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Is living longer all in your head?

A positive attitude to retirement is more strongly linked to living longer than functional health, marital and social status or race, according to literally life-changing US research. Amazing right? And this study is just the beginning of the evidence showing positivity can lead to longevity.

Optimism can lower the risk of dying

It all started back in 2002, with a scientific study finding 50-year-olds with a positive view about getting older lived seven years longer than those less optimistic about ageing. From there, positivity, a sense of wellbeing and being generally satisfied with life were shown to lower the risk of dying from any cause in a group of nearly 7,000 American men and women. And, according to a 2016 study, if you’re an optimistic, mature woman, you may have a lower risk of dying from any cause than your peers who don’t see the glass quite so full.

Look forward to retirement to enjoy it for LONGER

Other studies have shown that positive mental images about physical and psychological health in retirement (fit and healthy retirees socialising extensively and living life to the fullest, for instance) can lead to older adults living significantly longer than those with negative views (retirees with poor health and less social contact, for instance). Up to five years longer in fact.

Importantly, the results in all of these studies held true after removing the impact of other factors that can influence longevity like gender, age, socioeconomics and existing health conditions. In some studies, even health behaviours like diet and physical activity were found to play a lesser role than positive thoughts in extending lifespan.

It may not be too good to be true

It seems positivity about life in general, getting older and retirement leads us to act healthier and be more social – factors that have also been linked to longevity. Positivity also seems to help counteract the emotional and even physical harm negative feelings cause, and equip us with enduring resources (physical, social and psychological) that we can draw on when things get tough. Lastly, it seems perception can truly become reality – if you think you’ll be healthy, happy and independent in retirement, you may very well be.

Want to capture this mental fountain of youth?

Though thinking positively can lead to positive behaviour, sometimes it might be a matter of just diving in. And, here are some tips to get you started.

Stay active

Daily moderate exercise has obvious physical benefits and can also improve your overall mental health and foster a positive attitude towards life, retirement and ageing.

Stay social

A sense of loneliness is something many of us can feel at some point. Joining a community group or picking up a hobby that involves regular meet-ups with others could help.

Stay ambitious

Whether you decide to learn a musical instrument, master a new language or draw up a whole bucket list, working towards a clear objective can give you a sense of purpose.

Stay working

Even if you plan to cut back to part-time or take up a volunteering role, working longer can help maintain social networks and give you something to look forward to each day.

Is now the time to get on financial track?

Financial stress can be a major contributor to a negative mindset, and ensuring your pennies are in a row is crucial to making sure retirement is something to look forward to and enjoy. Sunsuper has a host of tools and services that can help you get on top, feel on top, and stay on top for when you call it a day.

Forecast the future

Our retirement forecaster can project what could be waiting for you in the future.

Get your super sorted

Our qualified financial advisers1 can answer simple questions about your super over the phone, or tailor a plan to get your super on track through the SunTracker program.

Seek personal advice

And if you need a full plan covering your total financial situation, we can put you in touch with an accredited external financial adviser 2 near you.

Just call us on 13 11 84 to get started

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