important as well due to the occasional uptick in depression and anxiety. Using this as an excuse to slack off is not recommended. So what can you do to take advantage of your downtime? Here are some possibilities that may help you use this time positively and productively.

1. Reorganize your office or the space you use for it. Use the time to do tasks you had no interest in pursuing when the weather or other circumstances precluded it. For instance, cleaning out files that are no longer needed or reorganizing your office space to give it a fresh appearance. I’m sure you can think of some other interests that have been idle.

2. Review your retirement plan. If you don’t have a retirement plan, learn how to create one or have one created for you. Without a plan, you won’t know where you are coming from and certainly won’t be able to get where you would like to go in the years ahead. You should check your retirement plan at least annually, and more often is a good idea, to ensure you’re on track or need to make some changes that reflect evolving interests, financial aspects, and health related concerns.

3. Learn something new or refresh something you already like. Identify an interest that is or may be potentially pleasurable for you, or at least hold your attention in some way. You can teach an old dog new tricks and it’s good to have a variety of activity options to choose from on any given day.

4. Catch up. Touch base with family members and friends that you haven’t communicated with recently. You never know when you may get some pleasantly surprising information. Sometimes they may be planning to get in touch but something keeps them from it, so they may need a reminder that you’ve been thinking about them as well. It’s an easy and casual way to rekindle relationships and friendships.

5. Get with the physical program. If you’ve become complacent about your fitness this may be the ideal time to ease back into some physical activities. At first you may want to go it alone, but consider teaming up with friends for motivation. One of the most prevalent forms of exercise, and one of the best overall, is walking. Of course, the weather dictates whether or not you can do it outdoors. If not, then consider joining a gym, acquiring your own treadmill, or discovering some other indoor exercise routines. Doing this throughout the year, and regularly or even occasionally with friends or new acquaintances helps offset potential boredom. The key is consistency; just doing some exercise regularly is far more beneficial than sitting around the house.

Whatever the reason for a slowdown in your life, take it in stride. Recognize that it won’t last forever and things really do occur in cycles. You can’t stop the slowdowns from occasionally happening, but you can maximize the extra time on your hands by doing enjoyable, productive things that will pay off in a big way in the long run regardless of the temperature outdoors.

Now crank up that air conditioner and do something physical.

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James C. Sandefer

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