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5 Things You Should Do to Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement, with Dr. Jared Heathman and Beau Henderson

New retirees are an at-risk population for mental health complications. Most focus on retirement as a vague destination of rest and relaxation. The idea of minimal responsibilities sounds fantastic, but after awhile, our mind drifts to boredom and desires purpose. Often retirees struggle with self-worth and question their value to society. This can lead to […]

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New retirees are an at-risk population for mental health complications. Most focus on retirement as a vague destination of rest and relaxation. The idea of minimal responsibilities sounds fantastic, but after awhile, our mind drifts to boredom and desires purpose. Often retirees struggle with self-worth and question their value to society. This can lead to clinical depression and anxiety. It is common for financially prepared retirees to re-enter the workforce at entry level positions in an effort to improve socialization, exercise, and self-esteem. Addiction risks elevate as retirees subconsciously attempt to drown their feelings.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things You Should Do to Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jared Heathman, MD. Dr. Jared Heathman is a triple board-certified psychiatrist with certifications in general psychiatry, child & adolescent psychiatry, and addiction medicine. He currently works in private practice in Houston, Texas.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I’ve always been fascinated by the medical field, but initially I planned to be an emergency medicine physician. As medical school progressed, I realized that I preferred to build a relationship with patients. I find psychiatry to be extremely diverse, like emergency medicine, which drew my attention.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

A stigma exists in the belief that the average mental health patient is more physically dangerous than the general population. I have not found this to be true. The most dangerous patients that I have encountered are highly intoxicated on illicit substances. Subtract the substance and you usually have a very polite, intelligent person. Determining the specific cause of intoxication in an agitated patient can be quite difficult.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

Medical terminology can be quite difficult to understand, but it is often the small subtleties in communication that can make a big difference. As a medical student I was once asked if the left kidney was being removed in surgery that day. Instead of answering with the word “correct,” I said “right”. I’ll never forget the lecture I received about how the term “right” has led to many medical mistakes as it is mistaken for a correction from the “left” side. I won’t make that mistake again.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mother had multiple medical problems throughout my childhood, but you would hardly know it from her constant positive attitude. There was no obstacle that she couldn’t overcome, despite the odds. Breast cancer survivor x4 now.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Physicians spend a long time in education and pile on mountains of debt (multiple hundreds of thousands in not atypical). When they finally finish training and earn a paycheck, they often feel discouraged by the debt and that they have delayed gratification for too long. Spending greatly increases and yet they feel the need to pay off the debt as soon as possible. High spending and high debt payments are not a combination for success. The result is that doctors work long hours to maintain a higher level of income than they need if they practiced good financial decisions. Think of life like a marathon, not a sprint. Maximize time off, reduce spending, and life will take care of itself.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Work is a decades long marathon that consumes most of our adult lives. It should be enjoyable. Hire good people, minimize drama, and have fun together.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In some cases, retirement can reduce health, and in others it can improve health. From your point of view or experience, what are a few of the reasons that retirement can reduce one’s health?

New retirees are an at-risk population for mental health complications. Most focus on retirement as a vague destination of rest and relaxation. The idea of minimal responsibilities sounds fantastic, but after awhile, our mind drifts to boredom and desires purpose. Often retirees struggle with self-worth and question their value to society. This can lead to clinical depression and anxiety. It is common for financially prepared retirees to re-enter the workforce at entry level positions in an effort to improve socialization, exercise, and self-esteem. Addiction risks elevate as retirees subconsciously attempt to drown their feelings.

Can you share with our readers 5 things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

Develop a social group of retirees. Retirement brings fewer responsibilities and more time to fill. If your closest friends haven’t retired, you’ll need to start developing a group of retired peers. The next time a daytime event comes up, you’ll have a potential group of participants to join you.

Develop multiple hobbies. Even the most enthusiastic of golfers will get bored constantly playing the sport. Participate in many hobbies to keep motivation and enjoyment high.

Start a new project. Always wanted to start a charity? Do it. Religious? Volunteer to take on new projects at church. New ideas or projects help stimulate creativity and keep our brains engaged and active.

Travel cost-effectively. Retirement allows ample time to travel, but funds are not infinite. Spend time to plan vacations to maximize discounts which will allow for more traveling. Travel is stimulating and engages our mind. Learn about local history and try new things.

Give. I don’t mean monetarily, but you are welcome to donate funds to your favorite cause. Give yourself to others in a meaningful way. Babysit for the neighbors to give them the night out. Cook meals for the less fortunate. Offer to lend your skills to your neighborhood, without being taken advantage of. Helping others releases endorphins which promotes pleasure and fulfillment.

In your experience, what are 3 or 4 things that people wish someone told them before they retired?

The three most common complaints that I hear are that retirement is lonely, boring, and lacks purpose. I routinely hear from pre-retired patients that these complaints are ridiculous or don’t apply to them. They are too busy to suffer these symptoms. Whether it is a week, a month, or a year, everyone experiences these symptoms without a retirement plan. Even then, the plan should be routinely amended and adapted to keep yourself motivate and engaged.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Routinely step outside your comfort zone. Life should be engaging and new. Personal growth is a path, not a destination.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Albus Dumbledore

People become too focused on their perceived abilities or lack thereof. Your choices and presence play a much larger role with your friends and relatives.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Tilman Fertitta — As a fellow Houstonian and Texas Tech alumnus, Fertitta has made a large impact on the local culture and growth of Houston. He is analytical and not afraid to take risks to expand his knowledge and personal growth.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

My new website www.whitecoathq.com is going through an extensive redevelopment to assist the medical community in new ways.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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