Archive | Lifestyle

Mind over matter

Mind over matter

Overloaded with deadlines, information and responsibilities, it’s little wonder that we sometimes end up on autopilot. Mindfulness can help us overcome the struggle and improve our physical, emotional and even our financial wellbeing.

Have you noticed how busy everybody is nowadays?

It doesn’t make for a relaxing life and it isn’t healthy either. Stressed out and short of time, it’s easy to turn to quick fixes. It might be a couple of beers, some chocolate, zoning out on the couch or indulging in a little retail therapy.

Our minds wander to what we’d rather be doing. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do is think about the here and now.

But doing just that can have surprising benefits.

Mindfulness offers us a way to cope with the demands of our overloaded lives. It can reduce our tendency to worry, boost our confidence and help us make better decisions.

Have you been paying attention?

Being mindful involves paying deliberate attention to what we’re experiencing in that very moment, without judging it as good or bad. That includes concentrating on our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

When we focus on what’s going on right now, we develop greater awareness. And, just like regular physical exercise transforms the body, consistently practising mindfulness can change the brain.

Studies have found that mindfulness consistently affects the parts of the brain that are associated with self-regulation, learning, complex thought, and resilience.

Mindfulness does not only have a positive effect on health and wellbeing, but also… is likely to improve one’s ability to make high-quality judgments and decisions.

Everywhere from businesses to schools, sports arenas and even prisons, mindfulness is being used to reduce stress, improve performance and develop greater empathy.

In Australia, one of the first organisations to introduce widespread mindfulness training was leading law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. In a profession known for its long hours and high demands, the program has generated meaningful change, including a 45% increase in focus and a 35% reduction in stress among participants.

Get money minded

Applying mindfulness to how we manage and think about our money is useful in a variety of ways.

1. Better decisions:

Being mindful helps at each stage of the decision-making process, from initially framing it, to gathering information, making a conclusion, and finally learning from the experience. In particular, it helps combat the ‘sunk cost trap’, which is the strong bias to persist with a bad decision because of how much has already been invested.

Having the clarity to consider how the available options relate to personal goals and hone in on the most relevant facts, stands people in good stead when faced with major investment or borrowing decisions.

2. Reduced impulsiveness:

Bringing yourself back to the present moment curbs the instinct to act on impulse. That can reduce the tendency to overspend on items don’t really want or need. You can help with sticking to a budget.

3. Lower anxiety:

Personal finances are consistently rated as the number one source of stress, according to the Australian Psychological Society. Mindfulness is a valuable tool to reduce anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed.

Developing greater awareness can help us make wise choices when faced with major investment or borrowing decisions, and change day-to-day patterns of behaviour that underpin financial wellbeing. And all without tearing our hair out.

Beyond the brain

Mindfulness does more than give us a mental boost. Studies have found it also leads to:

  • Better sleep
  • Improved digestion
  • More physical and mental energy
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased immunity, including against the flu

Tips for getting started

Mindfulness is most effective when it’s part of a regular routine. The good news is it doesn’t have to take long or cost money – 10 minutes a day is enough to make a difference, and there are lots of ways to do it for free.

  • Devote your complete attention to doing a single simple activity, like having a coffee. Notice everything about it: the heat of the cup, the aroma, the steam rising, the taste and how it changes, the warmth and energy as you drink, and how it makes you feel.
  • Ask yourself a question and pause for a minute to reflect on what it means to you. It could be ‘What makes me happy?’ or ‘What does this moment require?’.
  • Go for a walk in a park or your neighbourhood and concentrate on your surroundings – the people, nature, the weather and the sounds.
  • Listen to a piece of music – a favourite song, or something new – and concentrate on the different sounds and rhythms.
  • Take one minute when you start or finish something during the day to breathe deeply, identify your feelings, thoughts and physical sensations and let them pass.
  • Try an app – there’s a range of mobile mindfulness training programs you can download. A great place to start is Smiling Mind, a free Australian app with a wide range of short programs for all ages.
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Warm up for winter

Warm up for winter

The colder months are nearly upon us and for many of us this can be a real downer for our mood and our general health.

Rather than just resigning yourself to a season of hibernation, there are some simple things you can do to stay happier and healthier. Why not take the initiative now and give these ideas a try. They could be just what you need to warm up your winter.

Sleeping habits

The temptation to sleep in is much greater on cold mornings, but this can dampen your mood and make you feel more sluggish. Keep your sleep patterns consistent to combat this by aiming for a regular bedtime and around eight hours per night. Avoid late evening sugary snacks and get up early to maximise your daylight hours, which can have a positive effect on mood.

Eat smarter

It’s natural to want to indulge a little more when it’s cold and dark as a way of cheering ourselves up. The usual suspects are simple processed carbs and sugary foods like chocolate, but these can produce a spike in blood sugar followed by a slump in mood.

Plan your snacks ahead to replace these foods with healthier options like nuts and crunchy vegetables, which have much greater health and weight management benefits.

Make some soup

Replace the usual heavy winter fare with some soup instead. The process of making soup in itself is therapeutic, the aromas that fill the home are divine and the health benefits can be positive. Use lots of vegetables, legumes and a good bone broth as a base.

Getaway goodness

Why not cheer yourself and a loved one up by taking the occasional brief getaway to a favourite winter spot. Visit some winery or craft regions, for example, where you can enjoy some indulgence, a bit of retail therapy and finish the day in front of an open fireplace to warm the toes and the heart.

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Time management tips

Time management tips

Feeling stressed about not having enough hours in the day to get things done? Try these tips to get in control.

Plan ahead

Many of us never bother to plan the day ahead and wait until the day is upon us before deciding what they will do. Inevitably ‘stuff’ happens and we end up being reactive, rather than allocating time effectively. Planning the day ahead the night before will allow you to be objective about time use and eliminate time wastage.

Get in control of your social media

The great modern day time guzzlers of Facebook and Twitter can sap our energy and brain space, so allocate specific time for its use. Email can also chew up unnecessary hours, so allocate time to attend to it during the day, rather than making it your first port of call.

“Me time”

Whether it is walking the dog, taking a nap or playing a musical instrument, find out what it is that “refuels” your energy levels and gives you mental breathing space and then make sure you schedule that “me time” as a priority in every day.

Consolidate housekeeping tasks

Busy lifestyles can often mean that tasks such as shopping, cooking and cleaning happen in an ad hoc fashion. Consolidating such activities can reap you hours every week, so why not shop once a week instead of daily, cook meals that can be batched and frozen and set aside a specific time of the week for all the cleaning.

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Never too old to learn

Never too old to learn

Many people who reach middle age will often discover a hunger for a new challenge in their career direction, but is it too late to take the plunge?

In days gone by, having the same job for life was quite commonplace. Not so today. Career flexibility and job hopping are the new norm for those who are starting out on their working life. But that doesn’t mean that those who are not so young are excluded.

Potentially, there is nothing stopping you from revitalising your skills and knowledge in a new area and making the switch to a new career. Mature aged students often have the advantage of a broader world view, a clearer sense of purpose and a more stable lifestyle and these can be big pluses when it comes to excelling in a new field of study.

Universities and TAFE colleges are now quite attuned to the needs and aspirations of mature age students and many will offer the flexibility you need to fit study around your existing work and family commitments, such as online study options, weekend or summer intensive programs and evening classes.

They also offer support services to help mature age students make the transition back into the classroom.

Of course it is not just the career changers who can benefit from rekindling their learning abilities. If you are simply looking for a new challenge and some mental stimulation, embarking on a course on a topic that interests you may be the solution.

You only live once, so if you have the urge for a new direction, consider giving mature age study a try.

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Raising stroke awareness

Raising stroke awareness

Stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases account for 1 in 18 deaths in males and 1 in 12 deaths in females, making it one of the most significant diseases in Australia*.

In 2013 there were 51,000 strokes causing about a $5 billion loss to the economy, $3 billion in lost productivity and $1 billion in lost wages**. Almost 440,000 Australians now live with the effects of stroke and this number is predicted to rise rapidly***.

What is it and what causes it?

Stroke occurs as a result of an interruption of blood supply to the brain, due to a blocked or burst artery. The lack of oxygen to the brain causes brain cells to die, which can affect the function of various parts of the body.

High blood pressure is the most important known risk factor for stroke and this can be addressed by improving diet, regular exercise and keeping weight under control.

Be aware of the signs

The signs that someone is having a stroke are neatly summed up in the acronym; F.A.S.T.

  • Facial drooping – usually on one side.
  • Arm weakness – an inability to raise the arms fully
  • Speech difficulties – slurring
  • Time – if stroke is suspected call emergency services or go to the hospital immediately.

Some additional symptoms can also occur in women, including loss of consciousness, weakness, shortness of breath, disorientation, nausea and even hiccups. These symptoms are often not recognised as being caused by stroke, which may delay treatment and increase the damage done.

Stroke week raises awareness

National Stroke Week runs from 12 – 18 September to raise awareness and encourage preventative action. The theme “Speed Saves” underlines the importance of swift action. For more information, visit the Stroke Foundation’s site at www.strokefoundation.com.au.

 

* Australian Bureau of Statistics: Causes of Death, Australia, 2014

** Deloitte Access Economics 2013, The economic impact of stroke in Australia.

*** Deloitte Access Economics 2014, Impact of stroke across Australia.

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A focus on men’s health

A focus on men's health

Men’s Health Week runs from June 13 to 19 and offers a unique opportunity for communities across Australia to put a renewed focus on male health issues and positive actions that men and boys can take to better their health.

Health issues specific to men

Australian men are more likely to get sick from serious health problems than women. This is due to a range of factors, including a tendency for men to be more reluctant to get simple health checks and to ask for help.

This imbalance can be seen in the male to female ratio of causes of death*:

  • Heart disease: 119 to 100
  • Lung cancer: 150 to 100
  • Colon and rectum cancer: 124 to 100
  • Diabetes: 108 to 100
  • Suicide: 300 to 100

It’s about wellness, not just illness

Prevention is always better than a cure, so it is vital that men take steps to better their health. Making radical changes to lifestyle can be difficult, due to the business of life, but making incremental changes is achievable and can have genuine positive impacts.

So what are the key actions to take?

Be physically active

Simple activities that fit easily into your schedule, such as a brisk daily walk, mowing the lawn and biking are a great way to make a start. Try to work up to 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity for most days of the week.

Eat a healthy diet

Increase the proportion of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet, use fat-free or low-fat dairy and include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Lower your salt, sugar and alcohol intake too.

Stay at a healthy weight

The equation is simple; balance the calories you take in with the calories you burn. As you age, eat fewer calories and increase your physical activity. Small consistent changes will prevent gradual weight gain over time.

More details on Men’s Health Week can be found at www.menshealthweek.org.au

* The Australian Bureau of Statistics Leading Causes of Death by Gender (2012)

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Getting to the heart of the matter

Getting to the heart of the matter

The Heart Foundation has just completed its annual Heart Week event. It’s an opportunity to shine a light on the prevalence of heart disease in the community and what can be done to reduce the risks and achieve a more successful recovery.

Part of the Heart Foundation’s mission is to educate the public and health professionals on what can be done to prevent heart disease and rehabilitate those who suffer from it. As an insurer that is interested in improved health outcomes we want to support this goal by sharing some insights that may helpful to you.

Just how big are the risks?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of death in Australia, with 43,603 deaths attributed to CVD in Australia in 2013. That’s 30% of all deaths, with one Australian every 12 minutes. It is estimated over 350,000 Australians have had a heart attack at some time in their lives.*

It’s not just men who are affected

While more focus may be given to men when discussing heart disease it is also an issue for women. It may come as a surprise to know that heart disease is the number one killer of Australian women and is four times more likely to be a cause of death than breast cancer.**

The good news is that a lot of these deaths are largely preventable and there is much that we can do to reduce our risks.

What are the causes?

The major risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess weight and obesity, physical inactivity, low fruit and vegetable intake, alcohol and smoking.

Nine in ten adult Australians have at least one risk factor for CVD and one in four have three or more risk factors.

What can you do about it?

Many of these risk factors relate to lifestyle, which means that it is possible to influence your risk of heart disease by adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. This includes:

  • Eating a higher proportion of vegetables, whole grains, fruit, nuts, legumes and fish
  • Making good fat choices, such as olive oil
  • Choosing reduced full fat dairy products and eating less salt
  • Regular physical activity, such as 2.5 to 5 hours of physical activity of moderate intensity per week
  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week
  • Sit less and walk more.

Be aware of symptoms

Although chest pain or discomfort are common symptoms of a heart attack, this is not universal and the symptoms may present in other areas of the body.

This includes pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in areas such as the jaw, back, shoulder, neck and arms. The symptoms for men and women can vary and research has found that women are less likely to experience chest pain.

The critical message if you think you may be suffering heart problems is to act early. For more information on warning signs and what to do visit heartfoundation.org.au.

Protect yourself financially

One encouraging feature regarding heart disease is that survival chances are improving. In 2009, 63% of people were surviving heart attack, compared with a 45% survival rate in 1994.***

Many of those who survive go on to recover and have a normal life expectancy. While physical recovery is good news, surviving a heart attack may cause problems financially. A good recovery may depend on adjusting lifestyle, reducing working hours or lowering the stress of debt and expenses. All of these factors may require significant amounts of cash to make them possible.

This is where trauma cover can be so valuable. It can pay a lump sum benefit upon diagnosis that can allow you to make such lifestyle changes. If you want to know more, talk to your adviser about how trauma insurance can help you.

* http://heartfoundation.org.au/about-us/what-we-do/heart-disease-in-australia

** http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/womenheart-disease/Pages/default.aspx

*** Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Trends in Cardiovascular Disease 2012.

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Enjoy the benefits of volunteering

Enjoy the benefits of volunteering

Retirement is a time to put your feet up and enjoy life, but many people will still have a desire to keep their minds and talents engaged. Volunteering is a great way to do this.

A multitude of options

The opportunities to use your time, talents and labour can be found in a vast variety of situations and organisations. As a starting point, consider the many institutions in your local area, such as schools, community centres, charitable organisations, aged care institutions, hospitals and churches. They all need willing helpers to apply their hands, hearts and minds to help make a real difference. Beyond these places, you can combine the benefits of volunteering with your desire for travel through many overseas opportunities.

A win-win situation

It is not just a sense of altruism that attracts people to volunteering. Many discover a genuine sense of purpose and an opportunity to be mentally and physically engaged. In many ways it is an ideal way for retirees to redirect their energies and focus, after a lifetime of employment has suddenly come to an end. It provides an outlet for social connection and a chance to broaden your focus outside of your own personal world.

Something for everyone

To find a volunteering need that best meets your abilities and interests, the best place to start is to consider what talents, skills and experience you have built up over your years of work or raising a family. It is also important to consider the types of causes or needs that you feel personally drawn to. Once you have considered what you have to offer you can then seek out possibilities that may suit you.

A great starting point to locate thousands of opportunities is the Volunteering Australia website www.govolunteer.com.au. This site provides a search facility based on location, causes, types and events, so that you can easily match a position to your profile.

Why not make volunteering an integral part of your retirement planning and discover how it can open your horizons to a more fulfilling lifestyle.

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Keeping your brain healthy

Keeping your brain healthy

Taking care of our brain health can make a difference in how well it functions well into old age and can help combat degenerative brain disorders that are increasingly prevalent. Here are a few pointers to help you take action now.

Keeping physically fit

Generally speaking, any exercise which is good for your heart is going to benefit your brain too. Aerobic exercises are ideal and also help fight high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

A simple exercise program that gets your heart rate increased on a daily basis is all you need. Walking, cycling, swimming and group exercise classes are ideas that we can all incorporate easily into our lifestyle.

Sleep is vital to maintaining memory and clarity, so make sure you get a regular 8  hours every night. Anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns will also impact brain health, so seek professional help to manage such conditions.

You are what you eat

Diet can also play an important role in your brain health. A balanced overall diet aimed at controlling weight, blood pressure and cholesterol is the basis to start from. It is also important to include foods that are high in antioxidants and folate. Some key foods include leafy greens, berries, red grapes oily fish, legumes and cereals.

Excessive drugs and stimulants are negatives, so limit the intake of things like alcohol and caffeine.

Exercise for the mind can help

Our brains naturally begin deteriorating from around the age of forty and unused parts of the brain will tend to stop working. Fortunately, in the same way that we strengthen our bodies through exercising, flexing your mental muscle can help limit deterioration.

Recent research has indicated that memory and problem solving puzzles and activities can have a positive effect on keeping our faculties in tune. By challenging the brain it can create new pathways and effectively regain mental functions that have suffered attrition.

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Fighting melanoma in the sunburnt country

Fighting melanoma in the sunburnt country

As Australians, we take a lot of pride in the fact that we lead the world in many arenas, such as sport, science, business and the arts. Unfortunately we also lead the world in another area that is not so desirable. As the nation with the highest incidence of melanoma, it’s high time we turned the tide.

It can start as a seemingly innocuous spot on the skin, but can quickly develop into one of the most aggressive and potentially deadly diseases. Melanoma affects more Australians per capita than any other country in the world. In fact there are 30 cases diagnosed every day* and in 2009 there were 48,364 Australians living with the disease**.

Melanoma is projected to make up a massive 10.2% of all cancer diagnoses in Australia for 2015** and to underscore its seriousness, an expected 1,160 males and 515 females will die from it in 2015**.

Why is it so prevalent here?

The sunny climate is certainly a starting point, but genetic and lifestyle factors compound the risks considerably. The simple fact is that Melanoma risk increases with exposure to UV radiation. That means excessive exposure to the sun that causes sunburn, will impact on your chances of contracting it – particularly if the exposure is while you are young.

The high proportion of people with fair skin, freckles, light eye colour and light or red hair also affects the high incidence rate. A first degree relative who has had melanoma will also increase your risk of contracting it.

Easy ways to reduce the risks

Despite the increased awareness of the risk factors, almost 14% of adults, 24% of teenagers and 8% of children are sunburnt on an average summer weekend***. This highlights the need to follow the well-known prevention routine; slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat. This is still the best primary defence and has now been supplemented with further advice to ‘seek some shade’ and ‘slide on some sunglasses’.

Early diagnosis makes a big difference

Even the most sun-safe person still needs to be aware of the early warning signs of a melanoma. Checking yourself regularly for the appearance of a new spot, or a change in an existing freckle or mole is the start, but you also need to be checked professionally on a regular basis too, either by your GP, a Skin Cancer Clinic or a Dermatologist.

An excellent reference for self-checking can be found in the ‘Preventing Melanoma‘ section of the Melanoma Institute of Australia website.

Good news on treatment and survival

A five stage rating system is used to define the extent and development of the cancer and treatment options vary depending on the stage the cancer has reached. This may be limited to surgery and excision if it is detected in early stage, but may also include radiotherapy, chemotherapy and drug treatments if it is more advanced.

It’s a relief to know that of those suffering skin cancers in Australia, 90% have a chance of surviving for 5 years** and complete cure is possible, but success relies heavily on early detection and hence the need for regular check-ups.

Being prepared to fight the disease

Having the financial resources to obtain the best treatment and to adjust your lifestyle and work situation is an important part of facing diseases such as melanoma. A well-planned personal risk management strategy should include insurance protection that pays you a lump sum benefit for specific trauma conditions, such as Early Stage Melanoma.

Trauma insurance is an ideal way to help fight the financial impacts of cancer because it pays a lump sum benefit, which you can use to pay off debts, supplement your income protection, fund a sabbatical, or any other purpose you choose.

Your adviser can help you to plan your risk protection strategy to give you the financial means to help you focus on getting better.

 

 

melanoma.org.au/understanding-melanoma/

** canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/cancer-types/melanoma-skin/melanoma-skin-statistics

*** cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/skin-cancer.html

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Follow these five health essentials

Follow these five health essentials

The gimmicks and fads bombarding us on the web and in the media can become overwhelming, so here is an attempt to get back to basics with five essentials that keep it simple.

Get moving

Our bodies need to simply get in motion to stay healthy. This is especially important if you work in a sedentary job or spend a lot of your recreation time in front of a screen. Make time each day for at least 30 minutes of exercise that gets your heart rate up and muscles engaged. A brisk walk, a stretching routine or some basic floor exercises are things we can all do for fun and for free.

Go to sleep

Sleep is often an underrated factor in mental and physical wellbeing. Aim for a good 8 hours if you want your body to properly recharge. It can help relieve stress, boost creativity and even aid learning ability. Aim for a regular bedtime and limit pre-bedtime exercise, eating and screen time, so that your body can wind down.

Drink up

We naturally lose 2.5 to 3 litres of water every day so it makes sense to put it back. Fluids are essential for many functions including blood flow, waste disposal, joint function and digestion.

Get some rays

Catching some daily sun is important for Vitamin D production, which aids calcium absorption and may even influence other health factors such as blood pressure and our mental disposition. Of course you should always take precautions against the sun’s harmful effects, but avoiding it completely means you may be missing out on important benefits.

Eat well

Rather than looking for wonder diets and super foods, focus on the basics of a healthy diet. Seek a wide variety of food groups, with a predominance of whole grains, high fibre cereals and vegetables, coupled with moderate amount of lean proteins, dairy and fruit.

Form some healthy habits around these five essentials and reap the benefits of better health.

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Hobbies can help you heal

Hobbies can help you heal

Coping with life’s stresses can often benefit from keeping the mind active and creative and many people are now finding that taking up a hobby can be therapeutic.

In days gone by pursuits such as sewing and woodwork were more of a necessity than a pastime, but did they make people happier? These days computers and TV’s take up our leisure time and offer a lot less in terms of healthy mental activity.

Engaging in a hobby can therefore help restore some balance.

Does it make a difference?

A study quoted in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at a group of 30 women who regularly engaged in sewing. By testing key indicators, such as blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature before and after various leisure activities, it turns out that sewing produced distinct improvements. This contrasted with more negative stress responses when they switched to other activities, such as playing cards or video games.

It seems that hobbies can produce a relaxation response that brings a sense of mental and physical wellbeing. Employing the creative side of our minds and concentrating on a skilled task can refocus our thoughts into the present, rather than dwelling on past events and experiences that cause us anxiety.

A welcome break from a hectic lifestyle

Hobbies are sometimes typecast as being a waste of valuable time or an indulgent obsession. Perhaps it is time to take a fresh look at how they can refresh the mind and the spirit – especially when we are re-adjusting to life after a personal loss or unexpected change of circumstances.

The challenge is to make the time and space that can be allocated specifically toward a hobby as a valuable and restorative practice. Perhaps a positive first step is to take a course or join a club to gain motivation and meet like-minded people. Making the effort may well be the catalyst to greater fulfilment and enjoyment of life.

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Gramping gets families together

Gramping gets families together

The pace of modern life is making it increasingly difficult for all generations within families to get together to enjoy each other’s company. One idea that many families are finding as the answer to this issue is to go ‘gramping’.

Gramping simply involves having the three generations in a family going off to a camping location where they can rekindle family relationships and enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed and fun environment. It can also be a great way to reduce or share the cost of a holiday if the budget is tight.

Benefits for all generations

Camping holidays have the intrinsic attraction of getting back to nature that appeals to all ages. Many parents are seeing it as a novel way of getting their children back into meaningful contact with elder members of the family. It’s perhaps the shared experience of camping that helps to fuel interaction and a simple desire to have fun together: – whether it is cooking and chatting around an open fire, pitching in together to share camp chores or enjoying an all-in game of cricket or volleyball.

Kids love the adventurous aspect of it, while their parents can enjoy the benefit of having some extra child-minding around. For grandparents, it’s a chance to strengthen connections with both generations, which may have been hindered by the distraction and isolation of technology and the busyness of the workaday world.

An easy, low-cost holiday option

Apart from the social benefits, gramping offers the advantage of being generally a lower cost holiday compared to staying in hotels or resorts. Amusement is based on family games and the attractions of the natural environment, rather than pricey theme parks or other tourist attractions. The novelty of camp cooking makes meals cheaper too.

Many holiday parks offer comfortable cabins for those less inclined to sleep in a tent, so gramping is still an option for family members who are not so mobile. It’s a great way for extended families to reconnect.

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Grey nomads enjoy freedom

Grey nomads enjoy freedom

It’s a growing phenomenon with appeal to those who want to enjoy an active independent retirement. The grey nomads are packing up and heading out on self-contained sojourns to all corners of the country.

With the responsibilities of a family and mortgage no longer keeping them pinned down, those who have planned their finances well are discovering they now have the time and money to escape with a caravan or motorhome and explore the country at their leisure.

Perhaps the attraction lies in the potential of discovering unexpected sights and experiences, knowing that you are free to stop and stay as long as you like. Add to that the appeal of meeting like-minded folk who are sharing the same lifestyle and it is not hard to understand why so many are choosing to spend their retirement this way.

A little planning goes a long way

Of course, it isn’t just a matter of heading off on the spur of the moment. Some wise planning is needed to ensure that your adventure delivers maximum enjoyment.

Discuss with your partner what you both expect from the trip and how you will handle living together at such close quarters. It can be quite intense if you are used to your own space, but on the plus side, it can be a great way to rediscover the joys of your relationship and share new experiences together. Just ensure you also allow time and space for individual pastimes, such as reading, golfing, fishing, bushwalking or photography.

Test the water before diving in

It’s a good idea to perhaps try a shorter trip in a hired motorhome or caravan to iron out any unexpected issues, before you take the plunge into a longer term investment in vehicles and equipment.

Planning your route and researching some key destinations is essential, but it’s equally important to build in flexibility so you can stay longer if a particular location takes your fancy.

Sound appealing? Where would you travel to?

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