Three ways for you to look amid the suffering of Covid

Things are tough. Have been for a very long time. And look to be this way for a while yet. So how are we to make the best fist we can of getting through it?

I’ve become convinced it has much to do with the direction in which we chose to look. And that’s what I want to unpack for you. But first, let’s be clear that the pain that comes from Covid should not be a surprise.

This is perfectly expressed by a memorable line in Shadowlands, the biopic of CS Lewis. When his wife Joy, close to death from cancer, comforted her husband with the line – ‘down here, suffering is part of the deal’.

But actually, the Bible got there first. Consider these lines from Ecclesiastes chapter 3 – perhaps you can hear The Byrds singing them – 

There is a time for everything, 
and a season for every activity under the heavens: 
a time to be born and a time to die . . . . 
a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
a time to mourn and a time to dance

Right now, there’s no shortage of weeping and mourning – for all that has been lost as the result of Covid. Most of us probably know someone who has died – certainly we know someone who has had the virus. 

Then there’s the huge level of loneliness, isolation and disappointment felt by many. Children have had endless disruption not to mention teachers and home-schooling parents who have had to cope. 

Perhaps prophetically, Ecclesiastes also promises –

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

And here we are in pain for the lack of hugs – the number one thing a poll on the AfterWorkNet Facebook page people said they are most looking forward to.

All this prompted me to think where I should be looking to not only survive but to ask that right question in my own life. ‘God – what are you wanting to teach me?’ I came up with ‘three ways to look’.

We need to look in 

Looking in means to look after ourselves and take care. There is nothing wrong with being careful about where we go and who we speak to. 

It is too easy to focus on those who stand outside hospitals and say this pandemic isn’t real. Or to get wound up at the news of people having wedding parties with 400 people there. 

Instead, we have a duty to look after ourselves – physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

Physically: This is about being wise regarding diet and exercise – even though temptation is close and exercise is harder with so much closed. But getting through this is going to take some commitment to cherish ourselves – and also being kind to ourselves when we fail.

Emotionally: Here we must take account of the reality of the grief that comes with the wide range of loss we are experiencing – from loss of life itself to loss of dreams. And so much in between. 

That calls us to give ourselves space, weep with those who weep and to have a good cry when we need to.

Spiritually: Nurturing our spiritual side is harder when energy is drained and emotions are stretched. That calls for realism. But time in the Bible, perhaps the Psalms, or letting your taste in worship music wash over you could do wonders for your soul.

We need to look out

It is surely healthy to have something beyond our front door that reminds us that we may be struggling but there is almost certainly someone who is worse off. Perhaps in our neighbourhood, in our church or even further afield. 

Maybe just pick up a phone when someone comes to mind.

It could also mean having our eyes on our world. As I did when part of a Zoom Tearfund prayer breakfast recently. It was moving to hear of all that has hit Ethiopia in the last few months. A plague of locusts, hunger, poverty, floods and the second highest Covid rate in Africa. 

As a result, I should be looking for a project which can be an ‘out focus’ for me. 

Indeed, our ‘look out’ project could equally be a neighbour or a hospital in the Sudan that we pray for, send messages to or send some support funds. 

We need to look up

It is as true now as ever it was – that ‘God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1). We have a great creator God who sent his son be our Saviour. 

If life feels rough, talk to him. He knows all there is to know and he understands pain because his son suffered just that. It would be great to have real-life fellowship to share things but we can’t at the moment. So, we need to look to him. 

Maybe a ‘read time’ each day – Billy Graham had a daily discipline of reading a Psalm to remind him what God is like and a chapter of Proverbs to remind him how to deal with people. 

Our great God has not gone ‘on leave’ while we suffer this pandemic. He is not gloating over our plight. But, as he often did in the Bible, he is longing that, as we suffer these difficult times, we become people who are more and more reliant on him. 

So, which way should we be looking – of course it’s ALL THREE. Time spent looking after yourself. Time spent engaged with someone struggling with life. Time spent with the God who loves and who has plans and purposes for you (Jeremiah 29 v11) and who still reigns supreme.

Think this might be helpful to others? Then please share using the simple links below. Thank you.

Dave Fenton

Dave, AfterWorkNet’s Director is a retired clergyman. He’s spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, and – when things are more normal, builds relationships and shares his faith at his local golf club, and escapes to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

Beware of the first months of retirement and their emotional challenge.


The word ‘retirement’ can conjure up enticing images – long walks, travel, new hobbies, fun with grandchildren and more. But the reality can be very different. Especially during the first months of this new adventure.

This is because transition from fulltime work comes with an emotional challenge. It’s a challenge that even leads some to be less open with the truth than perhaps they should be.

This has been revealed by research from the Harvard Business School led by Professor Teresa Amabile. She says, ‘For many, the first months of retirement can involve an existential crisis. It can be a very dramatic moment, with many retirees facing a psychological battle for self-discovery.’

Admittedly, this four year Retirement Transitions Study focusing on 120 professionals and their views of retirement, is from the US. But it still has important insights for all making the retirement transition.

What stands out from the research is that, for many, the first steps into retirements are somewhat blissful. With an empty calendar and no need for an alarm clock in the morning being beautiful things.

Prof Teresa reports, ‘Most people are very happy right from that first morning.’ But, for many, this doesn’t last long. This is because they struggle with restructuring their lives and letting go of a big part of their identity as employed people.

The evidence for this is clear from the responses when retirees were asked by the researchers how they described themselves.

Some harked back to their significant role in the past saying ‘I’m a retired librarian’ or ‘I’m a retired teacher or ‘I’m a retired research chemist’. Others even denied being retired, naming their past role even though it was no longer theirs.

Says Prof Teresa, ‘We asked them why they did this and it’s because they don’t want to be seen as someone out to pasture. One person said “I don’t want to be seen as yesterday’s news I want to be the news right now”.’

This points to something important, stresses Prof Teresa, saying, ‘People think of planning for retirement as a financial exercise, and that’s all. But it needs to be a psychological and relationship exercise as well.’’

She sums up the issue saying that when our formal career ends ‘We need to think about who we want to be. The people in our study who do that, tend to have a smoother transition.’

According to Prof Teresa, when someone leaves behind the structure and identity that goes with their employment ‘they need to be ‘an architect of a new life structure and, often, a new identity’. This ‘identity’ being one where they, ‘build a new life and explore new activities, relationships, and ways of thinking about themselves.’

This led to the researchers uncovering something they called building ‘identity bridges.’ They saw retirees using these as a strategy for preserving continuity between life before fulltime work and life afterwards.

Some of these ‘identity bridges’ include what the research team described as –

  • Activating a latent identity – doing so by rediscovering a passion they were not able to pursue while working fulltime.
  • Giving more time to a relationship not possible before – perhaps with grandchildren or adult children.
  • Maintaining a life philosophy – an attitude that helps remain positive despite retirement’s challenges.
  • Finding a new source for valued affirmation – establishing relationships and taking up roles that provide the kind of positive feedback experienced back in the workplace.
  • Using their workplace skills in a new way – often by volunteering.

This didn’t happen overnight, the study reveals. Prof Teresa says that although most welcomed the freedom and flexibility, many retirees described unexpected feelings of being at loose ends. And it typically took from six months to two years or more for them to sort through their thoughts and feelings.

Stressing the importance of this research Prof Teresa says, ‘These are important findings because they can make people more aware of the psychological challenges of moving into retirement And if people can be more consciously aware of the need to bridge with one or more of these strategies, they might feel less discomfort along the way.

Want more in making the transition to retirement? Check out these past AfterWorkNet blogs –

Want to make most of your transition to retirement? Here’s the 4 must-dos.

What might God’s plan be for the early months of retirement? Ready for a surprise?

What’s your experience of the first months of life after fulltime work? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can.

It’s time to ban the dreaded phrase ‘senior citizen’. And here’s why.


I am not old. My birth certificate and my body may tell a different story. But my mind – and my attitude – say otherwise. And I just wish the world around me would stop trying to get me to change my mind.

The ‘offence’ started a good while ago. My 55th birthday was marked and marred by a mailing from Saga – those blue rinse cruise people – inviting me to do something or other.

That put an end to what was never going to be a good relationship. It was also the opening shots in what has become an ongoing assault on the way I wish to see myself. The biggest culprit being that horrid label ‘senior citizen’ that seems to come from everywhere.

I find I’m in good company – including, possibly, yours. This company includes 78 year-old Retirement and Career Coach Gary Foster.

Recently Gary said, when it comes to senior citizen, ‘I refuse to put myself in that category. This is not a denial that I am not older than most or that I’m not getting older. I just don’t need another moniker to remind me and to plunk me into a category that has a negative tone’.


Of course, it is markedly better than ‘golden years’, ‘elderly’, ‘old codger’ and such. But do we even need a defining category? To be pigeonholed with words conjuring up the image of a shuffling couple trying to cross the road – as the road sign depicts so unhelpfully?

Quick story. My wife, Rosie, hit 60 – and thus was now a pensioner. Caught up in a raid on a jewellers (she lives that kind of exciting life) she came face to face with a local reporter wanting her story. When asked her age (what did that have to do with anything?!) she was wise enough to know what was ahead.

To say ‘60’ would have the paper designate her as ‘pensioner Rosie Meadows’. Not ‘vibrant mother of five’, not ‘former actress’, not ‘world traveller’, not ‘former business owner’. But ‘pensioner’ – with all negative images it throws up.

So Rosie answered ‘59’ – though she could easily have got away with ten years less. And her fingers were crossed, of course.

My point? It’s that words matter – especially when rather than being life-enhancing they create negativity and point to the bad smell of being past your sell by date.

Gary Foster astutely notes why we are where we are. The blame falls at the feet of psychologists and marketers he claims saying, ‘Until 1904 we had two age categories – adult and child. Then, in 1904, the President of the American Physicalists Association invented the term “adolescent.”’

From there came the growth to seven categories: newborn, infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adult, middle age, and old age. As Gary puts it, ‘Each is a lucrative market for psychologists and clever marketers.’

However, since the 1900s the time span between middle age and old age has extended dramatically. Gary says, ‘Senior citizen probably made sense when you were automatically there at 65 in the eyes of the government, financial industry, the general public and were facing just a few years before checking out.’

But no longer is that the way life is. Those once tagged ‘old’ or ‘senior’ may now have some 20 to 40 years ahead with mostly good health. And it is demeaning, even cruel, to badge them – and treat them – as though this is not the case.

What’s being described here are Baby Boomers– those born during the years after the last war. The generation that spawned Paul McCartney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elton John, Meryl Streep and such.

As Marc Freedman, author of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations says, ’Baby boomers and the generations following them don’t think in terms of years or age. After all, it was the baby boomer generation that coined ‘60 is the new 40.’

Marc adds that boomers have benefited from medical and technological revolutions and been subject to the explosion of the ‘how to make you look and feel younger’. With the outcome that most refuse to accept that ageing will lead to less productive years.

That’s me. It may well be you. And it’s why I’ll fight tooth and nail to escape from being a ‘senior citizen’ either in name or attitude.

Gary Foster has his own very American way of expressing his feelings on the subject – regarding himself as ‘a fully-functioning septuagenarian with more gas in my tank than I had when I was wandering in the haze of corporate life at age 50.’

He also fights back by seeking out other ‘kick-ass’ (I warned you he’s American) people like him who refuse to play ball with the ageism that terms like ‘senior citizen’ represent.

He even defines what he means by ‘kick-ass’. Here’s my massaged version. You know that’s you if you are –

Something of a rebel: Resistant to – and outspoken about –ageist stereotypes, attitudes, and comments about ageing.

Have high energy: Driven with a late-life sense of purpose.

In charge of your health: Deliberately doing the right things to promote the health of your body and mind.

Curious: Committed to continue learning, exploring and growing in the fullest way.

Creative: Actively showing that ideas and their expression don’t deteriorate with age.

Selfless producer rather than a self-indulgent consumer: Giving back, paying forward, by sharing skills, experiences, talents with those coming up behind.

Necessary: Living to be important to someone all the time.

Which brings us full circle back to ‘if not “senior citizens” then what?’. If there has to be something then I’m attracted to the solution from Maureen Connors, a San Francisco retail consultant.

Maureen recently told the Boston Globe she coined the term ‘perennials’ as a play on ‘millennials.’

Perennial = ‘lasting or existing for a long or apparently infinite time; enduring or continually recurring.’

Yes. That would do me nicely.

And if you’d like a bit more on the negative views of aging here’s a link to a blog you may have missed – Don’t fall for this ‘best before’ nonsense – about food or yourself.

How do you feel about ‘senior citizen’? Do you have a better version to suggest? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can.

Everyone should have a ‘When I die’ document. And here’s how to create yours.

What I saw on the desktop of my friend’s computer stopped me in my tracks. It was nothing raunchy or inappropriate. But simply a file folder labelled ‘When I die’.

My first thought was, ‘How morbid and inappropriate’. After all, he was in good health and it would likely be many years before his bucket was kicked and clogs popped.

But then came my second thought – as vivid memories came of those I know who would have loved their other half to have been this thoughtful. And not left stranded and confused at a time when grief made thinking and sorting a major challenge.

More than that, such information could even be needed well before death opens its door. Such as at a time of serious illness when everything has to be in the hands of others.

As a result, I went home and created my own When I Die’ file. Right now it is printed out and, with my will, birth and marriage certificates, in a place where those who need it know where to find it. If I had a funeral insurance plan the details would be there too along with contact details for the undertaker.

On reflection, though seemingly gloomy, this is one of the most loving and thoughtful things I could do for those I love the most. And if you have not yet done the same here’s my own check list that could also be yours.

The main document

Finance: This covers –

  • The name and contact details of your executor and solicitor
  • Who to contact, and how, regarding savings, investments and pension
  • Bank card pins
  • Login and security for online banking

Home stuff: Where to find details of –

  • Car, home and travel insurance
  • Receipts, instructions and guarantees for purchased items

Computer log in and passwords: These include –

  • Mobile phone
  • Utilities – gas, electricity and water
  • Email account
  • Social media
  • Loyalty cards
  • Apple ID
  • Skype
  • PayPal
  • Etc

This sensitive information is going to be on a document held on your computer. So you may want to use an online password manager to collect them all and then add the master password to the document by hand. Trustworthy password managers include Dashlane and RememBear.

Helpful info: It may also be helpful to others to have the following all in one place –

  • NHS number
  • Passport number
  • NIE number
  • Driving licence number

Funeral plans

I wouldn’t dare to tell anyone else what to say about their own funeral. But am happy to share my own thoughts – especially as I’ve seen well-intentioned requests becoming a burden when there were already too many weights to be carried.

So although I’d love to ask for everyone to be dressed in blue and white and for my ashes to be scattered on the centre circle at Stamford Bridge, I’ve gone for a more reasonable approach.

What I want my family to know is that whatever they do to mark my passing, I will not be there. So it is not about making me happy but meeting their needs.

That said, in the hope it saves my loved ones from hours of hand-wringing and ‘what would Peter want?’, I’ve made a few suggestions to help them on their way should they choose to follow them. Things like ‘buried or cremated?’ and a song or two that might work. But that’s it.

Is there anything you would add to this list? Or lesson learned from the death of someone close? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can.

Smile. Optimism is a key to living longer. Here’s what, why and how.


Want to live longer? Then the answer is to look on the bright side of life. That’s what recent research tells us – with those seeing life through optimistic eyes more likely to reach 85 and beyond.

The news is even better than that – as I’ll explain. But first let’s nail that good news about living longer.

It’s from a study at Boston University School of Medicine based on two previous long-term research projects. In each, the participants – average age 70 for women and 62 for men – had been assessed for their levels of optimism. The results speak for themselves.

  • Among women, the most optimistic had lifespans almost 15 per cent longer than the least optimistic.
  • Among men, the most optimistic had lifespans almost 11 per cent longer.

As I said, the news is even better than that. It’s not just that having an upbeat attitude can give us extra years. It’s also that those years are likely to be more healthy ones – physically and mentally.

Indeed, psychologists and researchers tell us –

  • Optimistic people tend to suffer fewer problems with depression.
  • Optimistic people seem to develop fewer physical illnesses.
  • Optimistic people overcome setbacks and keep motivated towards achievement.

What all this makes clear is that how we see life and act on that belief has a profound impact on what happens to us. And there’s much more to optimism than a man keeping his car running while his wife goes shopping.

Optimism covers a whole way at viewing life and acting on that view. Suzanne C Segerstrom, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, explains that optimism is ‘a combination of beliefs and also behaviours reflecting that belief.’

She says, ‘Where a pessimist may respond to obstacles by withdrawing and underachieving, an optimist responds by formulating goals, planning and engaging with the issue.’

This is one of the reasons those behind the Boston study see their discovery as so important. To quote Lewina Lee who led it, ‘Our findings raise an exciting possibility that we may be able to promote healthy and resilient ageing by cultivating psychosocial assets such as optimism.’

Did you get that? A way to ‘promote healthy and resilient aging’ is by ‘cultivating optimism’.

This is underlined by health psychology expert Dr Catherine Hurt of University of London. She says the Boston study ‘suggest as well as educating and encouraging people to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly we should also be promoting psychological wellbeing and the importance of optimism.’

Can we do that for ourselves? It’s true that some are naturally glass-half-empty people. But rather than finding danger in every opportunity can we start looking for opportunity in every danger? Instead of finding problems, go looking for solutions? Aim to have high expectations rather than low ones?

It’s true that some people seem to be born optimistic. Yet, ’Anyone can learn to be optimistic – the trick is to find purpose in work and life,’ says Leah Weiss, a Stanford professor specializing in mindfulness in the workplace.

She adds, ‘When we work with purpose or live with purpose, we feel more fulfilled and better equipped to see the glass half full.’

It’s also possible to train your brain to think more optimistically. And here are 8 tips to do so –

  1. Aim to see things through a positive lens – looking for the good rather than the bad.
  2. Focus on solutions, not on problems – not easy but try.
  3. Give the news a miss – after all, how seldom does the media report good news?
  4. Seek the company of optimistic people – and let their attitude rub off.
  5. Face up to what you can and can’t control – and don’t stress over what is not in your hands.
  6. Don’t dwell on past failings or disappointments – what’s done is done and it doesn’t always mean the same will happen.
  7. Keep a note – at the end of the day, jot down those things that went well.
  8. Be realistic – accept the negative as part of life but not as the whole story.

But ultimately, there is an even bigger picture than all this. A reason to be optimistic above all others and perfectly expressed in the Bible’s book of Lamentations ‘Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ – Lamentations 3:21–23.

Want to live a little longer and healthier and happier? Then it’s time for a song. Please join me, ‘Always look on the bright side of life – de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.’

Do you have a way to keep optimistic? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s super optimistic Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can.

How do you score on these 10 things to do every day during Covid-19 to keep you feeling good?

Let’s be honest. We are happy to acknowledge that Covid-19 can damage our bodies. That’s whether we catch it or, in trying to avoid it, end up eating badly or moving around less than we should.

But how seriously do we take its potential impact on our mental health? Doesn’t even the phrase ‘mental health’ suggest a place we’d rather not go and issues not to be thought about?

Yet, even as things begin to open up, the coronavirus still generates an understandable level of fear, worry and concern – for ourselves and others. Added to that is the impact of greater levels of isolation and lack of hugs than normal. All of which plays a part in regulating the chemicals in our body that impact the way we feel and our ability to cope.

It’s because of this the NHS and others have developed the 10 things we should all be sure to do every day to promote our own mental health. And here comes my own take on them.

1. Do something you enjoy and are good at

This is about ‘me’ time, something that can be especially hard for those who feel the need to lay down their lives for others. It also means making some positive choices not to just sit and vegetate until the world changes.

It can be harder to find things you enjoy and are good at when most of the time you are stuck at home. But it has to be done.

2. Drink enough water

Please note the word ‘water’ and don’t confuse it with energy drinks or with alcohol even if the latter is mixed in with some H2O. How much water? Roughly about eight glasses a day is the recommendation.

3.Eat wisely

That word ‘wisely’ covers a multitude of non-sins. Including eating our veggies and keeping off processed foods as much as possible. For great advice see the AfterWorkNet website on The Stay Young Diet.

And ‘wisely’ also means no snacking and less ‘I deserve this’, despite feeling the need for some comfort eating.

4. Keep active in mind and body

Each of us will approach this in different ways. Having an active mind can range from attacking a crossword or playing Words with Friends to exploring an interest or learning something new.

The true is same for keeping our body active. Some will tune into online exercise and others will just be sure to take a walk each day.

5. Take a break

Don’t spend long periods in one place doing one thing – be it as a couch potato, a knitter, at a computer screen or whatever. Instead, be sure to take regular breaks if sitting in one position, to stand, stretch and move around

6. Stay connected to those you care about

This is easy for extraverts – those needing no prompting to phone a friend and who then talk for hours when they do. But others may need to be intentional – even down to listing and scheduling – to make sure they regularly catch-up family, friends and acquaintances.

That matters even if you feel there is nothing new to talk about. After all, just because that may be true of you it may not be true of them. And an ‘I just wondered how you are doing’, can be great therapy for both of you.

7. Be delighted in who you are

This is about how you view yourself – as someone made in God’s image and of immeasurable worth. And therefore worth taking care of.

This is the right kind of ‘worth it’ and to be reflected in your surroundings and how you behave. And includes having periods with your windows open to let in fresh air, getting natural sunlight if you can, and getting out into the garden or an open space.

8. Actively care for others

This takes your mind off you and onto others. Who else around you is affected by the way things are now? Might they need to connect with you? What can you do to meet their needs and enrich their lives?

9. Talk about your feelings

We seldom hesitate to talk about our physical afflictions – unless they are somewhat embarrassing. Yet too often we hang back on talking about our mental struggles – treating them as equally embarrassing.

It means giving an honest answer to the question ‘how are you?’ when it comes from someone who is honestly asking. And picking a trusted person to say ‘I’m not having a good day’ to.

10. Ask for help

Okay, this is not ‘daily’ but something you should be open to doing on any day of the week if you need to. It is about seeking help when all the other stuff has not worked and life keeps feeling bluer and bluer.

It may involve reaching out to those you trust who can lighten your load. Or even to a doctor and then being sure to do what they say.

That’s the 10. How do you score? And is there something you should do about it?

How are you keeping your head together during Covid-19? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can. And he only scored 9 out of 10 on this post..

What 3 things should every 70 year old avoid if they want to flourish?

There are three things no one in their 70s should do to make the best of their years. All three may surprise you. And all three matter.

So if you are already past that big birthday, or heading in that direction, here’s some wisdom. But I need to confess it’s not mine but comes from the mind of Retirement and Career Coach Gary Foster.

I’m sharing it, first, because it makes sense and, second, in the hope you will not only benefit but check out more of Gary’s rich thinking. You’ll find a link to his blog at the end of this one.

What are those three things to shun like the plague when 70 hits you? Gary is an outspoken advocate for living to 100 or beyond – having set his target at 112 ½. So he’s worth listening to and here they come.

1. Avoid most other 70-year olds.

Gary admits, ‘That sounds cruel’. And it does because most people in their 70s have a circle of similarly-aged friends they love and cherish. But he backs his view with reason.

He points out that many, if not most, 70-year-olds are innocently in the ‘decay mode’ – in terms of their attitude to life and the way their body works. And with that comes a resignation and acceptance of what he calls ‘the myths of automatic senescence and accelerating physical decline’.

Or, to put this in my kind of English, too many in their 70s have fallen for the false belief that age offers no choice but to accept the gradual decay of our faculties’.

As evidence Gary points to the fact that conversations are often limited to the subjects of health, memory or friends impacted by the same. And talk seldom covers how to maintain and celebrate good health and counter decline with wise practices that should always have been in place.

Why does that matter? Gary quotes the opinion of motivational speaker Jim Rohn that each of us ‘rise to the average of the five people we spend the most time with’. In other words, if those closest to a 70 year old are in ‘negative older age mode’ that 70 year old is likely to get infected with the same attitude.

That’s why Gary encourages his fellow septuagenarians to seek the company of those ‘unafraid of change, with insatiable curiosity, and big thinking’ – which is more likely to be found in those in the generations coming up behind.

By doing so, he says, ‘We’ll be able to grow and learn from their creativity and energy and also to help guide them with our acquired wisdom and experience.’

2. Avoid the retirement trap

The ‘retirement trap’, explains Gary, is the belief that life after work should offer endless leisure and rest. A belief that we are born to eventually make the transition from ‘vocation to vacation’ – a concept dreamed up by politicians to free up jobs for those younger and by marketers to relieve us of our money.
He argues that ‘retirement doesn’t exist in nature nor did it exist anywhere on the planet 150 years ago. It’s a Euro-American concept that doesn’t exist in many countries, some of which can claim the longest-living citizens’.
By avoiding the retirement trap we escape the implication that ‘winding down’ is better than staying in growth mode. As Gary would remind us, we are given only two choices with our bodies and brains – grow or decay. And that ‘retirement’ – a word derived from the French ‘retirer’ meaning retreat or go backward – can too easily put us on the decay path.
I like Gary’s list of ‘the fruits of traditional, leisure-based retirement’ – none of which are life-enhancing. To express them in my own words they are –
• Increased separation from stimulating company – a major life limiter.

• A more sedentary lifestyle – despite best intentions, most retirees fail to do the exercise needed to keep in good health.

• The risk of self-indulgence – though we are ‘wired to serve’ it’s easy to drift into ‘I’ve earned the right to put myself at the centre of my choices’.

• Losing work from our lifestyle – with meaningful and productive activity being a key factor in living longer.

3. Avoid drifting

Who would think of trying to travel in a strange country without some kind of road map and a plan? Yet that’s what vast numbers do when exiting full time work for a new territory where they could spend the next 20 to 40 years.
As a result, Gary asserts, many end up drifting. Even those who have a financial plan may have no clear roadmap that takes account of the mental, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual sides of life in this unexplored land.
This can end up with people drifting without a clear and fulfilling purpose. With their circumstances and the expectations of others becoming the driving force – taking them on a path to accelerated deterioration.
Gary notes the view of the business coach Dan Sullivan who says, ‘People die early for three reasons: No money. No friends. No purpose’. On this basis, a healthy and fulfilling life in our 70s demands a plan, a sense of purpose, and a direction.
Without this, warns Gary, ‘we waste the talents, skills, experience, and energy that still resides in us as 70-year olds. And that’s close to being criminal’.

To see more from Gary Foster check out his website here.

How do these 3 things to avoid strike you? Do you have some of your own to contribute? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can. He doesn’t have a garden.

Ten ways to pray about Coronavirus 

In the midst of the devastating impact of Covid 19 – locally and globally –it’s hard to know what to pray for or how to pray. Above all though, we know God hears the longings of our hearts even when we don’t seem to have the right words.

However, you might find help with these 10 ways to pray in this challenging time. Each is accompanied with some Scripture to reflect on.

1. Intercede for God’s mercy

‘In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger remember your mercy’.  Habakkuk 3.2

Almighty God, You alone are our hope, our strength and our shield. Please move in power to rescue us from the many fearful effects of this global disaster.

2. Give thanks for those reaching out with justice, care and hope

‘I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’’ Isaiah 41.13

Sovereign Lord, I bring to you those who are seriously ill. Please comfort them and restore them to health and strength. And protect the doctors, nurses and carers looking after them.

3. Ask God to grant success to medical researchers

Jesus said: ‘Pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.’ Matthew 21.21,22

God of mercy, may an effective vaccine against Covid-19 be quickly developed. Please enable pharmaceutical and other companies to provide the vital medicine and equipment that is needed.

4. Pray for our churches

‘Equip God’s people to do his work and build up the Church . . . until we all come to such a unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.’ Ephesians 4.12,13

Father, please strengthen those who lead our churches as they organise care for their members and their communities – and make it possible for worship and prayer during lockdown.

5. Pray for those in badly affected places

‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.’ Psalm 23.4

Father, I bring to you those in areas badly hit by the virus. Please comfort and strengthen them as they battle through. And bring them soon to the point where danger begins to recede.

6. Pray for the health workers

‘The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’ Micah 6.8

Gracious God, grant insight to those responsible in the NHS for making decisions to maximise staff resources, create bed spaces and deploy life-saving equipment. And uphold all those working at great sacrifice on our behalf.

7. Ask God to watch over those in need of rescue and support

‘His faithful promises are your armour and protection… Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.’ Psalm 91.4-6

Lord, please grant peace to all who feel lonely and fearful. Provide for people who live alone, those with no job or sufficient income and families needing support. Amen.

8. Call on God to pour out his Spirit on his people

‘Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.’ Hebrews 2.18

Lord Jesus, may your Spirit fill your Church and make us worthy ambassadors of the Kingdom; praying faithfully, speaking truth graciously and sharing your love in this time of need. Amen.

9. Pray about the economic effects

‘We hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.’ Hebrews 6.18,19

Lord, we cry to you about the global impact on financial markets, national economies and businesses resulting in closures, job losses and other hardships affecting many people. May wisdom and justice rule.

10. Pray for leaders around the world

’Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.’ Lamentations 3.22

Lord, grant wisdom to the Government and their advisors to act with integrity and courage as they make vital decisions and announce difficult measures that will impact our lives.

This has been adapted from CARE’s leaflet in the ‘Ten Ways to Pray’ series of prayer resources. CARE also produces a quarterly Prayer Diary covering a range of topics with prayers, relevant information and Bible verses. These free resources can be ordered from CARE resources through an email to

If you have found this helpful please share it using the links below.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother.

Want to do better than just ‘survive’ the lockdown? Here’s some simple ways to actually flourish.

While in quarantine during the plague, Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Anthony and Cleopatra. And while in isolation, Sir Isaac Newton he made some of his greatest discoveries including gravity.

You and I may not reach such great heights during the present lockdown. But we can use the time to do better than just survive. Yet it won’t ‘just happen’.

I like the approach of the author Guy Dauncey on keeping SANE during the crisis. With SANE standing for Strong, Active, Neighbourly and Energetic.

With that in mind, here’s some realistic suggestions that could lead you to coming out of the lockdown with something under your belt – and, hopefully, with it a notch or two tighter.

Establish some rules

Avoid the risk of just drifting, and letting things take their course, by establishing some rules to follow. I’m not suggesting mine should be yours. But here they are in the hope they give you something to think about.

  • Exercise 6 days a week
  • Be productive 5 days a week
  • No TV mid-morning or afternoons most weekdays
  • Make proactive phone/Facetime calls at least twice a week
  • Occasionally reward myself for good behaviour

Set yourself goals

Again, this is about not drifting. And having goals give you something to aim for and have a sense of achievement when you’ve ticked them off. Your goals will be personal to you. But, again, here are mine in the hope they inform your thinking.

When this season is over I want to –

  • Be fitter
  • Be more connected with family, friends and neighbours
  • Have a more rounded perspective on life
  • Have touched up lots of paintwork in the home
  • Have sorted our historic family photographs
  • Have learned to play the ukulele
  • Have sold some of our stuff on eBay

Keep the right focus

This is the spiritual bit. When walking on the water to Jesus, Peter began to sink because his eyes were on his circumstances. Perhaps this was in the mind of the writer to the Hebrews who encourages us to run ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’. Hebrews 12.2-3

At a time when the fierce storm of Covid 19 is raging I can think of no better place to fix my attention to see things in perspective. And, to help you do so, strongly recommend the free daily prayer app Lectio 365

Get sunlight and fresh air

Open those windows when inside and take every opportunity to get outside that the ‘rules’ allow. And fill your lungs – good deep breaths – when you do.

This is not just a good idea. Sunlight produces vitamin D which cheers us up. And fresh air is seen to improve blood pressure, reduce stress levels and improve the way we feel.

Keep active

Get things done – things that keep both your body and mind active and with thoughts other than on the crisis. Make a list and get to work. From those kitchen cupboards to disorganised drawers. A new project for the garden to a new hobby or learning experience.

Look after your appearance

When tucked away, with no need to be ‘presentable’, the temptation is to slob out. Perhaps not with full-on slobbery. But with a gentle drift to taking less care in the sprucing up department.

Taking care of our appearance increases our sense of well-being, helping keep us motivated.

Don’t keep looking at the same four walls

Cabin fever comes from the impact of being stuck in the same environment for days on end. A smart move is to change the ‘cabin’. Could you rearrange the furniture, redecorate, find a way not to spend all your time in the same room?

Even swapping some of the pictures or having a big declutter of ornaments and pictures can make a positive difference.

Maximise the opportunities for human engagements

People need people and there are many ways to engage in the lockdown era – including social media and online via Skype, Zoom, etc. Use them to the full. This is not the time to be shy or to leave the initiative to others.

One simple way is to hold a Come Dine With Me dinner party – inviting a few friends simultaneously share a meal while joined together on Zoom.

Enjoy the experience of eating well

In the old ‘normal’, life could be too busy to cook from scratch, right down to making our own sauces or using a range of herbs and spices. That’s no longer the case.

You can now enjoy the relaxation of creating a self-prepared meal and the benefit from eating less processed food. So dust off your cookbooks, search Google – BBC Food comes recommended. Better still see the great recipes in Rosemary Conley’s Stay Young Diet.

Develop a new skill or interest

Though stuck at home, it’s still easy to work at a new skill or hobby. For a mass of ideas see this list on Wikipedia. To help make it happen, Skillshare has hundreds of free classes led by those they say are ‘icons, experts, and industry rock stars excited to share their experience, wisdom, and trusted tools’.

Do something for others

Shift the focus from the virus and yourself by helping others – which is good for you and good for them. A simple way is to create a list of those you could cheer up with a phone call. But you could do something more substantial either through your church or some other way.

The charity Rest Less has some practical ideas including –

  • Good with languages? Then put this to good use by volunteering for Translators Without Borders (TWB)
  • Help those visually impaired. Use the Be My Eyes app to make life easier for people who are partially sighted around the world. Anything from helping them check food expiry dates to distinguishing colours or navigating surroundings.
  • Give practical support to overseas missionaries. Can you post a magazine? Search the internet? Audio type? Then MissionAssist will like your skills to urgent needs.
  • Be a grandparent to children on another continent. Though called Granny Cloud, it links male and female volunteers by Skype into remote locations to chat with, listen to, read with and play with underprivileged children in Colombia, Cambodia, Mexico, Greenland and Jamaica.
  • Contribute to peace and sustainable human development. As a United Nations Volunteer your time will impact the wellbeing of others by matching your skills to the opportunities. Everything from writing and editing to teaching and training. Art and design to research. Administration to event organisation.

Exercise at least a little each day

There’s a lot more benefit to moving around with some energy than you may imagine. Along with strengthening your body parts your brain gets a treat as well. This is because exercise causes the brain to release hormones- endorphins – that cheer you up and help you to sleep.

If this thought is new to you then start small and build up. A short sharp walk is good for starters. And check what is free on Google that you can do at home and do as much as you can. For more on this see the AfterWorkNet webpages on Keeping Fit.

Don’t be too driven

Finally, in these challenging and strange times cut yourself a little slack. You won’t hit all your goals or get everything done you’d hoped for. But celebrate what you can do and treat yourself when you at least get somewhere there.

If you think others will be helped by this please share using the links below.

Do you have a ‘rule’, ‘goal’ or insight on making the most of the lockdown? Please share it here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director and presently under ‘house arrest’ and missing his grandchildren. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and dreams of escaping to Spain when travel permits.

When fear and anxiety rears its head, use these 8 ways to get back on track.

At this time of Coronavirus shutdown, don’t be surprised – or feel guilty – if you are anxious or fearful. There are sound reasons why this could be so – and ways to respond that will make all the difference.

Isolation is not natural for human beings – we are not designed for it. Our natural instinct is to group together. For us to experience and enjoy relationships – in our workplace, our community, and our family.

Yet here we are having to isolate ourselves, even from close family members. Worse still, at the same time, we are bombarded with horrifying headlines.

So it’s no surprise that many – possibly even you – experience emotions of anxiety and fear. However, the good news is it doesn’t have to be like this.

My experience as a cognitive behavioural therapist has taught me there are things we can do to meet this challenge. Though seemingly simple, they have powerful effects. More than that, they wonderfully reflect what we know to be true from the Bible.

Here I have brought the two together with 8 ways to help you have peace of mind while the seas of the pandemic rage.

1. Remember that God has not changed.

The Israelites put stones in the river Jordan as a reminder of the miraculous stopping of the river when they crossed. When we are anxious, we tend to forget the times God has intervened in our lives.

Our circumstances may have changed but God is the same yesterday, today and forever. So take time to reflect on – and even write down – the ways God has been good to you in the past. And remember that though your circumstances have changed, he hasn’t.

2. Make God’s promises your own

Let God speak to you through the promises he has made in the Bible. Put them on post-it notes and stick them where you will see them during the day – and stop to let them sink in. Verses like –

‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’ Psalm 139: 9-10

‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’ Isaiah 43: 2

‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’ Psalm 46:1

‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’  Isaiah 41:10

‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you’ 1 Peter 5:7

For other examples see Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 18:29, Psalm 138:8, and Isaiah 54:10.

3. Watch your thoughts.

Though thoughts of fear can come you don’t have to let them stay. That’s because we can choose to change what we are thinking about.

So deliberately decide to think of something else. Ideally, take St Paul’s words to heart – ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.’  Philippians 4:8.

4. Encourage others.

Take the focus off yourself by finding ways to let others know how important they are to you – using the telephone, emails, or social media posts. You can begin by saying, ‘I was just remembering when …’ (about the time they said or did something) and how much it meant to me.’

You will have your own memories and words, so find the little ways to share them. Or simply say, ‘I’m thinking about you, and praying for you.’

5. Accept help from others.

We can be so used to being independent that we unwittingly pull up the drawbridge that lets people in to help us. When someone asks if there’s anything they can get you say ‘yes’. Even if it’s only a bar of soap. Though it might even be toilet rolls.

6. Spend time focusing on the small things.

Give yourself the time and space to admire – and wonder at – the beauty of simple things.

For example, notice how the sun’s rays coming through the windows light up the pattern in the carpet, or a picture – even if it’s dust you see rather than the sunshine itself.

7. Be grateful.

Being grateful has a hug therapeutic effect and there is so much we can be grateful for. Here’s where a notepad and pen can be handy. Make a list of things, big and small, for which you are grateful.

Keep writing, noting how often the little things had longer-lasting effects than the big ones. And put it somewhere prominent. So when those fearful or anxious moments come there is a powerful reminder that life is also good.

There are many ways to worship but doing so through great worship music will be good for your brain as well as for your soul. God’s gift of music helps us be more aware of his presence as he puts our fragmented, world-weary selves back together.

There’s no shortage of music that can do this for you, from Handel to Hillsong. And all are very easy to reach by way of your favourite CD, Premier Radio or UCB radio, Alexa, YouTube and Spotify.

Put these 8 responses to fear and anxiety to work and you’ll discover the difference they will make.

Think this might help someone else? Please share it using the easy links below.

What have you found works when you find worry and anxiety invading your life? Please share your insights here or on our Facebook Group.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse is a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and Christian counsellor. She is External Relations Manager for Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity giving practical and spiritual support to older people.

How not to be bad news in the coronavirus crisis.

You’d imagine Christians, in their active years of retirement, would be nothing but good news in these troubled coronavirus times. I wish.

And I’m not making this up.

To be fair, most are heeding the official advice. Including limiting contact and putting church and volunteer activities on hold. Yet others, seemingly convinced they’re not vulnerable and God offers them some special protection, seem to think that life as it was is fine.

Over the past weeks, I’ve come across a surprising number of after-work boomers with an approach that puts them and others at risk. That may not be you, but perhaps you recognise the symptoms.

In which case, please take the following to heart – or use it to open the eyes of others.

Don’t behave as though you are invincible

Unlike the frailty of their parents when retirement came, boomers land on the shores of after-work with a spirit of ‘can do’ optimism.

Alongside that comes the fact that most of us don’t see ourselves as ‘old’ or ‘vulnerable’.

All of which can lead to seeing ourselves as invincible – and being tempted to behave as though it is true. Our parents came through the second World War and we’ll come through this one.

Recent research indicated 1 in 4 adults had yet to make any significant change to their behaviour since the outbreak began. This leaves me wondering how many of them were, in their own minds, ‘invincible boomers’.

Yet, in reality, our bodies are not all that they were. Nor are our immune systems. Should the virus strike us our invincibility would be out of the window. And, invincible or not, failing to make changes puts others at risk.

Perhaps you’ve heard it said or even said it yourself – ‘I’m not going to stop living’. But that’s not what is being asked. What’s needed is a different kind of living – one that demonstrates the reality of how things are and doesn’t risk your life or the lives of others.

Christians are not a special case

Multiply that invincibility with a sincere belief that ‘God is on my side and in control’.

Then add a sprinkling of ‘If God be for us who can be against us’. And it can be a toxic mix in the present circumstances.

As I read on Twitter recently –

I went to church today. I did not shake hands.

One friend actually became upset. One joked that he had more faith than me. One said we know God will protect us.

Don’t do this people.

He is so right – ‘don’t do it’. And if you don’t believe me believe Jesus.

‘God makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust’, said Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5.45.

In context Jesus was saying that everyone benefits from acts of nature – not just God’s special people. In the same way, it is clear that all natural phenomena is equally distributed.

When trouble comes the good guys and the bad guys are treated alike. There’s no supernatural shield round those who are on the inside track with God.

You may not fear catching the coronavirus. But loving our neighbour means we should fear spreading it. Bold acts of misplaced faith could bring suffering and even death to others.

In the midst of not being fearful we must also be responsible.

You may need to be brave

The social group each of us is part of has a huge impact on the way we behave. Standing out from the crowd is seldom comfortable.

That’s why, if your Christian environment is one where ‘life can go on because God will protect us’, it may take some courage. After all, who wants to be written off as a spiritual pigmy?!

But your survival, and the health and survival of others, may depend on you being willing to rock the boat.

If you think others will be helped by this please share using the links below.

Do you have an insight or experience about balancing faith and practical reality? Then do please share it here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director and presently under ‘house arrest’ and missing his grandchildren. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives with a dream of escaping to Spain when travel permits.

The A to Z of getting older – discover 26 priorities for a good retirement

Waiting for you are 26 priorities for a good retirement – one for each letter of the alphabet. Though you’ll only get a taster here. The full set are in Derek Prime’s excellent book ‘A Good Old Age’.

Don’t be put off by that word ‘old’. Derek’s book is all about living a fruitful retirement after years of hard work. With the subtitle – ‘An A to Z of loving and following the Lord Jesus in later years’.

With insight and wisdom, Pastor and Bible teacher Derek Prime, himself in his 80s takes you from A for Acceptance to Z for Zeal. On the way covering things like C for contentment, P for peaceable, V for victorious and X for X-factor.

Let me give you a few tasters.

C for Contentment: Derek writes, ‘Areas of my life bring both contentment and discontent. This can be seen in our family and friends. We can be proud of them, but it may be that we see too little of them, perhaps making us think they do not care much about us’.

Recognising we all have to deal with joys and sorrows he concludes ‘day by day the reading of the scriptures feeds our contentment’

H for Hope: Derek deals with the true meaning of Christian hope. He says, ‘‘Hope means rather than thinking wistfully about the past and what I am missing, I will be thinking with eager anticipation of what God promises me in the future’.

J for judgement: This includes Derek facing the folly of judgementalism. He writes ‘It puts up barriers and ruins relationships particularly between different age groups. It is better, by God’s grace, to be an instrument of his peace than a member of Satan’s fifth column’.

The book has a lovely balance. It does not minimise the new pressures faced by those in their retirement years and gives positive answers on how we can live as fulfilled followers of Christ during them.

The more I read the book, the more I wanted to say – ‘this is how I want to be’. It gave me things I can work on. Character traits that need healing – like tending to be a grumpy old man.

Each chapter concludes with a prayer. And I was humbled by the one at the end of ‘T for Talk’

‘Please help me, Lord, to so fill my heart with the good things of your word that my tongue may share and speak about them when the opportunity is present. May the talk that comes out of my mouth be always helpful and beneficial to others’.

The book has had a mass of 5 star reviews. So I encourage you to take a look. Ether read it straight through or a chapter a day over a longer period. It has also been used as study material for a small group.

The book is a gem. And written by someone with a deep love for God and willing to face the issues retirement brings with fresh insights from God’s word.

A Good Old Age by Derek Prime is published by the Good Book Company with discounts for bulk purchase.

Read something here that would encourage others. Please share it using the links below. And feel free to have your say either here or on our Facebook page.

Dave Fenton:
Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

The 7 good habits of an actively retired disciple. How many are yours?

As the old proverb goes ‘Habits maketh the man – or woman’. But what habits will serve you best as a follower of Jesus in your years of active retirement? Here are my recommendations.

1.Aim to keep Jesus as the centre of all you are

Of course, this first habit is no different from the way Jesus calls us to live during the stages of life that have gone before. To ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind’ Matthew 22:37.

2.Don’t quit the race

In this new season it is not a time to rest on our laurels and coast. But to keep engaging with God through Scripture, prayer, worship and joyful obedience at a time of fresh opportunities.

3.Cultivate an expectation of continued spiritual renewal

Keep looking to God for new spiritual growth and understanding. As Paul says, ‘We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed’ 2 Corinthians 4:15. 

4.Deepen your trust in God for the future

We may wonder how you’ll manage. ‘Will we cope?’ ‘Will we have enough?’ But God has promised he will provide: ‘Even to your old age, I am he who will sustain you’.  Isaiah 46:4. That’s a promise to keep hold of from the very moment fulltime work ends.

5.Be prepared to be surprised by God and to see new things happen

This season can offer endless opportunities to have new experiences and explore new challenges. Be ready for what God may do for you, in you and through you. It may be different from the past but it will still be significant.

You may not be old yet, but if Scripture says ‘Your old men will dream, dreams (Joel 2:28) get some practice in before old age arrives.

6.Invest in others

Encourage and equip those coming up behind you by mentoring, supporting, inspiring and providing hospitality. Share the wisdom that God has given you with younger generations, pray for them, seek God’s best for them. As the Psalmist says, ‘I declare your power to the next generation’. Psalm 71:18.

7.Establish the right priorities

As an after-work disciple you are the target of all kinds of marketing. From holidays and finances, to hobbies, sports and funeral plans. There’s no shortage of those who would like your money and your time.

So make sure you listen also to God’s voice in all this. And take to heart St Paul’s encouragement to not ‘be conformed to the world’ but to be ‘transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Romans 12:2.

With these 7 habits at work you’ll be making each day count in serving God’s Kingdom. As Psalm 90:12 prays: Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Dianne Tidball

What insights, experiences or questions do you have about establishing godly habits in your after-work years? Please share them here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Dianne Tidball is a retired Baptist Regional Minister spending her after-work time Bible teaching in local churches, mentoring women leaders and helping churches house the homeless.  She loves being a grandma to Noah, travelling, reading novels and sharing coffee and social events with other women.

We’ve got it so wrong about the impact of ageing on our brains. Ready for some great news?

There’s a picture of ageing that most people carry in their heads. It’s one of inevitably being increasingly forgetful, irrelevant, and with limited ability to learn. And it’s time to see things differently.

That’s the conviction of Daniel Levitin, an expert in how the brain works.

And the news is good. Because science is now revealing our older years to be very different from the accepted stereotypes. Very good indeed.

You are still a smarty pants.

Daniel Levitin’s been applying his discoveries to the brains and lives of those in their retirement years. Put simply, his message is –

                                       Though your pants might now be bigger, you are still a smarty-pants.

But what about those times you’ve lost your keys – again? Can’t remember thingamajig’s name – again? Walked into a room but can’t remember why – again?

Daniel, a neuroscientist, cognitive psychologist, and with five best-selling books on the science of the brain to his credit says ‘Don’t blame your age because you are just as smart as you were’.

Don’t believe the myth.

The myth is that with ageing comes a steepening loss of being able to remember. Yet, insists Daniel, the decline is far less than we have come to believe. More than that, the way we frame our expectations has a big impact on how we see things.

Daniel points out that having taught undergraduates for his entire career, he’s watched them make all kinds of short-term memory errors. He says, ‘They walk into the wrong classroom; turn up to exams without a pencil; forget something I taught two minutes ago.’

This, he asserts, is all similar to the kinds of things their elders do. But the difference is how we come to describe such events.

These error making students don’t think: ‘This has to be a sign of Alzheimer’s.’ Instead they put it down to being too busy, not having enough sleep, or for some other reason.

But for someone 50 years or so older the prevailing explanation is that some marbles have now gone missing – accompanied by a worry about the health of their brain.

More than that, there’s the fact that older adults have more memories to search through to find what they’re looking for. Our brain becomes crowded with memories and information. It’s not an inability to remember that’s the issue. But that there’s so much more information to sort through.

But don’t we start to forget words as the years go by?

According to one neuroscientist, Deborah Burke, of Pomona College’s Project on Cognition and Ageing, when older adults lose track of individual words it’s not the word itself that’s forgotten but just its sound.

Our brains are better than we realise

Daniel cites research showing our brains in later life actually have distinct advantages. He lists things like –

  • Being able to resist acting on impulse
  • Being able to deny gratification
  • Being able to more easily get on with others
  • Being able to make wise and thoughtful decisions.

For reasons like this, the brainy brain expert insists that those entering retirement are just reaching their prime.

Our thinking can even get better

In fact, insists Daniel, some aspects of memory get better as we age. For instance, our ability to extract patterns and to make accurate predictions improves because we’ve had more experience. For this reason, he argues, if you need an X-ray you want a 70-year-old radiologist reading it, not a 30-year-old one.

Daniel concedes that brains slow down and get smaller over time. It’s a decline starting from about our mid-30s. So with age comes a slowing down at answering quiz questions or retrieving names. But at other forms of mental processing we can get better — and faster.

For example, abstract thinking improves, reveals Daniel’s research. This is the kind of processing that enables mathematical ability, language and problem-solving.

So, too, does practical intelligence – or ‘wisdom’. It’s the ability to assess situations and make the best responses. With your brain’s ability to spot patterns where others don’t, and to understand what’s likely to happen next.

Discovery and learning are still possible

Nor are those older as stuck in their ways as popular myth suggests. Neuroscientists speak of ‘plasticity’ – the ability, or not, for the brain to adapt and learn.

A generation ago it was a ‘given’ among the scientific community that those over-60 had little hope of experiencing any significant remodelling of their brains. But new research tells a different story. It’s one where the brains of older adults are able to take great steps to adapt and learn. The only difference being that it simply takes a bit longer.

This means there’s the potential to keep learning and discovering into our 90s and beyond. We just need to expect it to involve a little more concentration and take a little longer.

All of which is perfectly summed up in the words of Daniel Levitin who says; ‘I’ve come to see ageing as not inevitably a period of decline and loss and irrelevance. But a period of potentially renewed engagement, energy and meaningful activities.’

So it is down to each of us to decide which story we will live by. The one that resigns us to imagined inevitable decay. Or the one that grabs each moment positively to make the rest of our lives the best of our lives. Living in the way God has made us with all the opportunities this offers.

Bestselling books by Daniel Levitin include Successful Ageing: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives and The Changing Mind: A Neuroscientist’s Guide to Ageing Well.

What insights, experiences or questions do you have about thinking and learning new things in your after-work years? Please share them here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Retiring or retired? Here’s the 15 most important questions to ask yourself.

The better the preparation the better the outcome. Isn’t that our perceived wisdom – from travel to DIY? And it equally applies to the major transition from fulltime work to the new era of retirement.

That’s why asking yourself the right questions – and then finding the best answers – can transform the possibly 20 years or so of active life that will follow.

There’s much more to it than ‘will I have enough money’ or ‘where can we travel to’. Much more. And the following 15 questions give you the opportunity to steer your way to a rewarding new era.

Please don’t thrash through them in one sitting. It will blow your brains. And don’t just pick the ones you like. As some are intended to get under your skin a little to provoke the richest outcomes.

One way is to face them in batches of five at intervals – weekly, monthly or whatever. And you can make your own choice on which to tackle first if you see some as a priority. However you do it, don’t rush but give yourself time for some deep reflection.

You might also find it helpful and rewarding to do some of this thinking in the company of others. Perhaps with your nearest and dearest or with others making the same exciting transition.

It’s your call and your future. So here we go.


1.How and where will I find the space to reflect on what this new season can offer?

Investing quality time and thinking now will pay dividends over the years to come. Simply trying to make it up as you go along is like arriving at a country you have never visited without making the right preparations.

To explore the issues check out The 5 key transition steps.

2.What is my number 1 goal?

Above all else, what big thing do you want to achieve in this next season of your life with all its opportunities? It may take courage to name it and own it. But it will be worth it.

3.What do I believe God is calling me to do with my retirement?

It’s been said ‘God loves you and everyone else has a plan for your life’. And the danger is of letting ‘everyone else’ drive the agenda. This may be one of the hardest questions but it is by far the most important.

You might like to see God designed old age on purpose.

4.How will I meet my financial and practical responsibilities to those who depend on me?

If you need professional advice over money then be sure to get it. And check on what reasonable expectations others may have of your support.

There’s on this at Your money – 4 top tips.

5.What legacy do I want to leave and what will it take to make it happen?

There is one absolute certainty – it’s that our lives will not go on for ever. So what will it take over the next decade or so to leave something valuable behind for others?


1.How will I replace the two key losses that come when fulltime work ends – being needed and enjoying relationships?

Don’t underestimate the ‘bereavement’ the end of fulltime work can bring. For a fulfilling retirement you’ll need situations where you matter and where lost relationships can be replaced.

For more see What 1,000 retirees said about life after work. And also Surprising community opportunities.

2.What do I need to put in place for my retirement to be the best it can be? 

The best will not happen all by itself. Some positive planning and action is going to be needed to make it so.

For more on this see The 10 planning commandments for retiring.

3.How will I deepen my relationship with God now there’s more time to do so?

Here’s one of the great opportunities that comes when the daily commute has gone. And it points to the danger of filling the new time available with ‘stuff’ rather than the delight of knowing God even better.

4.What of my skills, knowledge, talents and relationships should I let flourish in this new season?

Nail down what is special and valuable about you that can enrich others – and in turn be rewarding for you.

There’s more about this issue at Don’t waste your life-skills and experience.

5.What new experiences do I want to have and what new skills do I want to learn?

As part of making the rest of your life the best of your life, be specific as to what you want to embrace.

For some inspiration see the AfterWorkNet web page on Opportunities.


1.What is my biggest fear as I look into the future and how will I confront it?

It’s tempting just to bury our fears – or even to pretend we have none. But transition into a whole new way of living can, quite reasonably, generate anxiety. It’s wise to name yours and how you will deal with it.

To understand the challenges ahead see Retirement is a foreign country.

2.Who are the three people I should contact who I neglected when I was working?

It can happen when a driven life pushes us away from what could be productive relationships. So don’t just make a list but reach out.

3.Who do I know who have lived well in their retirement and serve as role models?

Sometimes it can be valuable to see what has worked for others and how this might inform your own plans and decisions.

4.How will I create a balance so my mind, body, and spirit are all engaged?

Indeed, ‘balance’ is the name of the game. And it is not enough to hope it will happen naturally. If only. Rather, careful plans and more than a little discipline will be needed.

5.What would I say to myself in 20 years’ time about the decisions I’m making right now?

Listen to your inner voice. You’ll only get one shot at this. So aim to make decisions you’ll be proud of in the years to come.

Found this helpful? Then please share using the links below.

Is there a question missing? Please share here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Don’t let the Victor Meldrew’s get you. Here’s how.

Of course it could never happen to you, could it? The drift towards grumpiness that can characterise some in their after-work years.

But are you sure? After all, without the focus of employment to occupy us, there’s more time to bemoan the state of the world, our church, our relationships and such?

Is it possible that when we retire we may drift into thinking we deserve a bit of personal pampering? That it’s our right for things to be done our way? This is fuelled by the danger of attitudes hardening as we get older. Leading to us becoming more fixed and less open; more opinionated and less tolerant.

As a result, without realising, we are in danger of drifting towards negativity and a touch of the grumps. We may not go round screaming ‘I can’t believe it!!!’ at regular intervals, but we can too easily head in the direction of being a mini Victor Meldrew.

Yet the Bible says ‘Do everything without complaining’. (Philippians 2:14). And that instruction might be very apposite for those in their years of retirement.

So how can we guard our lives? Here’s some thoughts that may be in the best interest of those around you.

Why we might get it wrong

It is easy to forget that we are now living in the new world of retirement. Things are different. The daily routines have shifted. The security of working life has vanished.

As a result, it’s easy to turn in on ourselves in search of alternative securities. That can mean putting the focus on how we expect things to be done and how they should be.

With this in mind I found some inspiration from Thomas Rainer, founder and CEO of a US internet community. He lists the kind of things he tries to avoid as he becomes more senior as –

  • Having an entitled attitude because of my giving to the church
  • Saying I’ve done my time
  • Focusing more on recreation than on serving
  • Complaining
  • Being more concerned about my preferences than the needs of others

What is at the heart of our life?

Our life has been focussed on clearly defined objectivities. These lead us into all kinds of actions which fill up most of our waking hours. Retirement gives us the chance to re-calibrate our lives and to follow a fresh set of values. Paul defines his values in Romans 12:9 to 21).

They are simple – they don’t need explanation. They demand action

  • Love must be sincere
  • Hate what is evil, cling to what is good
  • Be devoted to one another in love
  • Honour one another above yourselves
  • Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord
  • Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
  • Share with the Lord’s people who are in need
  • Practice hospitality
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn
  • Live in harmony with one another

AND SO ON …….  There is more. It’s a long list. And if we could do half of it, it could transform our lives.

How easy it is to drift into introspection and change resistance. The essence of Paul’s list is looking to the needs of others as being more important than our own needs. Do that and there will be no room for complaining and the grumps.

Paul has defined how to live as a Christian. These things are easy to lose sight of in the after-work era of our lives.

So let us be people of God committed to his purposes and use both time and experience to grow the Kingdom and not a grumpy attitude. We have so much to give and fresh horizons await if only we look to THE SON.

In contrast to Mr Meldrew, you’d better believe it.

If you’ve found this helpful do share it using the links below. And if you have something to add to the conversation please respond to this blog or on our Facebook page.

Dave Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.


The 5 things you should know about those who live longest

The good news is that, on average, people are living longer than ever. The sad news is it’s not everyone and not everywhere.

Yet there are places across the world where people are thriving well into their 100s – healthy and free from the conditions we’ve come to expect with older age. And these communities have much to teach us about what it takes to add healthy years to our lives.

These remarkable ‘living longer’ communities were identified by a major research project from National Geographic. Its leader, Dan Buettner, discovered 5 communities – he calls them Blue Zones – from around the world where people are living some of the longest, healthiest, happiest lives.

Having identified them, Dan and his research team went on to study the lifestyles of those living there. What they discovered offers valuable lessons for the way we live – in community and individually.

But first a caveat. What the research picked up was that the people were not trying to live longer. It was all about the way they naturally lived. Which points to the need for social change generally.

However, that doesn’t stop each of us hearing, learning and acting. So here’s the essence of what each of the 5 Blue Zones communities reveal about adding years to the life God has given us.

1.They eat less meat

This was a discovery from Sardinia, Italy, which is the home to the Earth’s longest living men. Here the common diet is heavy on plants, fish and pulses. With meat not that often on the menu.

Along with what is eaten is the setting in which it happens – often in a family or social setting. Lots of friends and social engagement fights stress and so reduces heart disease, strengthens resistance to infection and keeps our minds sharp.

2.They exercise without thinking about it

This is a lesson from Ikaria, Greece. It revealed people living longest are not those who take time out to exercise full-on. Rather they live in a setting that nudges them into moving every 20 minutes or so without making decisions to do so.

That’s how it is for those on this small Grecian island. The lifestyle, even for the very oldest, involves days of gardening or often walking to meet friends.

3.They have less stress

This take out is from Nicoya, Costa Rica. Here those living into their hundreds have grown up with strong social connections, with lots of visitors. Again, it’s not about doing things; taking action to destress. It’s about a social environment generates less stress in the first place.

4.They have a sense of purpose

This one comes from the community of Loma Linda, California – where the 9,000-members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church there comprise its core. Like so many churches they serve those around them and offer many opportunities for people to volunteer.

This infuses the community with those who have a sense of purpose – a meaning for their lives – with all the life-extending benefits that come from it.

5.They are part of a ‘tribe’ that is healthy

Here it was Okinawa, Japan – where women live longer than anywhere else – which offered the revelation. The community is very united, made up of groups of friends dedicated to each other for life.

It happens because parents cluster their children in groups of five, and send them through life together. These ‘tribes’ commit to providing financial support to others if they are in need. This offers the emotional security that comes from knowing others are always there for you.

And a little more

What might the learnings from the Blue Zones mean for us – those in our active retirement years? I’d suggest, two things.

First, there are great benefits from living a life that matches, as closely as possible, the characteristics of these 5 Blue Zones. Eating more veggies and less meat, keeping active as part of our daily life, minimising stress, having a sense of purpose, and enjoying supportive ‘tribal’ relationships.

Actually, there is a little more to take on board. Researcher Dan Buettner, also notes these long-living communities share some other characteristics. Those who drink wine, are part of a faith community and invest heavily in family relationships – keeping their elderly relatives close and giving their children lots of time and attention – live longer than those who don’t.

Second, any part we can play – actively, politically, or socially – to encourage and enable the communities we are part of to adopt a Blue Zones way of living will reap benefits for those who come after us.

Of course, social change like that takes time. But it has to start at some time and somewhere. And what a great legacy to leave.

Want to explore this some more and add some years to your life? Then head for the website of Blue Zones. It’s full of helpful advice for you and your community – and even has a three-minute online test on your life expectancy.

If this blog has helped you please share it using the links below. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.


Happy Christmas? Here’s 10 ways for it to make you even happier.

In your active retirement, Christmas might be different from how it used to be. Maybe once your home served as the family’s ‘mothership’ where everyone gathered. But now you find your feet are under someone else’s table.

It will still be happy for sure. And be part of the story revealed by fact that men and women aged between 65 and 74 are happier than any other age group according to the National Office of Statistics.

Yet – you should love this – there are ways to make that happiness more intense and beneficial.

Of course, there are challenges to the level of happiness possible at Christmas. There’s the cost in terms of money, emotional energy and hard work. There’s the pressure of the expectations of others, not to mention those we put on ourselves. And stress is heightened by the seemingly never-ending torrent of advertising, which looks charming but actually yells ‘Spend!’

But if we can fight our way through all the commercialism and stress, there’s something very positive to be gained – well worth the time, expense and gravy on the carpet.

Primarily there’s the joy of this seasonal reminder of God stepping into our world; a tiny vulnerable bundle of life at the mercy of humankind. ‘He who was rich but became poor, so that we who are poor could become rich.’ as St Paul wrote.

Yet there’s something else too – as revealed by research from around the world. Because there’s evidence that those who celebrate something in the right way are generally even happier than those who don’t.

What’s that ‘right way’?

Author and social psychologist Fred Bryant believes that it’s all about ‘savouring the good stuff’. By relishing and celebrating our experiences of happiness – including those that Christmas brings, we can build a resilience that helps us manage the tensions and challenges the whole occasion can cause.

Bryant has been called the father of research on ‘savouring’ – the experience of being mindfully engaged and aware of our feelings during positive events. Doing so can create and increase happiness in the short and long run.

His work, along with that of others, identifies a myriad of benefits that come from savouring things like family holiday celebrations. These include stronger relationships, better mental and physical health, and being more able to solve problems creatively.

Using data from over 20,000 people, Matthew Killingsworth, another happiness researcher, identified happiness levels felt at randomly selected moments during daily life. And it turned out that people are happier than usual at times like Christmas.

He recommends ten ways to ‘savour’ these moments, to put them to work for our benefit. No matter how many Christmases you have under your belt, they’re all worth trying.

  1. Share your good feelings with others. Treat positive events like positive news. Tell someone when you feel particularly thankful.
  2. Take a mental photograph. Spend a moment being aware of things you want to remember later that have brought you pleasure.
  3. Pat yourself on the back. Acknowledge the blessings resulting from all your hard work and smart planning.
  4. Focus on your senses. Take time to concentrate on the sounds, smells, tastes, feelings and sights involved with what you are enjoying. One great way is simply to linger over meals.
  5. Be expressive. Demonstrate excitement when something good is happening – it reinforces the experience.
  6. Contrast it to the opposite outcome. Think what it would have been like if this had not happened.
  7. Get caught up in the experience. Focus and don’t let the moment pass, or be distracted from it. Children are much better than adults at this.
  8. Be thankful. Express your gratitude to those providing these experiences to savour. And pause to express thanks before you eat – to the cook and to God!
  9. Don’t be negative. When things go wrong or don’t turn out as well as you’d hoped, still find something positive in it all.
  10. Remember that time is fleeting. Be determined to relish the moments that bring you pleasure, knowing they pass more swiftly than we might wish.

Research shows that all these actions lead to greater feelings of happiness and satisfaction. And they don’t only apply to Christmas and other happy events. They will also deepen our appreciation for all that God has done for us. So give them a try.

Do you have a way to enhance your experiences of happiness? Please share it here or on our AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

You can share this blog with others by using the links below.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

Each of these 8 transferable skills opens doors to rewarding work – paid or voluntary. Which is yours?


A key to flourishing in retirement is to keep active – in mind, body and spirit. One way is to find work – paid or voluntary. Though in a less demanding and time consuming role.

But what if the job you have done doesn’t have a part-time equivalent? Or you simply don’t want more of the same?

Don’t worry, as there’s hope. The secret, when looking, not to think ‘job role’ as there may not be a round hole waiting that matches the one you once had. Instead, focus on the ‘life skills’ you have developed – because they open doors.

Indeed, there are 8 distinct transferable skills that can lead to a rewarding role. That’s what RestLess, an organisation helping those who are ‘older’ find rewarding roles, have identified.

And here they come. Check out which are yours and explore the opportunities.

1. Communication skills

Being a good communicator tends to mean you are a good listener and able to express yourself clearly and concisely, verbally and in writing

If you’ve a track record in a role requiring that kind of ability you have something that’s much needed.

Opportunities include: Teaching English as a foreign language, Counselling, Teaching assistant, Receptionist, Customer service.

2. Planning, organisation and time management skills

Employers love organised people because they get things done. Such people are great at setting goals and planning the steps needed to complete them. Don’t that? Then you are on your way.

Opportunities include: Party planner, Project manager, Admin assistant, Personal assistant, Travel planner.

3. Creativity

A creative person uses their imagination to think outside the box and bring new light on old ideas. And there are plenty of roles that call for such skills.

Opportunities include: Florist, Art therapy, Photographer, Furniture restorer.

4. The ability to keep calm under pressure

Not everyone can keep calm in a high pressure environment. If you’ve previously held roles where you have been able to keep calm and carry on you may be an ideal candidate.

Opportunities include: Doula, Emergency call handler, Carer.

5. People skills

People with exceptional people skills tend to have high levels of emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion. They are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes, consider how they may be feeling, and produce a response that the receiver will be particularly receptive to.

Opportunities include: Counsellor, Customer service, Call centre, Tour guide, Personal shopper.

6. Leadership skills

A strong leader takes charge of situations and motivates and inspire others to achieve their goals. They are also problem solvers who delegate, plan and coordinate.

Opportunities include: Become your own boss, Franchise owner, Project manager, Youth worker, Volunteer team leader.

7. Technological skills

Whether you have skills in coding, databases or social media platforms, there are roles out there waiting for what you have learned over the years.

Opportunities include: IT consultant, Video editor, Social media officer, Digital marketer, Charity back office support.

8. Numeracy skills

Good with numbers and happy to keep crunching them? There are openings depending the level of responsibility you’d like to have and how sociable you wish to be.

Opportunities include: Book keeper, Maths teacher, Credit controller.

Now for some final words of wisdom from RestLess – who did this thinking and have lots more resources to help. They say, ‘Always remember employers are looking for talented individuals first and foremost. And many are happy to offer training for those with the right transferable skills and attributes’.

For links to a mass of opportunities and wisdom on working in later life see the website RestLess.

You’ll also find ideas and resources on the AfterWorkNet webpages under Opportunities and Serving.

If you have found this helpful do please share it using the links below.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

What 1,000 retirees said about their life after work may shock you.

The assumption is that life after full time work will be one of bliss. No longer needing to set the alarm. More time to travel, relax, socialise, and ‘get things done’.

But a survey of 1,000 UK retirees tells a very different story. Indeed, it’s a wakeup call for those heading for life after fulltime work or already drifting through it.

Above all, it highlights the dangers that come from not replacing the two key things that are lost when work ends – purpose and companionship. Otherwise, as the research shows, retirees can be left longing for the benefits that came from the career they left behind.

The eye-opening research, conducted for Home Instead Senior Care, speaks of those –

Retired to disappointment

Feelings of being deeply disappointed by their retirement were expressed by 1 in 5.

Prodding deeper, a quarter put this down to now having no real routine in their day-to-day life. And a third saying retirement had left them feeling they had lost their purpose in life.

Missing the workplace

Asked what they missed most about the world of work, almost half said this was spending time with their colleagues. With a third saying they missed the workplace banter.

For almost 4 out of 10, missed was the income their job had provided as they were no longer able to afford the things they wanted to do.

And, for almost a third, there was a yearning to have an active mind. In fact, well over half agreed with the statement that ‘work is good for mental health’.

The desire to still have work in one form or another was also highlighted. More than a third expressed the belief that it’s important to have something like part-time work or a hobby after retiring.

Missing the fun of work

Over half of those surveyed said they had found working fun and they missed it. With an almost equal number saying a problems with not working is they miss being around people.

Wished they had kept working longer

Perhaps the most revealing finding of all is that a quarter of the retirees surveyed believed they had quit work too soon. The average respondent said they would have happily continued some kind of work for another seven years.

That finding encouraged those behind the survey to launch a campaign encouraging people to UnRetire and so reap the benefits working life brings.

Lack of support for retirees

Also revealing was the perceived lack of support from employers to help people make the transition. Two in 4 said they had received too little. And a third saying they had received no support at all.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Wise retirees know that to flourish in their new era means doing more than making the most of their new freedom. It also involves actively seeking to replace the purpose and companionship they have left behind.

If that matters to you, check out the following AfterWorkNet web pages on Opportunities and Serving.

Do you an experience of how you replaced the purpose and companionship of your workplace in your retirement? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.


Having a dog could save your life. Here’s why and how.

When it comes to dogs that save lives you probably think of a St Bernard braving the snow. Or a sniffer dog finding those trapped under wreckage. But please think again.

Be they Crufts champions or the lowliest mutt, every dog is a potential lifesaver and life extender. That’s what researchers have discovered on analysing data from almost 4 million people.

To put it simply – they found those who own a dog likely to live longer than those who don’t. How much longer?

The review, bringing together ten studies and published for the American Heart Association, reveals dog owners were 24 per cent less likely to die over a ten year period than sans-pooch people.

Why does owning a dog have such a protective effect on our health – especially for people living alone or recovering from heart disease?

According to this research, published in the journal Circulation, dog owners are likely to benefit from lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol and a lowered stress response.

Those behind the study point to three main reasons–

Exercise: People with dogs move about more – walking and playing with them. And, unlike non-dog owners, have a built in ‘nagger’ to make sure this activity happens.

For more on the value of exercise see the AfterWorkNet blog Do the washing up to live longer.

Fresh air: It seems the human body does better when able to fill its lungs with fresh air and let sunlight fall in its skin. And that’s what happens when people go ‘walkies’

Companionship: Loneliness is a killer, science has shown. It can do as much harm to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

As Dr Dhruv S Kazi said in a commentary on the research findings, ‘Dogs offer companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve overall mood.’ All of which improve mental health and reduce stress-related wear and tear on our body and heart.

For more on the impact of loneliness see the AfterWorkNet web pages on The Lonely.

All of this points to the two great lifesaving outcomes a four legged friend can deliver. These being –

Better overall health

Dog ownership was associated with a 24 percent risk reduction in dying for any reason compared to those who don’t own a dog.

All that walking, fresh air and companionship adds years to life.

Better recovery

Another dog-related study, reported in the same issue of Circulation, looked at the impact of pet ownership on stroke and heart attack survivors. Using data from more than 300,000 Swedish patients together with that from the national dog registr, it showed –

  • Heart attack patients living alone and owning a dog were a third less likely to suffer another heart attack than those who were canine free.
  • Stroke patients living alone with a dog were more than a quarter less likely to suffer another one.

Dr Tove Fall of Uppsala University, who was behind the research said, ‘If this was a drug, it would make a pharmaceutical company very rich.’

Returning to the major study, the message is ‘don’t hang about – get a dog’. Its lead author Caroline Kramer points out, ‘The overall understanding of cardiovascular health is the earlier we implement healthier behaviours the better.’

To sum up. If you have a dog, be thankful for the extra years your companion is likely to bestow on you. Which is what ‘best friends’ do.

No dog? You have three options.

  1. Get one.
  2. Borrow one – offer to do the walking, or dog sit.
  3. Make sure you experience those things a dog would contribute to your life in some other way.

It may be a dog’s life. But there can be more life in the old dog yet – if you have a dog.

Have you an experience of your life being richer and more healthy thanks to having a dog? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance. He doesn’t have a dog.

Worried about dementia? Then here’s some very good news.

If you live in the UK you are likely to worry more about developing dementia in your retirement than those in any other country. That’s according to research by the global insurance company AEGON.

To put it in numbers, two in five in the UK have anxieties about developing dementia compared to one in three globally.

But why such a high level of worry?

Perhaps it has it has a certain Job-like resonance. If you remember, Job sat on a refuse tip, scratching his skin with pieces of broken pottery, when he said, ‘What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true.’ 

Why had he been in such dread? Nothing in his life beforehand had justified his worrying. He was a successful businessman, a leader in the community, and a patriarch of a large prospering family.

His worrying was all based on ‘what if…’ Perhaps he was influenced by what he saw happening to people around him. And perhaps that’s how it is in the UK regarding fear of developing dementia.

Though not so much what we see but, rather, what we read and hear. And we’d worry less if we could see our way past so much myth and misunderstanding about the condition. So let me give you some good news.

It’s not as prevalent as you may think: You may have read there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. However, that figure is not based on evidence: Rather, there are currently ‘only’ 537,000 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK according to

Why is that number so wrong? It’s because the inflated figure comes from 1980s projections when dementia was thought to be rolling in like a tsunami. It’s a supposition, not a fact.

The numbers are falling and not rising: Studies quoted in the New Scientist Live show the number impacted by dementia has dropped by a fifth over the past two decades. To quote, ‘Four out of five large studies in different European countries have now suggested our chance of getting dementia by any particular age is less than that of previous generations.’

Though the number impacted in the UK has stayed the same, the percentage is less due to the increase in population. This is probably due to the growing focus on healthy living and preventative measures. These include dealing with loneliness, depression and stress, with studies showing that depression slows blood flow to the brain and people who suffer chronic stress in midlife are more likely to develop dementia.

Indeed, a 35 yearlong study of men living in Caerphilly showed those who stuck to healthy living guidelines saw their risk of dementia more than halved.

So this could be a good time to stop worrying. Especially as research increasingly shows that people with a negative view of being old are more likely to be unhappy, have more health issues in their later years, and have earlier deaths.

So beware of being a Job. And keep in mind those words from the Bible’s book of Proverbs, ‘Above everything else, guard your heart; for it is the source of all of life’s consequences.’ Proverbs 4:23 CJB.

The answer seems to be – take the Scriptures seriously; eat and live sensibly, and watch what you are thinking and reading.

Louise Morse

For some wise advice on heath take a look at the AfterWorkNet webpages on Health and Fitness. And if you have insights or questions on the issue of dementia do share them here or with our Facebook group.

Louise Morse is a popular speaker and writer about old age, including dementia, and follows current research on the issues. She’s media and external affairs manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity giving practical and spiritual support to older people.

Over-busy in your retirement? Try these 4 litmus test questions.

Are you one of those who came to the end of fulltime work with a growing list of plans and projects? Who relished the gift of ‘free’ time opening up opportunities for volunteering, family, new hobbies, seeing the world, and more?

But, as time passes, perhaps reality has dawned. Through your mind, and maybe from your lips, run words like –

‘I seem to be busier now than I’ve ever been’.

‘Busy? Tell me about it!’

‘I just don’t know where the time goes. I never seem to stop’.

Somehow an overcrowded life has snuck up and ambushed you. Not exactly how you’d expected life to pan out once you’d packed up the daily grind. But here you are, and, sad to say, ‘busier’ is not necessarily ‘happier’. ‘Busier’ can all too easily lead to stress, burn out, ill health and simply take away the shine of these golden years.

So, what about eliminating some of the things that make our post-work lives over-busy? Or, at least, to consider seriously what that might look like?

Let me pose four questions every over-busy retiree would do well to reflect on.

What ‘must do’ things in your life don’t you enjoy?

Okay, so we have to live with the reality that not everything in life ‘sparks joy’! Like cleaning the oven. And if gardening and maintenance float your boat then fine.

However, what if too many ‘must do’ things are robbing you of precious time to bring enjoyment and meaning to you and to others?

Could you simplify the garden so it’s easier to manage? Be less ambitious about it?

Would downsizing your home crack it – especially if this meant less chores? And the money that’s released could give you a little extra to pay for others to do some of the things that take up your time.

This leads to a very big principle that needs evaluating at this stage of your life. It is the difference between ‘cost’ and ‘convenience’.

Like me, you have probably made ‘cost’ the priority. Chosen to save paying out even if it means having to do the joy yourself. But this might be the moment to look at this differently.

At this stage of life, time is precious and the need to keep costs to a minimum no matter what may be less of an issue. So are there chores you have always done that it would be more convenient and beneficial to pay someone else to do.

In this way, for a small expenditure, you might be able to have others do what you don’t enjoy and have time and energy to invest as a result.

What choices don’t enrich and fulfil your life?

Again, not everything in life can be wonderful. But you should try to make as much of it as possible enriching and fulfilling.

The enemy to this happening may come in the guise of the requests that come because others think you have time available. This all too easily leads to giving up time to serve on committees and rotas that were never on your wish list.

Surprisingly, this can even involve the level of care for grandchildren. Shock horror? Yet I’ve heard too many tales of grandparents feeling trapped because their children assume endless babysitting and day care is the order of the day.

Of course we love the little ones, if we have them. But we also have the right to our own choices regarding when enough is enough.

In which case, and you need an exit strategy to some of your current commitments read the next piece of advice.

What are you doing simply because you should have said ‘no’?

Now is the time to be honest – because none of us like to admit we bottled it when asked to do something we really should have said ‘no’ to.

The problem is that going back now is even harder than saying ‘no’ in the first place! But we’re talking about your over-busy life here. Time to be brave.

Remember, if someone feels they have the right to ask us to do something, we equally have the right to say ‘no’. And we can say no without feeling we need to make excuses, give some kind of justification and take on guilt.

When it comes to fending off initial requests you’ll find a ton of helpful advice on my past blog All You Need to Know About Saying ‘no’.

But what about these existing commitments you’ve already agreed to?

If you genuinely believe you need to carve out some more free time try this –

  • Take a deep breath and gather up inside you an absolute commitment not to fudge the issue.
  • Say something like, ‘I know you may not want to hear this but I’ve become over-committed and need free up some time. This means I’m no longer going to be able to . . . . .’
  • Agree a firm date to bring the commitment to an end.
  • Don’t get into a discussion and be clear that it’s not your responsibility to find someone to replace what you have been doing.
  • Change the conversation or end it. But don’t linger.

Who are the people who dampen your spirit?

One of the marks of a genuine Christian faith is to have a love for people – all people. The lovely and the not-so-lovely. Those who give and those who take. Those who enrich our lives and those capable of sucking us dry.

Nothing I’m about to say changes that. But such love doesn’t mean spending a disproportionate time with those who drag you down. Life is too precious and too short to major on people who have A Levels in whinging, gossiping and complaining.

It’s better to prioritise people with a positive attitude, who enrich your life and are fun to be with. In that way you’ll also have the inner strength, and be more valuable, to support those who are going through tough times.

There’s every reason why the years that lie ahead could be the best of your life. But for that to happen you need to make some wise choices and sometimes some hard decisions.

Have you an experience to share of pruning your after-work life? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

Do the washing up to live longer – says a major new report.

You can forget the gym, jogging and workouts. Almost as good for your health is vacuuming or mowing the lawn. Even just an hour of chores a day cuts your risk of an early death in half.

That’s good news for those like me, who believe if God meant us to sweat he’d have put drainpipes under our arms.

Where does this life-giving and guilt reducing news come from? It’s a drum roll for a team of researchers in Norway’s School of Sport Sciences. They analysed 8 studies from the US, UK, and Scandinavia that covered 36,000 adults aged 40 and over.

I can’t resist giving you the study’s full title. It’s ‘Dose-response associations between accelerometry measured physical activity and sedentary tie and all cause mortality: systematic review and harmonised meta-analysis’.

You deserve an extra year of life just for reading that. But what can we learn f this major and authoritative study?

First, you don’t have to almost kill yourself to have a health benefit from exercise.

The researchers identified that 5 minutes of moderate activity a day halved the risk of adults dying over the next six years. Okay, so the study focused on those younger than the ‘after-work’ generation. But don’t knock the principle.

Indeed, the report says, ‘The observation that light intensity physical activity also provided substantial health benefits . . .  suggests older people and those not able to be physically active at higher intensities will still benefit from just moving around’.

Second, regular stuff – like housework – counts as ‘exercise’

Those volunteers taking part in the research wore devices to measure the intensity of their movements. When this was correlated to their health and lifespan the discovery was surprising.

It was that doing daily chores had unexpected benefits.

What could be defined as ‘moderate activity’ included vacuuming, mowing the lawn, cooking, cleaning and other such household tasks. And the researchers identified that an hour of light domestic activity added to someone’s lifespan.

The report has no mention of how much credit you get for crawling round the floor with grandchild. Or trying to strap them into a car seat. But they must surely be worth the equivalent of vacuuming a mansion or cutting the grass at Wimbledon.

A co-author of the report, Dr Charlotte Edwardson, of the University of Leicester was quoted by Mailonline saying the findings “show ‘physical activity of any intensity lowers the risk of death. Reinforcing the saying “Doing something is better than doing nothing”.’

She added, ‘‘If you’re someone who doesn’t achieve the recommended levels of moderate intensity physical activity, then doing more light activity, for example, pottering around more at work or at home and just generally being on your feet more, will still be beneficial.’

Third, get off your backside if you want to live longer.

Ready for this? Sitting down for 9.5 hours a day more than doubles the risk of an early death. And that ‘sitting down’ covers everything from being a couch potato to hunching over a computer.

Worse still, every hour of inactivity above the 9.5 hours threshold increases the danger of death even further.

So it’s not enough to literally sit back – for many hours – taking credit for some life-extending household activity you have done. Do that for too long and the benefits go steeply into reverse.

To quote from the NHS guidelines on activity, ‘All adults should break up long periods of sitting with light activity.’

I’d suggest the best response to this news is not to quip, ‘Now we know why women live longer’. Or ‘Does this mean the Queen must be good with a Hoover?’. But to sit up, stand up and do something.

As for me,  it’s time to remove myself from my laptop and head for the vacuum cleaner. It has to be done.

Meanwhile, for more on the value of exercise to your help and wellbeing, see the AfterWorkNet webpages on Keeping Fit. And catch up with what sport can do for you at our blog Add Years To Your Life While Having Fun And Making Friends.

Do you have something to add about keeping fit? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

The 3 key ‘growing older’ lessons from the life of St Paul you won’t want to miss

Growing old in the best way can be a challenge – amid the changing circumstances, pressures and difficulties that can often go with it. This can be true for us. And it was also true of the Apostle Paul and has much to teach us.

Paul is one of the few people in the New Testament whose life journey we can trace. Through the record of Acts and Paul’s letters we can examine the life of someone who had journeyed with Christ and was growing older in Christ.

What we discover is, in his advancing years, Paul did three things we would be wise to take on board – all of which spring out of his letter to the church in Philippi.

1. Paul met changing circumstances head-on

Change is often a challenge as we make the transition from fulltime work into and through the retirement years. It may involve a new home, lower income, fresh responsibilities, the loss of old relationships and status. And also adjusting to a life that allegedly offers more time and greater choice.

Paul, too, had to respond to huge changes as his life progressed.

We meet him first as a zealous young Pharisee, standing by impassively at the stoning of Stephen. Then he met Jesus and his world was turned upside down.

What followed involved a variety of experiences as he travelled: violent opposition, shipwreck, imprisonment, disappointments and, surely, times of loneliness. But nothing shattered Paul’s resolve to follow his Lord by preaching the gospel, teaching young believers and praying for them day and night.

What was Paul’s secret to keep going no matter how dramatically his situation changed? It was this. He didn’t ask ‘God what are you doing to me?’ Instead, he responded with the question ‘God what are you doing in this situation?’

He expressed it to the church at Philippi like this; ‘I will rejoice, for I know through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as is my eager expectation and hope…’ Philippians 1.18 – 20.

To do the same, you will need to call upon the determination to trust that God is all-powerful, and truly cares about you. And, even if the present looks bleak, he is inviting you to play a part in building his kingdom in some way.

Note that Paul acknowledges the importance of others’ prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit. We need these too as we journey through life’s changes and the challenges they can bring.

2. Paul cultivated the right attitude

How do you find yourself responding when difficulties come into your life and things do not go your way? Paul knew he must practise what he preached.

And what he preached was the need for the kind of attitude Jesus had. He wrote of the way Jesus ‘made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’ Philippians 2.8

More than that, at the time Paul was writing to the Philippian Christians, he knew death was not far from him. Perhaps you too are facing a major crisis that threatens your future.

Paul’s response was to submit himself to God, saying ‘If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but is more necessary for you that I remain in the body’. Philippians 2. 22 – 24

Now there’s an amazing attitude to be emulated – one of not seeking our own way but being humble seeking to serve others.

3. Paul resolved to do everything without complaining

Grumbling can all too easily become our default response to life. It can happen without us realising as we face situations and circumstances not of our choosing. Sadly, the accumulation of long years of experience doesn’t make complaining or arguing any less likely.

Paul’s words to the church in Philippi were not specifically aimed at its older members but they were included in his exhortation to ‘Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights…’ Philippians 2.14 -15

In our later years we are not called so much to be perfect as to be different. And Paul’s own experience is a shining example as to what that could look like for all of us.

These thoughts were inspired by insights from Rob Merchant, Director of Dispersed Learning at St Mellitus College, Chelmsford.

Are there other ways in which the life or words of St Paul are a guide to you in your days after fulltime work? Please share them here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group. Thank you.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently moved from office-based to working from home. She writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. Celia also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!


Sing? You? Here’s the 10 life-improving reasons why you should.

Singing is good for you. I know as I’ve seen it to be true in the lives of the more than 500 people in the choirs I have led – and also for me.

Now 70, I lead three community choirs with members of all ages singing pop, rock, gospel and soul. Time and again members tell me singing has been a life saver, especially in retirement years when life can have additional challenges.

This is my own story too, with music and singing playing a huge part in my own recovery from cancer four years ago.

That’s why I’d encourage you to think seriously about joining a choir. But before I share my top 10 reasons to sing, here’s a little more of my own story.

It started with a dream. I woke one night, sat bolt upright and started singing ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer’ – much to the shock and surprise of my wife.

I’d been watching an inspiring arrangement of this great old hymn on Songs Of Praise, performed by a male voice choir. And couldn’t stop thinking about the huge potential for a community choir in our own area.

Within a couple of weeks, the choir was launched – some 9 years ago.

Even though I was nearing retirement age, my wife Sarah and I re-opened a derelict NHS Chapel on a decommissioned hospital site. It was to be the venue for our first choir rehearsal.

The word spread, people invited friends and, within 18 months, we had a choir with 200 members. What I’d discovered was a wonderful way to improve healthy, build relationships and a great missional opportunity for the church.

Singing is good for you in body, mind and spirit. Which all the latest research confirms. So here they come. My Top Ten list of the benefits of singing together.

1. Your immune system is strengthened and reinforced.

The University of Frankfurt got choir members to sing Mozart’s ‘Requiem’. After taking blood tests, their research showed the amount of proteins in the immune system that function as antibodies and so fight of infections were significantly higher.

2. Singing keeps you in good physical shape.

Singing can be an excellent form of exercise, especially in a day and age where many of us live quite sedentary lives. Our lungs get a good workout and circulation is improved. It is also very likely that singing can increase aerobic capacity and stamina.

3. Your posture is improved.

At our choir rehearsals we work on having a good body posture. This takes us into a stress-free zone and can help relieve tension and aches and pains.

4. You can end up sleeping better.

A clinical trial by Exeter University and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, showed the singing exercises strengthen certain throat muscles. This also lessened symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition common to many in which they stop breathing momentarily during deep sleep.

5. Singing has anti-depressant benefits which happen naturally.

As we sing endorphins – brain chemicals – are released .that make you feel uplifted and positive.

Also, scientists have identified a tiny organ in the ear called the sacculus, which responds to the frequencies created by singing. The response creates an immediate sense of pleasure, regardless of what the singing sounds like. Which is a great encouragement to those who think they can’t sing.

6. Singing gets those brain cells moving.

Mental alertness is improved when blood circulation and an oxygenated blood stream allows more oxygen to the brain. The result is mental alertness, concentration, and memory enhancement.

My own method of “Sing and Repeat” aids this process, as the brain focusses the mind on picking up harmonies and listening to instructions.

No surprise then that The Alzheimer’s Society has established a Singing for the Brain service to help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s maintain their memories.

7. Mind, body and spirit are rejuvenated.

Retirement need not be restrictive. Singing in a choir helps to release feelings of freedom and liberty. You can be yourself in the presence of like-minded people also on their own personal journey of self-discovery and liberation.

8. Community choirs build community.

In our choirs, we have people from different background. And because we have a common goal, we work together, make new friends and build on friendships of old, which often take on a new lease of life.

9. Singing boosts self-confidence.

Time and time again I’ve seen choir members come with personal hang-ups and anxieties and often with a very low self-esteem. But after a few months, confidence and an ‘I can do this’ attitude starts to grow.

10. Developing communication skills

Singing with others is great fun and builds community and communication skills.

So there you have it.

Singing is very good for you in so many ways and for those looking for new relationships when fulltime work is over, it is a new lease of life. We should embrace it, enjoy it and celebrate the benefits!

To know more about joining a choir, or setting one up, read my new eBook, ‘Sing Your Way To Health In Body, Mind And Spirit ’. It has all you need and even includes singing exercises and warm-ups. Click the link SteveFlashmanSing:

Steve Flashman

What are your experiences of singing? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Steve Flashman was a professional singer for many years. Currently he’s a semi-retired Vicar looking after two parish churches in Buckinghamshire. Other than singing, for fun he rides a Triumph America 865, writes and records songs and is a published author.

Heading for retirement? Here’s 4 wise first steps to doing it right.

No one should let retirement sneak up on them. To assume ‘it will all be alright on the night’ is not the wisest approach – especially as most who hit this major life-change know when it will happen.

Based on my own experience and that of others, there are some simple guidelines to help plan for the season when fulltime paid work ends.

Draw up an agenda

Take time to nail down the things you’d like to do and to avoid. And be sure to talk this through with your partner if you have one. It’s no good planning days on the Costa Brava if they have a priority to be with grandchildren in Birmingham

Of course, you may not even be free to make exactly the plans that you wish. Being needed to care for an elderly parent of sit grandchildren. But, even then, an agenda will help clarify what can and can’t be.

Be clear on the kind of life you want

When it comes to having an agenda, the more profound parts are what you might call ‘spiritual’ goals. Not so much about what kind of things you wish to do but what kind of life you desire to lead.

Given the opportunity, are there ambitions you would love to have the chance to fulfil? Things like –

  • Learning a language
  • Compiling your family archive
  • Signing up for voluntary work
  • Visiting the Holy Land
  • Taking up a new hobby
  • Finding old friends and renewing old contact

If you are someone with apprehensions about retirement, such a list can make it seem more appealing. And for some inspiration on the possibities ahead see the AfterWorkNet webpages on New Opportunities.

For many, what is of greater importance than all of this is to ask ‘what might God want from these precious years of retirement?’ The gift of extra time can offer space for prayer and reflection, space which we may well have missed in the busy-ness of pre-retirement life.

Freed from responsibilities, we can take on new ones – in church, in our community or among our own circle of friends and neighbours – a new kind of ‘calling’ or vocation in our later years.

There are so many opportunities for which age is not barrier. Again, for inspiration, see the AfterWorkNet webpages on Serving.

Things you may want to avoid

As you think ahead, it’s worth considering what you might want to plan to avoid. Are you happy to be drawn into running things – clubs, groups, courses. Because you can be sure the invitations will come.

Those newly parted from the daily grind are rightly seen as a marvellous resource of untapped energy. Ask yourself if you are ready for this and what your response should be if you are approached.

Fight mental rust

On my own agenda was the need to avoid boredom and mental stagnation. Having kept my brain pretty busy at work I didn’t want it to rust in my retirement.

Some people use a daily crossword or Sudoku, or learn how to explore the internet. For me it has been regular Bible reading, challenging radio programmes, books, the theatre, an interesting daily newspaper and enriching conversations.

Take these steps and you are on your way to a retirement that’s a positive and exciting new chapter in your life.

David Winter – adapted from his book The Highway Code for Retirement (CWR)

Found this blog helpful? Then please share it using the links below. And if you have suggestions for someone nearing the end of fulltime work please share then here or our Facebook group. Thank you..

David Winter has retired three times from different settings, including as a Parish Priest and as the BBC’s Head of Religious Broadcasting. He was a regular contributor to Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ for more than 20 years.

It’s time to get bolder about getting older

It was realising he was the oldest player at a hockey tournament that shook Carl Honoré to the core. And it caused a stream of questions.

Though playing well, Carl wondered –

‘Do I look out of place?

‘Are people laughing at me?’

‘Should I take up a more gentle pastime?

Above all, Carl recalls, ‘It got me thinking about how we often feel ashamed and afraid of growing older. And how we imagine it’s all about loss, decline, decrepitude and sadness.’

That was underlined when Carl discovered ‘age’ is the number one answer on a Google Search when you type in ‘I lie about my…’

The shock at that hockey tournament spurred Carl, an author of several best-selling books, to research and write. His motivation – to see if there was another, happier, story to tell about ageing.

The result was his book ‘Bolder – making the most of our longer lives’. Which, he confesses, ‘was really about helping me feel better about my own advancing years.’

What did Carl discover? That, ‘So many of my own downbeat assumptions about ageing turned out to be wrong. And because – and this is the really exciting bit – so many things can get better as we grow older.

What are some of the positives about aging that Carl identified? He would tell you –

People are generally more contented in later life.

Across the world happiness seems to follow a U-shaped curve, bottoming out in middle age and then rising again thereafter.

Carl points out even Pete Townshend confessed to feeling more cheerful in his 60s than he was when he wrote one of the most ageist lines in the pop music canon: ‘Hope I die before I get old.’

We becomes more comfortable in our own skin and less worried about what others think of us. We tend to form stronger, more fulfilling relationships as we age. Ageing also makes many of us more altruistic and eager to serve the common good.

The things that happen to our bodies and brains are not as bad as we may fear.

That’s because, these days, we have more and more levers to pull – nutrition, technology, medicine, exercise – to slow the physical decline. All of which opens the potential to go on doing amazing things with our bodies deep into later life.

The evidence that this is true seems to be in the media almost every day, with stories of those considered ‘well beyond it’ kitesurfing, climbing mountains, running marathons, cycling long distance, and swimming competitively.

Today, the average over-65-year-old is in better shape than ever before. And, as Carl notes in his book, Japan is even toying with moving the age when someone is deemed rojin, or old, from 65 to 75.

Our brains do a great job compensating when we lose some cognitive zip.

That’s why creativity can carry on right up to the end of our lives. Carl notes some experts think ageing alters the brain structure in ways that make us even more creative.

Older adults also tend to be better at seeing the big picture, embracing compromise, weighing multiple points of view and accepting that knowledge can only take you so far.

Carl enthuses, ‘When tackling problems in a familiar field, older brains are quicker to spot the patterns and details that open the door to finding a solution.

He also cites researchers at Harvard University who concluded that four key skills do not ripen fully until around the age of 50: arithmetic, vocabulary, general knowledge and a grasp of how the world works.

Social and emotional smarts often improve with age.

We get better at reading people. Our richer vocabulary helps us speak, write and communicate better and our capacity to co-operate and negotiate improves.

We also get better at putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, finding compromises and resolving conflicts. As we age, we become less prone to wild swings of emotion and better able to cope with negative feelings such as anger, fear and envy. In other words, as Carl puts it, ‘We find it easier to keep our heads while all about us are losing theirs.’

With Carl having said he wrote the book to meet his own needs, you may wonder if it has worked. Has it changed him? Carl’s answer is, ‘Yes, profoundly. It has made me feel so much more at ease with the idea of growing older.’

And what does he hope ‘Bolder’ will do for those who read it? Carl’s answer is, ‘To see ageing in a completely new light. To move from fear and dread to the kind of understanding and optimism that will help them make the most of their lives – at every age.’

To get the big picture read Carl Honoré’s book Bolder: Making The Most Of Our Longer Lives published by Simon & Schuster.

What makes you feel good about your advancing years? Please tell us here or share with the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

What if you could live 7½ years longer without doing anything difficult or unpleasant? Well you can – and here’s how.

Imagine it. Living longer – 7½ years longer – by using a procedure that costs you nothing and is neither difficult nor unpleasant. Unbelievable? Not according to solid research into real lives.

All it involves is thinking positively about aging. Yes, it really is as simple as that. To begin seeing the experience of ‘aging’ as positive and not negative.

Does that all sound too simple and farfetched? Then trust the insight of neurologist Dr Joshua Kornbluth of the Global Brain Health Institute – captured in a brilliant video that’s a must watch –  and here’s the link.

To put Dr Josh’s message simply, things change for the better when we start thinking ‘good thoughts’ about being old. And he points to research showing that –

People with a positive attitude towards aging live, on average, seven and a half years longer than those with a negative attitude.

Such a positive attitude makes them feel younger as well – seeing themselves as younger than their actual age.

The research comes from the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement led by Prof Becca Levy of Yale University. Among its findings was that ‘older individuals’ with ‘more positive self-perceptions of aging’ lived seven and a half years longer than ‘those with less positive self-perceptions of aging’.

However, such a positive attitude is not easy because an ‘enemy’ causes us to feel the opposite. That enemy is ‘ageism’, stresses Dr Josh. This is the prevailing mind-set in our society that discriminates against people just because of their age. He even calls this a ‘social sickness’.

As Prof Becca points out, we form our view of age as a stereotype long before becoming old. And so grow up accepting this negative view of aging without question.

The way Prof Josh puts it is that, as kids we heard the message that old age was ‘just awful’. So it’s hard to see aging as positive when, from our earliest years, we’ve seen it as the opposite.

And the negative reinforcement doesn’t stop there.

The time comes when our flush of youth has gone down the pan. From that moment on, powerful commercial forces spend billions telling us to buy their stuff to fend off the dreaded aging process.

In addition, the voices in our ears and the actions of society, carry the associations of ‘burden’, ‘scrap heap’, ‘sell-by date’ and more. The prevailing tide is to see those who are older as of less value, less importance, a burden rather than a blessing.

Put all that together and there’s no other way to say it – ageism is rife. Which makes it desperately hard for those who age to see it as positive and, thus, benefit from the added years such a mind-set can bring.

So how do we make the transition to seeing our advancing years as positive, with the potential to add years to our lifespan? Here’s some wisdom from Dr Josh and others.

Be positive about the happiness older age brings

Despite what they are told to expect, when people get to their older years they discover it is not bad at all. Indeed, studies show this may be the happiest time since their teenage years. See our blog The happiest of all.

A good dose of expecting to be happier, and then experiencing it, is a great fertiliser for a positive attitude.

Be positive about the enviable attributes older age brings

The outstanding attribute that comes with older years is ‘wisdom. Partly this is down to the experience that accumulates by having clocked up more years than those who are younger.

But this is multiplied by our new stage of life being far less cluttered and releasing us to see wood from the trees.

As Dr Kate Rankin says on the video, ‘One of the things that’s beautiful about wisdom is you are able to know what’s important and what’s not. You’re able to see what’s valuable, what’s central and what gets you to where you want to be.’

That, in itself, makes us incredibly valuable – to society as a whole and to those who are close to us.

Be positive about having a purpose in older age

Unlike past generations, who often entered retirement to do no more than hang about in God’s waiting room, today’s retirees have very different prospects. They tend to have the health, energy and resources for another totally fulfilling era – all be it in a very different setting.

There are valued and meaningful roles to play – in the context of family, neighbours, church, and society. Roles that take the wisdom, knowledge and availability only they have.

Should you doubt it, of needs some inspiration, see the AfterWorkNet web pages on New Opportunities.

In a nutshell, ignore the negative stereotype of aging and its insipid ageism – and celebrate the positives that only older age can bring. And live longer in the process.

Have you experienced ageism and how have you responded? Please do share here or on our Facebook Group. We’d love to hear.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.


The epidemic of loneliness needs a Doctor’s prescription. And here it is.

As I’m a doctor, you’d probably expect me to use the word ‘epidemic’ in the context of a raging disease. But not so this time.

There’s an epidemic spoiling lives and even reducing their length with not a virus or a germ in sight. It’s the epidemic of loneliness.

More than that, there’s something we can all do to put this epidemic to flight because it doesn’t need special training or skill. In addition, those in their after-work years are the most able to respond.

The loneliness epidemic can be summed up with three simple statistics. In the UK–

  • Over 9 million people – that’s almost one in five of the population – say they are always or often lonely
  • There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people
  • Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone

Of course, there’s a massive difference between being alone and being lonely. Also, it’s not just an issue for those too old to get out and about.

This came home to me in my surgery a while back when faced with a teenager asking for help with her low mood.

I discovered she had over 1,000 Facebook ‘friends’ yet nearly all her ‘home time’ was spent in her bedroom, on a tablet, keeping up with ‘friends’. When asked if she ever saw any face to face the answer was ‘hardly ever’.

My patient’s problem was loneliness. She was constantly ‘without company’ and felt ‘cut off from others’. My ‘prescription? That she should re-discover her dormant hobby of dancing – which would return her to a supportive community, with a shared interest.

This simple ‘prescription’ set her on the road to recovery – all without the need for counselling or medication.

This one incident throws up lessons important for all of us –

Loneliness does harm.

Recent research shows loneliness has health implications that go far beyond depression. There good evidence loneliness –

  • Contributes to the development of dementia
  • Increases the risk of physical illness to a greater extent than does raised blood pressure
  • Is a risk factor for heart disease and strokes – having the same impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Increases the likelihood of someone dying by more than a quarter

In addition, lonely people visit their GPs more, take more medication, have a higher incidence of falls, and attend A+ E more. For those who are younger the impact on their health tells a similar story.

It is not just an ‘old person’s’ issue

Understandably, loneliness has come to be associated with those towards the end of their days, having lost a life-long spouse and peers, and now being house bound. Of course, this is mostly true.

However, loneliness is increasingly becoming a feature of our society and seen in all seasons of life, from school age, through to old age, and everything in between.

This ought to lead us to keeping our eyes open for loneliness where we would not expect it. As well as seeing the needs among those who are most at risk.

Something can be done

In the case of my young patient, the remedy was to get out there and engage socially. However, for those in later years that’s seldom an option – with the only solution being for caring people to visit.

This leads me to think of the huge benefits in store if more of us took time to seek out those who are lonely and visit from time to time.

This seems to be something that should be right up their street for those who are retired and still active. Be it a regular visit, to a car ride, to a lift to a social setting – including to one of the increasing number of activities being run by churches.

It is something individuals and couples can do. It is something every church should have in its radar and be responding to in a proactive and intentional way.

To explore this further, including for advice on how to become a visitor and befriender, see the AfterWorkNet web pages on The Lonely.

Take the medicine yourself

It seems unlikely that, at this moment, you fit the ‘lonely’ category. But make sure you keep it that way as it is easy to drift into it.

Whatever may happen to you over the coming years, be proactive and engage with others though an old hobby or interest, or by trying a new one. And keep linked, or make links, with a vibrant church and its supportive and loving community.

Richard Roope

Dr Richard Roope has been a GP for almost 30 years at the same Hampshire practice. He’s also the Lead for Cancer for the Royal College of GPs and Cancer Research UK. Married with three daughters – two also doctors – he’s a member of a lively C of E church in Winchester. Enjoying long distance cycling, Richard has just completed a 12-day 760 charity cycle through the length of Italy.

The happiest of all? Those aged 65 to 79. Here’s the surprising facts – and how to be even happier.

If you are between 65 and 79 then the words of the late Ken Dodd hit the nail on the head –

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
I thank the Lord that I’ve been blessed
With more than my share of happiness

Why? Because, as someone in that 65 to 79 age bracket, you truly do have more than your share of happiness. Its official – confirmed by a robust study from the Office for National Statistics.

The survey assed happiness for a sample of 300,000 people between 2012 and 2015, under four headings –

  • How satisfied they were with life
  • How worthwhile they felt their lives to be
  • How happy they felt
  • How anxious they were

Revealingly, in every one of these categories, the 65’s to 79s are streets ahead of every other age group with one very, very, small exception. This is what the research tells us –

Life satisfaction: This peaks between 65 and 79 with them being 400 per cent more satisfied with life than those in their mid-50s. The only other age group to match this – which is the very small exception – is those in their carefree teenage years. So there’s every reason for ‘oldies’ to be young at heart.

Life being worthwhile: It’s the same story here – with the 65s to 79s being almost a fifth more likely to feel life is worthwhile than those struggling through their mid-50s.

However – to flash a warning – the ‘life is worthwhile’ feeling nosedives for those 90 and older. Yet, even then, those 90+ reported greater life satisfaction and happiness than those in their middle years.

Life being happy: Once again it’s much the story. Those 65 to 79 see themselves as 300 per cent more happy than the miserable mid-50s.

Life creating anxiety: On this front too, the 65s to 69s feel half as anxious as those in their mid-50s.

Taking it all together, the average ratings for life satisfaction, a sense your life is worthwhile, and how happy you are, skyrockets in the 65 to 79 years. Of course, this is not true for everyone. That’s not how surveys work. But it is generally true of the UK population as a whole.

And there’s more. When the research was broken down in more detail, some interesting things popped up including –

  • Married people had the highest levels of happiness – higher than those co-habiting, single, widowed or divorced.
  • Those with jobs were happier – with part-time workers the happiest.
  • Northern Ireland was the happiest of the UK’s nations. But the most anxious and least happy people were in England, with the North East the unhappiest region.

So if you are between 65 and 79, married, with a part time job and living in Northern Ireland you must be an absolute bundle of fun.

But perhaps there’s a way for the rest of us to catch up. Because it’s possible to make ourselves happier. That’s according to global studies collated by Rotterdam’s World Happiness Database.

These studies show the strongest correlation with happiness is to lead an active life. As the project’s director Prof Ruut Veenhoven says, ‘In order to lead a happy life, a rewarding life, you need to be active.’

The project has also identified what is likely to be true of those who are happier than others. This reveals you tend to be happier if you –

  • Are in a long-term relationship
  • Are actively engaged in politics
  • Are active in work and in your free time
  • Go out for dinner
  • Have close friendships – though happiness doesn’t increase with the number you have
  • Are not too fixed on having goals

So if you are in the 65 to 79 bracket, be happy that you are happier than most. Be thankful for what is also true that can add to it. And think seriously about giving it a turbo boost by keeping active, building friendships and increasing your social relationships.

Oh, and raise a glass or two in memory of Ken Dodd who seems to have known some of this all along.

Looking to boost your happiness by being more active? See the AfterWorkNet web pages on New Opportunities and our blog on keeping active.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Getting older is not to be laughed at. It’s time to fight back at the prejudice involved.

How did I miss it? How did I get sucked in to happily regard those growing older as the subject for mirth at their expense?

After all, I joined the rush to end racist and sexist stereotypes. Off limits now are blonds, the Irish, mothers in law and more. Yet meanwhile it’s still fine for those in their later years to be mocked for being so.

Lines like ‘Jim was so old he’d signed up to Twitter to leave short, grumpy messages for people he didn’t like’. Funny on the surface. But all part of creating a negative image of those who are older.

But being the target for humour is a small part of a much bigger picture. It’s far from the only way those of advancing years are marginalised or demeaned.

Pointing to the constant stream of ageist advertising and workplace attitudes, author Marc Middleton, a champion of the US Growing Bolder movement says, ‘We have been programmed to believe that, beyond a certain age and by design, we lose strength, power, intellect and passion. But none of these things have nothing to do with age.’

Does this ageism matter? Oh yes! There are two distinct ways in which all this is ‘not funny’. Not funny at all.

First, ageism shapes the way society values – or not – those who are older.

My wake up call to this serious issue came from author Louise Morse in her important new book, What’s Age Got To Do With It (BRF). Here Louise does more than identify the evil of discrimination simply because someone is old. She also champions the need to restore and champion ‘elder hood’.

Elderhood, Louise explains, is one step up from adulthood. It is a season richer, more meaningful and with something distinct and positive to contribute. A time of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.

More than that, Louise challenges us to see the richness of God’s plan for those in their later years. As she puts it, ‘God has created a human lifecycle that the longer people live the more they learn and the more wisdom they gather. Living to old age creates the qualities that God intends to benefit the rest of society.’

Yet that’s not how we, the ‘older ones’, are seen or treated – with ageist ‘humour’ contributing to the misconception. And with prejudice and discrimination fanning the flames.

Second, ageism reduces our own view as to our value and ability to contribute.

Whatever our age, what we believe about ourselves impacts what we will do and achieve. If the noise in our ears keeps telling us we are ‘beyond it’, need to be ‘put out to pasture’, are over the ‘hill then’, and ‘past our ‘sell by date’ then that’s how we are most likely to behave.

We start to settle for the slippers, blanket, fireside and Werther’s Originals despite there being much more life to be lived.

When it comes to apportioning blame for the way things are, we need to take it on the chin. That’s because we have colluded in letting insipid ageism run rampant. We’ve bought the greetings cards, laughed at the jokes, sat on our hands, and held our tongues when we should have done none of those things.

What should we do?

Here are the top three ways I want to try to live by from now on and which I recommend to you –

Stand tall and refuse to believe the lie: Think how much more you know, how much more wisdom you have gathered and how your character has matured, since you were half your present age.

And, therefore, think how much more of those vital commodities – knowledge, wisdom and maturity – you have than those half you age at this very moment.

Added to this, take note of what you are contributing. To quote Louise again, those like you are ‘helping support their adult children, contributing to their communities and boosting the national Exchequer by billions of pounds each year. And many charities would collapse without their voluntary work – itself worth billions a year.’

So as you move from adulthood to elderhood, make a commitment to do so with a mind-set that says, ‘I’ve much to offer and they are lucky to have me!’

Refuse to play by ‘their’ rules: That means no longer laughing at jokes made at the expense of those in their later years – or, at least, trying hard not to. And no longer sending your peers birthday cards with negative messages like ‘I’m not saying you are old but you are starting to smell of wee’ – no matter how funny.

Even better, be subversive – launch a range of greetings cards with positive messages about the glory and value of the later years. If ever there was a gap in the market, this is a big one.

Speak out: It’s not easy to confront the unthinking words of others. But a quiet word in season may be called for. Those made in God’s image, and for whom he has plans, deserve to be defended.

Easier is to respond to media gatekeepers – praising examples of the positive portrayal of those who are older. And identifying when the opposite happens.

And in case you should think this is all rather trivial, from someone with a shallow sense of humour who needs to get a life, please think again. The widespread and sinister practice of ageism damages the health and wellbeing of older people. This can be seen in the way –

  • Age is increasingly becoming the deciding factor as to whether cancer treatment is worth the money.
  • The UN has encouraged nations to prioritise health care in favour of the young.
  • Ageism has been shown to cause cardiovascular stress, lowered levels of self-efficacy and decreased productivity.
  • Research shows older adults with a negative attitude about ageing may live 7.5 years less than those with a positive attitude.

This is why growing older is not to be laughed at. And why it’s time to fight back.

If this issue seems important to you, please share this blog by using the links below.

Louise Morse’s book can be bought through sellers like Amazon and Eden or use this link.

Have you seen ageism, or been on the receiving end? Do you have ways of responding, or other suggestions? Please do share them here or on our Facebook group.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Four reasons why today’s retirees may live longer. And four great ways to respond.

Have you’ve reached your ‘after-work’ years, or are heading towards them? Then you have something to especially celebrate.

More than any previous generation you are likely to be healthier, fitter, and have more years of life ahead of you.

Who or what do we thank for this? I suggest you should give a big hand to the top 4 –

  1. Medical science: The latest drugs and surgical procedures mean far more conditions – chronic and otherwise – can be managed or treated. Meanwhile, new approaches to heart disease have lengthened lives and improved their quality.
  2. Workplace changes: Changing employment patterns have brought less manual work – with its toll on bodies and health – longer holidays and better working conditions. Health and safety legislation, although it can be a pain sometimes, has also played its part.
  3. Health education: Campaigns flagging ‘low fat’, ‘watch your cholesterol’ and ‘eat five a day’, ‘take some exercise’, have been streaming at us for a decade or more. And have made an impact.
  4. Wiser living: We now know that smoking doesn’t promote health and a belly-buster fry up is not necessarily the best way to start the day.

To get a bigger picture of why you may enjoy a longer and healthier life see the AfterWorkNet web page here.

Making the most of it

These four reasons show why your life in retirement is likely to offer far more than it did for our parents’ generation. Not always or for everyone. But more likely.

So what are the opportunities this opens up? A few extra years of self-centred indulgence? Or something more fulfilling.

Here are what I think are four great ways to respond –

  1. Enjoy without guilt: This new season ought to be enjoyed and not endured. However, for the spiritually inclined, it can be that ‘guilty pleasure’ and ‘simple common or garden pleasure’ are one and the same thing.

    Is it really okay to have this much enjoyment when it doesn’t involve something overtly God-centred? Thoughts like this, rumbling deep down in someone’s subconscious, can rob them of the riches on offer.

    Which is why we need to relish St Paul’s words to the young Timothy, about the need to put our hope in God who ‘richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment’. (1 Timothy 6:17).

    Fun, relaxation and pleasure are all part of the riches of God’s creation – to be embraced without guilt. So enjoy.
  2. Pace yourself: For those who can enter their retirement years with a soft and gradual landing this might not be so much of an issue. But there’s an extra challenge for those who reach their after-work moment in the same way a train can hit the crash barriers.

    For them it may be wise to see this new season as a series of mini-seasons. These could include an initial breather to enjoy the change. Then a period to ease into the new era. Next a ‘go for it’ season, to make the most of the time and health at hand. Then the slowing down as ‘young old’ becomes ‘old old’.
  3. Make a plan: These are precious years that deserve some thought as to what they can deliver and with a plan to make it so. And one of the great dangers of moving into an unstructured and ‘every day is a Saturday’ era is time can just slip by.

    Setting priorities, and defining what is hoped to be experienced and achieved, may not be the first thing to do. But it ought to be done at some point after settling in to life after work.

    No two plans will be the same. No two bucket lists will be identical. But do make sure you have yours – with some things you’d like to look back on in a few years’ time with gratitude and satisfaction.
  4. Explore opportunities: Unlike past generations, there’s the opportunity try new things, develop new interests and skills, and have new experiences. These can be for your own enrichment or for the good of others. Or, ideally, both.

    To explore 10 interesting and varied options, see the AfterWorkNet web page New Challenges.
  5. Keep God’s kingdom in focus: As the curtain goes up, and you become an ‘actor’ in the great drama of retirement, the prompters words from the wings are likely to be ‘this is your time now’, and ‘you are worth it’.

    But there’s a need to be listening to another voice. The one that we hope will one day say ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’.

    There may be a host of factors – medical and otherwise – that have ushered in a longer and heathier life. But ultimately, every year – indeed, every breath – is a gift from the God who made us and loves us.

    Whatever your plans, don’t miss the opportunity to line them up with being an answer to that prayer you so often pray, ‘Your kingdom come’.

    To explore what that means, explore the AfterWorkNet web pages under Serving.

Peter Meadows

What do you do for fun? Share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Next year is like a new country – and these 5 wise ‘travel tips’ are not to be missed.

Going into a new year is a lot like taking a journey to another country. In both cases you don’t know exactly what’s ahead. And there are some wise things to keep in mind to make the very best of it.

So, as you voyage into 2019, here are 5 rather obvious ‘travel tips’ to make the journey as worthwhile as possible.

1.Be realistic about it.

When it comes to holidays, the brochures tend to make it all look far better than the real thing. After all, that’s their job. But we too can wrongly imagine the land of New Year will be significantly different to the one that’s gone before.

In reality, nothing magical happens when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. There’s no Cinderella in reverse to be experienced. And this is one of the hard truths to learn about travel. That, wherever we go, we take ourselves with us.

If we’re tetchy, ungrateful, easily irritated, and self-centred, that side of us will still be with us as we journey on. A new country won’t fix it and nor will a New Year. Which means the need to take a realistic account of who we are and what we are like – and doing something about it.

2.Check your baggage weight.

I hate that awful moment at airports when the unsmiling check-in person tells me with unwelcome glee that I’m a little overweight. Sure, it’s a relief when I realise this is not personal and is about my luggage.

But what excess baggage might you be taking into the year ahead? Bitterness, hatred, shame, regret, jealousy? Or some other unhelpful emotions that will way us down when we are across the border of 2019?

These are the weights to leave behind – by forgiving others, forgiving yourself, by recognising that God loves us for who we are.

3.Choose the right travel companions.

There’s nothing worse than discovering that someone who’s great for an occasional coffee is a nightmare as a full-on travel companion. So who would we best have at our side in the New Year journey?

Will they enrich your life – and give you opportunities to enrich theirs? Will they speak the kind of truth you need to hear and be open for you to do the same for them? Will their positive outlook spur you on or their negativity drag you down?

Or think of it this way, who are those you can invest time in, celebrate with, and express love and appreciation for? And how can you make sure they are traveling with you and you with them.

4.Check your destination.

There’s the classic story of the airline passenger who ended up in Istanbul when they had bought a ticket to Torquay. (Think about it!) You’ll only have one opportunity to explore 2019 so make sure you get have a ticket for the right destination.

This is where having a few simple but clear goals come in. Not overwhelming ones that, in your heart of hearts, you know you’ll flunk in the first few weeks. But a fresh commitment or two on how to make the most of one more precious year in your afterwork stage of life.

For a little inspiration, here are three possible areas to explore –

Your new possibilities

Your health and fitness

Your service to others

5.Pack wisely.

To be honest, what you take with you may be the least of your worries. That’s because, over the years, you’ve accumulated a storehouse of knowledge, skills, know-how, experience and wisdom. As they say, ‘It’s in the bag’.

In which case, having packed it, don’t keep it all to yourself. You can make the coming year more rewarding for you and others by making sure what you’ve packed is put to good use.

Ahead is a new land waiting to be enjoyed, explored and enriched. Bon voyage.

Jeff Lucas

Jeff is still some way from his afterwork years. His passion is to equip the Church with practical bible teaching, marked by vulnerability and humour. And he does so as an international author, speaker and broadcaster. Check him out at Jeff Lucas.

Think the personal pain from abortion is nothing to do with you? Think again.

One in 3 UK women will have had an abortion by the time they are 45 – experiencing the emotional impact that can go with it. But why should this concern those in their after-work years? After all, doesn’t abortion mainly impact those much younger?

If that’s in your mind, please think again.

The 1967 Abortion Act is now 50 years old. This means many now in their later years will have made this choice – and some will be in our churches, possibly including your church. And they may well still be carrying a deep sense of guilt, failure, grief.

Even worse, due to a fear of rejection and being judged, they may never have felt able to tell anyone and so receive the loving care they need.

It’s because of this I have a longing for every church. It’s that they should be where those who’ve faced an abortion or other baby loss, can receive grace and compassionate understanding.

This is why OPEN exists, as an initiative of CARE. It’s also why your own prayerful wisdom could have such a part to play.

Is the post-abortion experience something to mention in church?

Over the years, Christians have spoken out to protect unborn human life and challenge efforts to make abortion law ever more liberal. But this doesn’t mean we should not whole-heartedly support women who’ve had abortions.

Keeping the two in balance is not easy. But, for Christians, both baby and mother matter.

In our churches, some may have come to terms with their abortion experience. They have no need or desire to open up about it. But there may well be others still feeling deeply affected, and who resist being open for fear of the reaction of others.

This means they’re left dealing with the hurt and pain on their own. This can also be the painful experience of women who’ve had a miscarriage or still birth.

I know this to be true.

Almost without fail, when I’m speaking for OPEN in churches, people confide in me of experiences which often have taken place years before. And they tell me how they’ve never spoken about their abortions, especially not in the setting of their church – and how the pain was still very real.

I’ve learned that being open, non-judgemental, and truly caring can have an amazing and transforming impact on those living with the experience of abortion.

For example I think of the woman who said she was ‘free’ for the first time in 30 years. For all that time she’d carried silent grief and pain, and a sense of unworthiness. This burden was lifted when she heard God understood this grief, and he forgives.

Here’s what you can do

With some extra time on your hands and years of wisdom at your disposal, here’s 6 simple but valuable things you can do to support those who have experienced abortion.

  1. Be aware: Start with an understanding that there may well be those in your circle of friends and contacts who are carrying pain from a past experience of either abortion or miscarriage.
  2. Be open: Sensitively include this reality in conversations or in the context of preaching and teaching.
  3. Be alert: Look for signals and be open to caring and affirming conversations with those who might find it helpful.
  4. Be praying: Pray for good conversations with those for whom this might be an issue.
  5. Be proactive: Get the issue on the agenda of your church by having a speaker share how a compassionate response can be made in your church and community.
  6. Be practical: One of the most helpful things you can do is recommend one of the OPEN Healing Retreats.

To learn more, do visit the We Are Open website. It’s a rich resource for you and your church. Or email me at

Jenny Baines

Jenny’s background as the mother of a large family, her own miscarriages and being a Pastor’s wife, drew her to respond to the needs of those impacted by pregnancy loss. She’s now a consultant for OPEN, an initiative of CARE, helping churches create an environment where these sensitive issues can be shared with grace and compassionate understanding.

Increase your health, energy and lifespan with Rosemary Conley’s ‘Three wisdoms’ for keeping fit.

We all have the opportunity to keep fit or to risk heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Recent research also identifies good health as one way to help prevent dementia.

Unquestionably, keeping fit can add years to our lives and help us enjoy living to the full.

That’s why my ‘three wisdoms for keeping fit’ are so worth taking on board. And here they come.

Wisdom One: Eat healthily

I believe there’s more to watching what you eat than keeping your weight under control. A healthy diet also promotes good health.

  • Try to reduce the artery-clogging impact of cholesterol with a diet low in fat and try to include more fibre–rich foods such as fruit and vegetables, porridge oats, lentils, beans and nuts. But go easy on the nuts if you’re trying to lose weight!
  • Studies show a Mediterranean diet, rich in green leafy vegetables, oily fish and the occasional glass of red wine, can lower our chances of developing dementia by up to 40 per cent.

Wisdom Two: Strengthen your bones

Bones are a living organ and from around age 40 our bone mass gradually reduces unless we work hard to strengthen it. If we don’t, this can lead to osteoporosis – when our bones lose their density and when they can break more easily. The good news is we can do a lot to strengthening our bones and consequently protect our health.

For example –

  • Weight bearing exercise like brisk walking, jogging, dancing and aerobics, skipping or jumping on a small trampoline can significantly help boost our bone strength. However, if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is best to avoid activities where both feet are off the ground at the same time. To strengthen your bones it is really helpful to exercise with light weights or a latex resistance band.
  • Exercise like swimming, cycling and rowing can reduce our levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and increases our ‘good’ cholesterol.
  • Calcium and vitamins D and K are important for bone health. Calcium is found in dairy products and the level does not reduce in low fat versions. Try to consume 450ml (3/4 pint) of milk every day. Green leafy vegetables and canned fish, particularly sardines are also rich sources of calcium. Try to eat one or two portions of oily fish each week for heart health too. For lots more on healthy eating ideas see my Stay Young Diet – that has lots of healthy recipes.

Dealing with joints

When we’re younger, our joints move easily because the synovial fluid that ‘oils’ them is plentiful. With age, that fluid can lessen and joint movement may become more difficult. In some cases the degeneration of the cartilage between joints can lead to significant pain when bone rubs against bone.

So, what can we do to help prevent this happening?

Lose weight – excess pounds puts enormous strain on joints.

Exercise – Regular exercise can significantly strengthen our muscles and ligaments which hold our skeleton together. The gym, a fitness class, exercising to a fitness DVD or playing sport will all help maintain muscle strength and keep bones and joints fitter and stronger for longer.

Eat wisely:  Choosing a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and K for the benefit of our joints and bones can make a big difference to our overall healt. Also, try to make sure you spend time in the sunshine to boost your vitamin D consumption.

Omega 3 oils can help if you suffer from inflammation in the joints – eat foods rich in them or take a supplement. Litozin is the latest in nutritional supplements to help joints.

You can find more in-depth ideas and advice on my web pages for AfterWorkNet at Health and Fitness – do pay me a visit.

Rosemary Conley CBE DL

What tip experience do you have to share on keeping healthy and fit? Please comment here or on our Facebook community

Rosemary Conley CBE DL

Rosemary has helped tens of thousands to achieve and maintain a healthy life, through her diet and exercise programmes. At 65, she took up skating for ITV’s ‘Dancing on Ice’ and still skates 7 years later.

Me, my mobile and God. Ten (suggested) Commandments for using a mobile

They say our smartphones are more powerful than the massive NASA computers that sent Apollo missions to the moon in the 1970’s.  In the UK, 85 per cent of us use our mobiles daily and some find it hard to resist regularly checking them – apparently every twelve minutes on average  – to text a message, catch up on FaceBook, play music or ask Siri or Alexa for help. Nothing wrong with any of it but let’s keep technology in its place. Particularly as we consider the habits of our children and grandchildren.

Here’s a very practical place to start that thinking! And food for thought for families we know

Ten (suggested) Commandments for using a mobile

  1. Never at a shared meal table. Including breakfast!
  2. Never sneak – under the table; in the loo…
  3. Make sure your privacy settings, especially on Facebook, protect you. It’s incredible how much information about you is out there. It could easily be exploited.
  4. Be secure and take passwords seriously. That means thinking about the process. Try Googling ‘how to set strong passwords’ and note them safely.
  5. Adults need to monitor teenagers’ mobile and other screen use. For those in our care, have a policy on where, when and for what they use their devices. Stick to it. (Katherine Hill’s book ‘Left to their own devices’ published by Care for the Family is excellent on this)
  6. Small children’s use of devices and online experience is in our hands. Parents and others looking after them need to how to limit their use appropriately.
  7. Wherever you find yourself – home, work, church – if you can, speak to someone face-to-face rather than text or call.
  8. Don’t allow your devices to interfere with your concentration. When you have work to do, fun to enjoy, people to spend time with, turn them off and put them out of sight.
  9. Never use when driving. Even on hands-free it’s very easy to be distracted. Silence it – like you do in church – and leave it screen down, in the glove compartment, or on the back seat. And if you need to use your phone, pull off the road safely and stop to do it.
  10. Try taking a mobile-free Sabbath. Perhaps on Sunday, dawn till dusk. Let others know so they don’t get worried because you don’t respond, and enjoy the experience!

How many of these do you agree with? Perhaps you would add to them. We’d love to know!

Do let us know what you think, and visit  AfterWorkNet’s Facebook page to see what others are saying.

If you would like to read in deep you can find Nigel Cameron book here

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

Sex in your 70’s – really? Perhaps, with these 6 things in mind.

Even if we’ve hit a certain age and stage in life, sexual intimacy can still happen for many married couples. It need not be just be something to look back on with a nostalgic smile.

If that sounds like a challenge or even offers some hope, here are six encouragements about having a fulfilling sex life into our seventies… and beyond!

1.It doesn’t have to be like it was.

A woman asked her husband to come upstairs and make love. With a sigh, he replied, ‘Darling these days I can do one or the other, not both!’

Now you’re no longer in the fresh flush of youth and sexual intimacy, think about focusing on gentle affection rather than passion and incredible physical and emotional experience. Romantic words, touching, kissing, and other intimate contact can be fulfilling and rewarding.

2.Physical affection is good for your health

Apparently, an active sex life can increase life expectancy. It’s good exercise, releases endorphins and reduces anxiety. If it involves emotional wellbeing and closeness that’s good too. Touch is very important to our sense of wellbeing and hugs make us all feel better.

3.If one of you used to be keener on sex than the other, have the courage to gently raise this issue

It’s not unusual – perhaps for women more than men – to quite honestly feel relieved if their spouse is winding down on wanting to make love, for one reason or another. But sex in later life could be a whole new departure, maybe less focused on needs and more about appreciation and enjoyment of each other’s love.

4.It’s OK if parts of you no longer work as well as they used to. Enjoying sexual intimacy doesn’t have to include intercourse

Feelings of inadequacy and not believing we’re sexy any more should be thought through and openly shared – with as much humour as possible.  Aging means our bodies change in many ways – both men and women may find physical intimacy and climax a challenge.  Talk about it!

There may be remedies to discomfort and disfunction. Or alternative ways to express your physical love to one another.

5.Making love well ideally starts way before you get to the bedroom

Two songs from the past: The Beatles ‘Will you still need me when I’m 64?’ They thought 64 was impossibly old in those days! And ‘You don’t bring me flowers any more’. Why not? It is such a sure way of making your wife feel good and there are plenty of male equivalents too, if your husband’s not that bothered about flowers. And there will are so many expressions of affection and tenderness whether its simply holding handsor some other gesture to make the one we love feel cherished.

6.There’s loads of confidential, understanding help out there if you need it.

The good news is that there’s ample help available for both men and women who have issues about sexual activity, physical or emotional . Google is often the first resort.

A good GP also knows what can be done about a whole range of difficulties; illness, disability, the effect of medicines, too much alcohol, anxiety over ‘performance’, surgery, low self-esteem and concerns about body image. But the first step is an honest acceptance of need and some equally honest conversations with each other.

In a nutshell

The key to resolving or at least finding a level of intimacy you can both live with is to talk about it – first with each other and if necessary with a qualified counsellor. It can be a difficult subject to broach, even after many years of marriage. But it is nothing like as difficult as living with an increasing sense of distance and even resentment.

Be kind – if things are not the way one of you would like, remember that ‘for better for worse’ line. A little understanding and TLC can go a long way.

Get help if there is a problem in this area. Sex is an important part of marriage and we need to try to understand how our partner is feeling. And there are many couples who have rediscovered a sexual relationship that they assumed was gone forever.

And perhaps the best bit of advice is something that’s relevant whatever age we are and however long we have been married. It is that that love-making starts with expressions of affection a long way from the bedroom.

For more on marriage in your active years of retirement do see AfterWorkNet’s webpages on the subject. Just go here.

Dianne Parsons – Care for the Family

Dianne has been an integral part of Care for the Family’s ministry over many years, alongside husband Rob, and speaking and writing with great empathy for women about marriage and family life.

Do you have something to share on this sensitive subject? Do share it here.


It’s time to capture your memories – for you and for others. Here’s 7 great ways to do it.

One thing every retired person has is memories – lots of them. And they are a precious resource to be treasured and passed on.

As David Winter says in his book The Highway Code to Retirement, ‘Without leaving your armchair you can travel back through time, to childhood and schooldays. You can recall old friends and glorious holidays. Relive the excitement of your first love, the amazing miracle of the birth of children, fulfilling spiritual experienced, happy times with loved ones.’

David adds, ‘Sitting there you can capture afresh the laughter of children, the tears of parting, weddings, baptisms, parties, and special moments. And so much more.’

But such memories are not just precious to us, they are important to others too – especially our children and, perhaps even more to our grandchildren. There will be a time when they want to know more about their own past which is, of course, wrapped up in ours.

And part of the privilege of retirement is having the time that’s needed to record all this for others. And it’s not hard.

More than that, if it’s a collaborative process – especially if you have grandkids old enough to be involved – this can be a very enriching project.

So here are some things you could do –

1.Scrapbooks and albums.

 This may be the simplest way forward. Without doubt you’ll have a bunch of old photographs gathering dust. But what about adding copies of birth and marriage certificates, old passports, school records, your Blue Peter badge and anything else you can get your hands on?

Any hobby shop will have what you need to put this all into a collection.

However, be aware that physical photos can fade over time. And there will be only one copy for others to fight over when you are gone.

2.Put it on your computer.

It may be more of a challenge and take longer to put everything into a computer file – with all the scanning and such. But it will mean everyone can share in what you create, at any time, wherever they may be in the world, and for generations to come.

Your old photographs or videos are probably not in the format you need. But slides can be copied digitally if you buy (new, probably £50 to £75) or borrow a slide copier. And those old Super 8 videos can be made into computer files. To find out how, just Google ‘super 8 conversion to digital’.

If this all sounds like a step too far and way beyond your skill-set, here’s a great opportunity to ask grandchildren for help. They are likely to easily take the process in their stride.

3.Record your story.

Sit in front of a microphone and record your memories. A way to involve your children and grandchildren is to have them ask you the questions about the past they’d like to know about.

Or work through a check list like this one –

  • Where you were born
  • What you remember of your parents and grandparents
  • Your first school and what you were good at
  • Your first house, how it was heated, what your bedroom was like
  • Your hobbies when you were young
  • Your parents and relations
  • Your first friends
  • When you were most afraid
  • Your proudest achievement
  • How you met your partner
  • Your first job
  • Your faith journey
  • What’s been important to you
  • What you wish you’d known sooner
  • One piece of advice you would pass on

4.Write an autobiography.

It doesn’t have to get published but it will be a great activity for you and a treasure for those following in your footsteps. Google ‘how to write an autobiography’ and you’ll be surprised how much excellent help is out there for you.

5.Create a blog.

This may seem complex but it’s no more than a journal on the internet that others can access. You’ll find examples at

6.Research and document your family tree.

There are ‘how to do it’ guides that Google can point you to which will show how to access census records and more. There are also ‘you pay for it’ resources like or free sites like

7.Dig deeper through your DNA.

For a reasonable price you can send a swab from your mouth and have your ancestors revealed as to which part of the world they came from and be matched with distant relatives alive today.

A final word – be sure to save your memories while you still have them. They are a precious resource for you and those who will one day be as old as you are. And they will thank you for it.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance. His DNA ancestor test was very surprising.

Have you an insight on recording your memories of family history? Please share them here or with our Facebook group.

So what’s wrong with acting your age?

We almost certainly said it to our children – maybe not always helpfully, ‘Act your age’ perhaps adding ‘not your shoe size!’ But at times I feel the need to give a similar message to some active retired people.

In my days in youth ministry, it was sad when my 50-year-old colleagues were dressing like teenagers. They may have felt they looked cool but the reality was they looked more than slightly strange.

In much the same way, I now meet those in their 70s who claim they are far too young to rock up to anything for designed for retired people or even to hang out with them.

True, age can be as much to do with your attitude and state of mind as it is the level of your body’s decay. But, it seems to me, there are those who cannot bear to be designated ‘old’.

My message is ‘face up to reality and embrace the age you are. Put your birth certificate above your mantelpiece and reflect what it says in your choices and attitude’.

God brought me into the world in 1943 – definitely a vintage year! Where’s the problem with living with that reality? This is who I am – how God made me and the best thing I can do is to serve Him as I am, not how I wish or imagine myself to be.

For our parents’ generation retirement meant resting after years of working. But now people are asking what to do with their lives. Their answer is sometimes limited to golf, short tennis, walking football, line dancing or Saga cruises.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those. It’s great that the retired and active have the health and income to engage in a great variety of activities for many more years than those retiring in the past. Bit this means there’ll be a peer group around to share their lives for the next few decades, including sharing the relevance of Jesus.

In which case, as the old fashioned Wayside Pulpit asks, ‘What on earth are you doing for heaven’s sake?’ Act your age – join up with your fellow retirees and do something that grows God’s kingdom. What is wrong with being 74 and hanging out with other 74 year olds?

Those who are retired and active are one of a church’s greatest resources. But that’s only true if they make themselves available – as those committed to being part of God’s plan for themselves and for others.

We really can’t say ‘I’ve done my bit’. Retirement – what’s been called ‘my time to be selfish’ is a social construct not a biblical norm. No! Let’s accept the challenge ahead – rejoicing in the opportunities.

This is no time to sit in an armchair wishing you were young again but it is your moment to ask God to shape your new world as you work with others in your church and community.

When I watch cricket I get itchy fingers, wishing I was on the field again. I can still hit a ball but the challenge of a quick single over 18 yards is beyond me. But that’s no reason to retire from activity completely. So I’ve turned to golf and am enjoying accepting my limitations and re-adjusting my expectations. I hope you’re doing something of the same – by joining in with the glorious band of your fellow retirees and serving God together.

So if you are up for acting your age and need some ideas there’s a huge amount of ideas and resources waiting for you on our website at here.

Dave Fenton:

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

Do you have a ‘now I’m acting my age story’ to share? Then please do so in response to this blog or on our Facebook page.

It’s an epidemic it would not cost a penny to solve – loneliness. And you could be the medicine.

I’ve blogged before about the ‘Elinor Rigby’ epidemic of loneliness that’s doing such damage today. It’s the cause of millions of mostly elderly people being deprived of human contact for days on end – leading to poor health, depression and shortened lives.

In the past I’ve focused on the opportunity for churches to respond. But churches are made up of individuals – like you – who could do so much to bring joy and warmth to someone who is lonely.

Who are those in need?

Official UK figures say some 9 million people are lonely. This includes –

  • About half a million people are often going for more than a week without seeing anybody.
  • About 200,000 older people have not spoken to a friend or relative in more than a month.
  • Many of those receiving regular visits from care workers get no more than 15 minutes of their time – with a survey showing 500,000 pensioners received visits so brief that staff didn’t even speak to them.

All it takes is a little of your time

This epidemic would not cost a penny to solve. It just needs the time of those who care – even just an hour a week.

The need is for troops on the ground. Those who care enough and with time enough to each play a part. And those no longer in fulltime employment have a God-given opportunity to step up.

If every ‘retired and active’ person found just one lonely person to visit, the love of Christ could be shared with many who are feeling that life has lost a lot of its meaning.

How to get started? Here are 5 simple ways –

  1. Seek out a lonely person in your street or nearby
  2. Talk to your church leaders about elderly church members in need of visitors
  3. Contact nearby retirement homes, asking if there are those who seldom have visitors
  4. Check with your local services to see what needs you could meet
  5. Contact agencies like Age Concern and offer to visit those known to them

Simple ways to get it right

To make the most of your time that will mean so much to a lonely person here are things to keep in mind –

  • Relationships take time to develop trust and openness. So don’t be surprised if your Initial approaches may be tense and difficult.
  • The person you are visiting may be depressed as this can result from a lack of human contact.
  • No two elderly people are the same. Some may find conversation difficult. Others could talk for England.
  • If they are expecting a visit, make sure you turn up.
  • Get them to tell their story.
  • Don’t expect them to remember every detail of your last conversation – or even your name.
  • Take your grandchildren with you. A recent TV documentary revealed the benefit of elderly people being with children regularly.
  • Be careful about what you offer. An occasional cake is fine but don’t be over-lavish and so create wrong expectations.

There’s something in it for you too 

Our faith is built on relationship to God – and also on relationships with others. It’s easy for our circle to become closed – the faithful who gather with us every Sunday.

Here’s the opportunity to open it out – and be enriched yourself in the process.

For an overview of the loneliness issue please see our web page on The Lonely.

David Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

Do you have an experience about visiting someone who is lonely? Do share it here or on our Facebook group.

The inside story: How our body changes with age – and how to fight back.

Retirement isn’t the only thing that happens when you reach a certain age. Our body also undergoes some interesting – and not always helpful – changes too.

And, as these changes impact our health and the length of time we’ll live, they are not to be ignored.

First the bad news!

As we age our skin gets looser and drier, muscles become smaller and weaker, the speed at which our body burns calories slows down so we more easily gain weight, hearing may fade, and eyesight becomes less sharp.

On top of that, memory might fail us in a variety of ways. And sleep can become more elusive.

This natural process can’t really be avoided, but there are ways to slow it down if we make lifestyle changes and adopt healthy habits. Even if we should have taken action sooner, it’s never too late to begin.

Here are three ways to keep the impact of aging at bay and so make the most of your after-work years.

1. Fighting back through exercise

When we were younger we were more physically active, even without thinking about it. Just keeping life and a family going gave your muscles a great workout without going near a gym. If we played sport, even better.

However, age has changed all that. We are now less likely to have reasons to be physically active and maybe less able to be sporty.

What can we do?

 Getting fitter through a regular activity – ideally one we enjoy – is the most effective, youth-giving, medicine we could ever have.

Even just 15 to 20 minutes of activity each day helps stave off a multitude of health conditions as well as aches and pains, gives us more energy and makes our body and mind more efficient. And it will do wonder for our heart, the engine room of our body.

There are so many ways to exercise: walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, dancing, fitness videos and classes. Many offer clubs especially for those no longer in the flush of youth and working out with others is proven to be good for us mentally.

Even choosing to walk and not ride, and use stairs instead of the escalator or lift, can play its part. Every little helps!

2. Fighting back through weight loss:

We may not be eating very differently in our retirement but our body now burns fewer calories and we are moving about less. That’s why putting on pounds is almost inevitable unless we take action.

Indeed, right now you may be walking around carrying extra weight that’s the equivalent to a holiday suitcase. Lose it and you’ll feel years younger very quickly. You’ll also be healthier by taking pressure off your joints and vital organs – especially your heart.

What can you do?

There’s no shortage of weight-loss plans out there. Find a method that suits you as an individual but go for one from a reputable source – nothing gimmicky – and stick to it.

Why not have a look at my The Stay Young Diet created especially for those beyond middle-age. Check it out on the AfterWorkNet website at The Stay Young Diet.

This eating plan is distinctive because of the foods it’s based on – those rich in antioxidants which is key to fighting the ageing process. Antioxidants are found in those fruit and vegetables that are bright in colour and are bursting with life-enhancing vitamins and minerals.

3. Fighting back by being accountable

There’s evidence to show those setting out to make lifestyle changes do better if someone else is watching out for them in some way.

That’s a major key to the effectiveness of weight loss clubs – someone else will know how it is going. The thought of applause at weigh-in spurs you on. The reality of falling short is an encouragement not to say ‘just one more’!

Being accountable doesn’t have to involve joining in with others. One way is just to tell one or more of those closest to you what you are going for.

Even better is also to have a fitness or dieting buddy. Someone who’s as committed as you are to living healthier and longer.

Go for it.

Rosemary Conley CBE

Rosemary has helped tens of thousands to achieve and maintain a healthy life, through her diet and exercise programmes. At 65, she took up skating for ITV’s ‘Dancing on Ice’ and still skates 6 years later.

Have you found an approach to health and fitness that works for you? Do share it by commenting on this blot or by joining our Facebook group

Want to live longer? Then go to church. Here’s the facts.

Regular churchgoers tend to live longer. That’s what a deluge of recent research reveals.

So, if you are likely to be in church on a Sunday, expect to be attending more funerals than your non-churchgoing friends. Because, on average, you could outlive them by several years.

This is what research is telling us. And though it’s mainly from the US, there’s every reason believe it stacks up here too.

Take, for example, the analysis of over 1,600 newspapers obituaries – the basis of one US research initiative. It revealed those with a church or religious affiliation had lived on average over 6 years longer than those without.

Then there’s the study of over 1,000 obituaries from across the United States. This found a similar though slightly smaller effect. Those perceived to be religious had ‘only’ lived almost 4 years longer.

Even more impressive is a research project by the University of Iowa. By the end of the 12 year study:

  • 35 per cent of the non-church attenders had died
  • Only 14.5 percent of the church attenders had died

To put it simply, this research shows that if you are a weekly church attender you are 35 per cent more likely to live longer than those never darkening its doors.

Of course, you may wonder if these researchers naively made their comparison between a group of church goers who’d spent abstemious lives and some hedonistic smokers and drinkers. But, they insist, this was all factored in by examining a control group of equally healthy non-attenders.

The research also found churchgoers enjoyed a boost to their immune system and had less clogged arteries and high blood pressure. Though it made no reference to the impact a church can have on blood pressure no matter your age. Don’t go there!

Another piece of solid research, this time from Harvard, tracked 75,000 middle-age female nurses every four years between 1992 and 2012. How’s that for thorough?!

It revealed the more frequently the women attended church the longer their lives. Specifically, during the 20 year study, compared with those who said they never went to church –

  • Those attending more than weekly were at a 33 per cent lower risk of dying
  • Those attending weekly had 26 per cent lower risk of dying
  • Those attending less than weekly had a 13 per cent lower risk of dying

Why might churchgoers be likely to have a few extra years at their disposal?

This research from Harvard offered nothing conclusive to suggest it was religious activity – such as prayer and reading the Bible – that lengthened years. Rather they pointed to churchgoers finding it easier to maintain a healthy social network, especially in later life. With there being evidence that loneliness shortens life and friendships extend it.

Those behind the Iowa study equally admit they don’t know for sure. They accept those more frequently at church may have ‘better health behaviours’. Or it might be down to ‘the group interaction, the world view churchgoers have, or just the exercise to get out of the house.’

Be that as it may, what they are convinced about is ‘There’s something that seems to be beneficial.’ And even to the extent that one of the report’s co-authors suggested doctors could prescribe a course of church attendance to their benefit patients.

So there we have it. Just doing the right thing – spending time with God’s people on a regular basis – is likely to offer more years to enjoy and to serve. Let’s use them wisely and well.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Want to make the most of your extra after-work years? Then do explore our website and join our Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you.


Your community needs people like you – and the opportunities may surprise you.

Now that every day is a Saturday – except Sundays – could you invest some of your new-found time into your community?

There are crying needs out there and a vast range of opportunities– from simply ‘helping out’ to using your professional skills.

Finding the right niche may take some searching, patience and a little trial and error. But the outcome will be more than worth it – for them and for you.

Where to find a volunteer role

A simple first step to finding a rewarding volunteer role is the website of your local authority – look under ‘volunteers’. It reveals what they have available and, most likely, has links to local charities seeking help.

You could also look around and keep your eyes open. Notice boards in your library, doctor’s surgery and so on my have something. Or one of the many charity shops.

There are also two goldmines for you to explore:

Donate your professional skills through Reach: This ‘clearing house’ links those with skills in management, IT, finance, communications, mentoring, fundraising, accountancy, marketing, HR and more to charities desperate to use them. This can be from a few hours a week to full time.

Search a register of volunteer roles at CharityJob: At almost any time there are up to 3,000 volunteer posts here, searchable on post code and the kind of activity you are interested in.

Examples of volunteer opportunities

From the myriad of possibilities, the following are illustrations of ways your time, talents and experience can be used to serve others:

Childline: This lifeline for children and young people needs volunteers 24 hours a day, every day of the year. And can take volunteers for as little as 4 hours a week. They even offer an email counselling role.

Good Neighbours: Organised by the Royal Voluntary Service, this gives practical help to elderly people. From small household tasks to running errands. It also offers a way to spend time with a lonely older person either face to face or on the phone.

The Samaritans: There are vacancies for volunteers to listen, support or fund-raise.

Support a school through Scripture Union: They have identified many ways a volunteer can serve schools including –

  • Supporting class trips, as a teacher assistant, in the library, setting up displays etc. And helping at a breakfast or homework club, or at an extra curriculum group – sports clubs, drama groups etc
  • Joining a parent-teacher association or ‘Friends of the School’ or become a Governor – and so becoming a vital link between parents and school
  • Mentoring students – with students needing good role models who are prepared to listen
  • Support the staff who often feel stressed – praying for them, listening, offering practical help and showing appreciation
  • Pray, and set up a prayer support group.

Share your story

Already ahead of the game by volunteering in your community? Please use our FaceBook page to share your story – good or bad – to inspire and help others.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids’ inheritance.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to 

The 6 keys to a longer and healthier life

Why may some of us live longer and heathier than others? Once we could have put it down to our genes. And, to some extent, it still is.

But it‘s also about the life-style choices we make, according to Dr Roger Landry, author of Live Long, Die Short.

The differences between older adults who are healthier in later years and those not, says Dr Landry, are physical and intellectual. With it boiling down to 6 key issues that determine how well and how long we will live.

Here they come. The headings and medical info are Dr Landry’s and the application and examples are mine –.

  1. Having a purpose: This is about choosing to do things that matter rather than vegetating or drifting. For many this means volunteering – something that’s associated with reducing risk of blood pressure and heart disease, improving memory and brain function, and slowing down physical disability.To explore your options, see our website on
  2. Being socially connected: Although mainly an issue for later years, the lack of interaction with others can impact even in the early after-work years. Loneliness can lead to depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more. Taking steps to stay connected with family and friends, and finding new social connections is good for your health.For more on the issue see our website on Loneliness.
  3. Keeping the brain healthy: There’s evidence that maintaining a healthy brain contributes to overall good health. And this is not just about doing a daily crossword. Contributors to brain health include eating healthily, managing stress and regular exercise. But it also means keeping the brain active and challenged – perhaps through volunteering or taking up a new hobby or skill.For some brain-activity ideas see our website on New Challenges.
  4. Staying active: Being physically activity, even for less than an hour a day, has great health benefits – fighting off heart disease, strokes, Type 2 diabetes and more. Those who live longest often have daily lifestyles that include gardening, walking, swimming, hiking and biking.
  5. Feeding the spirit: This can be about more than having an active faith in God – though this is certainly part of it. It is also about feeding and nurturing our ‘inner-life’. Activities such as art, woodwork, gardening, journaling, listening to great music, and more can all nourish the spirit. This eases stress and the physical impact it can have on your health.
  6. Eating healthily: The right kind of food and good eating habits have a significant role to play at every stage of life. But even more so as the years advance. A poor diet can weaken the immune system – leading to a greater risk of illness and infection. In contrast, the right diet can fight off the impact of aging.For wise eating advice see The Stay Young Diet.

If these 6 keys are the way you are living then you are likely to live more healthily and for longer. And, if they are not? It’s never too late to make changes.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids’ inheritance.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to

Is Your Retirement Killing You?

Your retirement may be killing you. Here’s a survival plan.

You would expect the end of full-time work would bring a guarantee of inner health and happiness.

That saying ‘goodbye’ to the daily grind could only be a positive experience.

If only.

Instead, large numbers entering the joys of ‘after work’ find themselves unwell either physically or emotionally. The reason is stress.

And stress can be a killer.

Yet isn’t stress what we think we’ve escaped from? No longer being driven to do more with less, bombarded with constant information, while surrounded with life’s constant pressures.

Yet the very act of moving from work to after-work – with all the changes involved – can be a major stress inducer.

And the outcome for too many is an increase of everything from high blood pressure to heart disease, panic attacks to depression.

What is stress?

A useful definition of ‘stress’ is –

‘The changes that take place in your body and mind when a demand seems greater than your ability to cope’.

At the centre is what’s known as ‘fight or flight’. Faced with such a challenge, our bodies automatically spring into action. Muscles tense, the heart pumps blood to where it is more useful, and a wide range of hormones shoot into the bloodstream to give the added energy, strength and resources that may be needed.

Of itself, that’s good news. The bad news – when stress becomes distress – is when there is a constant stream of perceived threats to our wellbeing. And the result is an overload of reaction to ‘fight of flight’.

Believe it or not, this is what entering the world or retirement can do to some of us. Something that can lead to both physical and emotional illness.

Retirement and stress

Research shows the more ‘life-changes’ we have during a short period of time, the more likely stress will take its toll. Such life-changes include the bad – like the death of a loved one, divorce and financial difficulties. And the good – like marriage, a child leaving home and taking a holiday.

Up there with the rest of them is ‘retirement’. That’s because this major, and mostly welcome and happy, event presents a large number of threats to our perceived ability to cope.

The familiar has gone – replaced with the arrival of new routines, relationships and experiences. Together with the loss of many of those we enjoyed in the past. All inducing stress.

More than that, retirement can create a very real sense of bereavement.

The associated loss/death of purpose, friendships, routine, and reward can have an impact much like the death of someone we love.

In fact, though the impact of retirement may not be as great as being made redundant, it can come close. And if other life-change events are happening around it – children getting married, having babies, ill health, downsizing, etc – the life-changes are multiplied – and so is their impact.

How will you know you are a victim?

The symptoms of stress can be physical, emotional and behavioural. A few examples are –

Physical: Indigestion/heartburn, waking up tired, racing heartbeat, chronic constipation or diarrhoea, persistent headaches.

Emotional/mental: Feelings of futility or low self-worth, ‘blue’ moods, unreasonable fears, panic attacks, forgetfulness or confusion.

Behavioural: Insomnia, avoiding people, irritability, loss of sense of humour, irrational anger, difficulty in making decisions, misuse of alcohol/coffee, lack of concentration.

What can you do to fight back?

First, own up to stress as being an issue – either potentially or at the moment. Then pick from these few simple ideas and also check out health sites on the internet for a more comprehensive suggestions.

To keep stress at bay

  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Establish sensible sleep habits.
  • Do something enjoyable on a regular basis
  • Take time to be still each day

To combat stress when it comes

Do all the above, plus –

  • Practise deep relaxation
  • Watch TV that makes you laugh
  • Listen to music
  • Reduce clutter
  • Don’t let decisions hang over you
  • Don’t go it alone but be honest with those close to you

Finally, if things don’t get better, seek medical advice – and take it.


Peter Meadows

Peter uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids’ inheritance.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your after-work life go to


The ultimate dos and don’ts for a good night’s sleep

The struggle for a good night’s sleep is not age specific. But it often increases in later life.

Why can ageing make it harder to get to sleep and to stay that way?

One theory is it’s all in the brain. That neurons regulating our sleep slowly die as we get older. As a result, the brain fails to pick up the ‘time to sleep’ signals.

And it matters, because getting enough sleep is as vital as healthy eating and getting exercise. Here are just three things a lack of sleep can do to you –

  • Increase your appetite – and thus your waistline, damage your health – including causing pre-diabetes
  • Impair your immune function – more colds
  • Reduce your ability to interact socially – by making you irritable, lessening your ability to concentrate and think clearly

What can be done to help you get the zzzzzzzs you need? Here come 20 do’s and 10 don’ts to speed your journey to the land of nod.


20 ways to get a better night’s sleep

For the best results, work at the following over a period of time. You may need two to four weeks to see the best results.

  1. Go to bed only when sleepy.
  2. Use the bed only for sleeping — and that other thing.
  3. If you can’t sleep, move to another room. Stay up until you feel sleepy and then return to bed. If sleep does not come get out of bed again. The aim is to associate your bed with falling asleep easily. Repeat this as often as necessary throughout the night.
  4. Set the alarm and get up at the same time every morning, regardless of how much you have slept through the night.
  5. Take some exercise in the late afternoon or early evening.
  6. Drink herbal tea.
  7. Get a massage.
  8. Try consuming foods just before bed time that have tryptophan — like turkey, bananas, salmon, cherry juice, Cocoa.
  9. Sleep on a good firm bed.
  10. Don’t sleep in.
  11. Spend 20 minutes in a hot bath not long before going to bed.
  12. Keep the room temperature as constant as you can.
  13. Drink a glass of warm milk — as milk contains an amino acid that converts to a sleep-enhancing compound in the brain.
  14. Use simple relaxation and mind clearing exercises.
  15. Keep a note pad by the bed to write down things that come to mind that you worry you might forget.
  16. Go to bed at the same time each day.
  17. Get regular exercise each day.
  18. Keep the bedroom quiet when sleeping – and use a good make of ear plugs.
  19. Keep the bedroom dark enough. Use dark blinds or wear an eye mask if needed.
  20. When you go to bed, relax your muscles, beginning with your feet and working your way up to your head.

10 things not to do before going to bed

  1. Don’t exercise just before going to bed.
  2. Do not nap excessively during the daytime.
  3. Avoid ‘trying to sleep’.
  4. Avoid illuminated bedroom clocks.
  5. Don’t watch a computer or tablet screen for the period leading up to going to sleep
  6. Don’t stimulate your mind just before bedtime through things like playing a competitive game of cards or watching an exciting TV programme.
  7. Avoid caffeine. Remember caffeine is present in chocolate, as well as regular coffee or tea, and caffeinated soft drinks.
  8. Don’t read or watch television in bed.
  9. Don’t use alcohol to help you sleep.
  10. Don’t take another person’s sleeping pills.

For a bigger picture on the issue of sleep, including chronic insomnia, go to our web page on Sleep.

With the way life can be for some having an impact on sleep, check out our web page on Stress.

Peter Meadows

Peter uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids inheritance.

Do you have a tip on how to get a better night’s sleep? Please join the AfterWorkNet Facebook community and tell us.



The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife