The other day, I read an article that was headed: ‘Those recently retired should get a job to combat killer loneliness', which went on to say that pensioners should go back to work because loneliness is more deadly than smoking! I agree with this entirely and see many clients after the age of retirement who complain that they are bored and lonely.

Will this scenario be the same for all of us, eventually? We all know that when we are busy and seeing other people, any pain we may have seems less and loneliness can be at the core of many problems that appear to be exacerbated if one is alone. The answer is that when you retire you need to keep busy. It may be beneficial to take-up a part-time job, volunteer to help in a charity, learn a new hobby or start a new business. Many people I know work voluntarily in various hospitals, helping with meals or distributing books. If you have worked all of your life and have skills and experience, then think about becoming a mentor to a student who would appreciate your support and learning your skills. There are many options available to you and you need to be pro-active to give you a reason to get up in the morning. One thing is for certain, our minds needs to be stimulated, otherwise they deteriorate and go ‘flat', like a bottle of cola from last week.

New chapter

Retirement can be an exciting new chapter that gives you the freedom to do all those things you always wanted to do, but never did: like climbing a mountain, or swimming with dolphins, or seeing the pyramids, or writing a book, or learning how to ski or ride a horse, or building your own house.

It is a new beginning that can include new people, a new focus and innovation, and all this is just waiting for you around the corner. Life is, as we well know, what you make of it. The secret is to plan for retirement many years prior to your departure from work and not for it to come upon you as a surprise.

These are my top ten tips for a healthy retirement

  1. Know your cholesterol. A simple blood test can let you know if your cholesterol is too high. It should include results for total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides.
  2. Stop smoking. Smoking raises blood pressure by building-up fatty deposits in the arteries, damaging the blood vessels and affecting the heart.
  3.  Know your blood sugar. Risk factors for diabetes include lack of exercise and being overweight. Limit your intake of carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread, pasta, sugar and sweets.
  4. Healthy eating. Eat high-fibre foods every day. These should include fruit and vegetables, brown rice and wholemeal bread. You will also need protein from nuts and seeds and from fish and low-fat meat such as chicken.
  5. Body Mass Index. BMI, compares your height to your weight. A BMI of over 30 means that you are in the obese range which makes you at a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke or heart attack.
  6. Regular exercise. A 20-minute walk or other exercise is necessary at least three or four times a week, or preferably every day, in order to keep your body healthy.
  7. Know how to relax. Relaxation eases your body's response to stress. Meditation, deep breathing, gentle exercise, listening to music and imagining tranquil pleasant scenes such as the sea and the beach can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.
  8. Express yourself. Stress builds up if you keep your feelings bottled inside. Talk to your friends and family and ask for support. If you don't have a good support system, work to develop one.
  9. Be stress-free. Accept the fact that there are things over which you have no control and therefore cannot change. Try not to focus on the bad things in life, be positive and try to see always the good.
  10. Know your blood pressure. An optimal blood pressure level is 120/80 mmHg or less. To prevent or manage high blood pressure, consider some lifestyle changes.

The author is a BBC guest broadcaster and motivational speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee well-being consultancy based in London.