Therapeutic activities and filling in retirement hours.


        Therapeutic activities and filling in retirement hours.

LMC-3687-Edit                         I think this dear little boat is waiting for its’ owner to have more time to tinker and paint! 

Painting, walking, photography, writing, movies, reading, eating, cooking, mind games;  the list goes on and on. Everyone has their own way of cheering themselves up and filling in their leisure time.  Well; if only they did. People get lonely and down in the dumps quite easily it seems. The saying you can be lonely in a room full of people is absolutely true.

I am not going to give you the answers to eternal happiness either unfortunately. However I did receive a flier in my letter box recently eluding to eternal happiness. Mr Dino in Auckland can solve all “your love and social problems and destroy black magic, evil and bad spells” He offers a 100% guarantee. Really??

All I can do is talk from my own and my friends experiences. I have had a few setbacks In my life and times of darkness; I think most people do by the time they are in their sixties, it is called life.The daily activities we take part in play a big part in our ability to deal with adversity when it knocks on our door. Hobbies are a godsend, these days they are called ‘interests’ funny how word usage changes over the years. I think everyone should be encouraged to have a couple of ‘interests’ outside of their work, one passive and one active. Because when you retire they become of major importance to your happiness and those around you.  If you break a leg the passive interest will help get you through the recuperation and make your days more pleasant.  Well that’s my theory! Even if nothing is wrong and you are in great health after retirement there are over 12 hours a day to fill in. If you have a partner you spend several of those hours together, sharing chat over meals and going for walks.  The rest of the day you need to be focused on activities. Whether alone or in a relationship I believe you need to plan something for everyday; at least in your head, otherwise your head fills with those “what will I do now” negative thoughts. Invite people to dinner or lunch, go to galleries and walks on the beach, invite people to join you or go alone. Don’t wait for your phone to ring! Of course you can play golf and tennis or swim or do aqua aerobics or go to Pilates. You can probably play tiddly winks with someone I’m sure. There is a myriad of sporting activities you can do here and there too.  However they are not usually played every day. Hence you need more than one activity to fill the week.  Many men potter, fix things, spend time in their men caves who knows what they do but workshops and tools seem to occupy plenty of time.


I suspect Fishing can fill in many hours and does. you are never too old to learn to fish. Fly fishing classes are available or just buy a rod and go down to the water and cast your line. The fishing store will of course guide you on your needs.


This may all sound very obvious but I hear a lot of women commenting that their husbands don’t have enough to do in retirement. I won’t elaborate what else they say.  However for career  women I am sure the problems are similar.

Travelling probably takes up a few weeks every year if you are lucky,  and the planning and research can take many hours and be very rewarding. Travelling on your own is a challenge but one worth meeting. I have found this difficult  and I have decided small bites are best. I had three days in London on my own recently and it was wonderful. I certainly didn’t see everything but it wasnt my first trip. I stayed in a really good 5 star boutique hotel where they knew my name and asked me about my day, treated me like a real person. I felt part of their family for those days. You don’t get that in large hotel chains! I’m fortunate to attend Photography Congress’s in various countries  so this means you are with like-minded people. There are many tours for artists, photographers, golfers, foodies etc. check these events or tours as at least you share interests with your fellow passengers. Interestingly enough couples invite other couples to travel with them but singles don’t fit this formula. A lot of Cruises are full of older widows and divorcees, I can’t think of anything worse! So if you are going cruising check out the clientale before booking your fare, don’t be afraid to ask the questions. Such as “What % are single women”?



If you live on your own dinner takes about 10 minutes to eat on your own. Cooking a meal and spending hours creating great food for one’s self is a soulless pastime. On occasions I will have a cooking day just for me but really the enjoyment is not the same as if you have someone to share the food with. Cooking and Eating are definitely not therapeutic for me.  In fact it can make you sad or melancholy. However some people do find cooking therapeutic, just not me. Comfort food is not part of this equation!

Reading is a good way to escape into someone elses’ life, but I personally can only read for short periods, an hour maybe. Sometimes the book you are reading triggers personal thoughts and you drift into another place, returning to the empty pages having absorbed little. Sometimes the escape is exactly what you need.

Movies are I think a great escape and these days the Rialto theatres have many fantastic slice of life movies. The movies are a great place to shed a tear and have a small time of self-pity or indulgence of your emotions…however mostly I find the movies uplifting and shake me out of any melancholy feelings I may have had.   The fact that other people’s lives are such a drama helps one realise how fortunate you are. Some movies I avoid if the story is too poignant to my situation but as the years have gone by I cope and enjoy these movies too.

Painting is not something I have never tried although I sometimes dream I am a painter!   I think this is a great interest for people and one you can dabble in paint at any age. There are many art classes in most communities and you can express your feelings with colour and the stroke of a brush. Studying an interest like painting means you can google artists work and read their stories online . You can  participate in this activity alone or with a group. There are always exhibitions to see; definitely an interest to consider for men and women, you don’t have to be a Ralph Hotere or a McCahon  to enjoy it.

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Word games these days are readily available. Suduku and Crosswords in the paper are popular.  My personal preferences are Brainium ( a type of Solitaire) and Words with Friends on the iPad. These keep your mind active and while away plenty of spare minutes. Words with Friends is Scrabble and you can play with a friend, with an opponent the internet find you or play against the computer. One of my friends plays 30 games at a time and she works!  Games like Angry Birds help with hand-eye co-ordination ( turn the annoying music down ). So check out the huge game world on your computer or iPad. Bridge and Fishing Games are also online options, but don’t forget to turn them off and be sociable as well 🙂

Photography is for me, of course, the most therapeutic activity I can think of. The most enjoyment, fills in the most hours and can be done alone or with others. Anyone can pick up a camera. A woman I know was 88 and in a wheel chair when she took up photography. She did all her creative work in her kitchen using coloured cellophane paper and imagination. Awe-Inspiring images were the result. I will never forget this woman for her determination to pursue her love of photography. See the photos of Jeannie with the tripod on her mobility scooter.

Jeanne HartJeanne Hart & Hilda Gosling

Photography is  created within your soul, your heart, your eyes. The best way to stop dwelling on a problem or feeling sorry for yourself is to take your camera for a walk.  You are looking for a subject to photograph, not thinking about yourself. The iPhone, point and shoot or an expensive SLR camera, it doesn’t matter, the exercise is the same. You will stop thinking about you! After 30 minutes or more you will be a much happier person and hopefully have taken a few photos of the beautiful world we live in. Seeing is a gift, use it. Look in your garden – look closely there will be insects, dewdrops, leaf patterns as well as the obvious flowers. You don’t need to leave home to create good photos.After you sit back down at home download your photos and play with them with the amazing free software available. Picasa or Snapseed, Photoshop for iPad etc. Turn your image into monochrome or sepia, play with your images, add borders; seriously there are hours of free entertainment to be had. There are tutorials free online, thousands of them.  BLIP is a place you can challenge yourself to take one photo a day and upload it. It is called ’Blipping’ and people love it, you comment on work and they comment on yours – all if desired, under a pseudonym. Never forget the little moments. Keep a simple record of your life with just one photo a day, it becomes contagious but it is an activity that is great therapy and fun.

You can join clubs, not everyone is a club person but there are many amazing groups of people. We all know about tennis and bowls, golf and bridge clubs. Spending time with like minded people is therapeutic. Consider also Ikebana, Floral art,  Computer, Camera clubs, Probus, Art groups etc.

Writing is something I hear people talking about. “ I want to write my memoirs” they say it, but often never quite get started. I urge you to keep a book and write a few ideas down. A page here and there, a concept, an outline or maybe just the subject. These days it is easy to self publish using companies like the online BLURB Books in the USA. They have templates for photo books and text books so you can be creative or just follow a design. You can combine photos with words, it is a most satisfying activity that is not beyond any of you. Seriously contact me if you need assistance.  In New Zealand you can go onto Grab One and buy a half price book template from Kroma for $30-40, or if you use a MAC they have a book making program. I am talking hard cover books of good quality. Blurb are better quality than Kroma but cost twice as much due to the postage from overseas. There are numerous other book publishing companies around too and the great thing is you only need to order one book. There is a book in every one of you…start today!and serious;ly contact me if you need help, I’m on the end of an email every day!



Many of you know all of this but there are many folks I know struggling with decisions on what to do when retired or laid up with health problems  – this blog is for them ENJOY.


8 thoughts on “Therapeutic activities and filling in retirement hours.

  1. Enjoyed your column and great ideas my friend! You forgot to include activities with your grandchildren lots of enjoyment from that as you so well know. Love bridge and Branium and just meeting friends for a coffee. Life gets busier as we age it seems to me and family and friends so important also time to reflect on days gone by good or bad they have made us the people we are today😉😉

  2. A very interesting artice , well written and lot’s of food for thought. Good on you for putting it all on your post for others to read and relate to. Lx

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