If you want to study the mind-body connection, the way the former influences the latter, look no further than the stress individuals and couples face when planning for retirement. For this anxiety, which is as physically real as it is empirically true (that most people are not in a position to retire with any degree of financial security), demands greater clarity and understanding.
According to this report from The Wall Street Journal, the 70 percent rule about retirement-- that you should aim to retain that percentage of your current income-- does not prepare the majority of soon-to-be retirees for the economic reality that awaits them.The author of the study says:
"Most people focus on the 70 percent they will keep, not the spending they will give up. They aren't prepared for the changes that will be required in their lifestyles. When they eventually are confronted by the specifics they have to cut, they are unhappy. In short, the 70 percent rule makes the future seem secure and comfortable, even when it's not."
No doubt this finding is an unpleasant truth, but it is also a possible contributing factor to far greater problems. That is, the correlation between economic hardship and emotional pain exacts a heavy toll.
It is hardly a secret that stress affects physical health, as well, notably if short-term stress becomes chronic or long-term. Scores of references attest to this. Symptoms including sleep deprivation, obesity (linked to type 2 diabetes), depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and suicidal thoughts are frequently mentioned.
None of these are welcomed at any age, but for retirees, the vast majority of which are seniors, this is a disaster waiting to happen. Do we really need to add the stress induced by retirement planning (or an underfunded retirement) to the mix?
Too bad that you can't always rely on the experts, according to this article with the rather sobering title "Financial Advisors Giving Wrong Advice About Retirement Savings." Here's a great pull excerpt:
"Those seniors with income in the top 20 percent are in the top because of earnings. That likely means they continue to work or they own a business. Financial advisors earn more if you save more (and invest in the stuff they want you to buy) but they don't seem to advise you to keep working. Yet, it is common sense that earnings will far over-shadow any savings you can do."
According to Larry Klein of RetirementIncome.net:
"There is too much conflicting advice about planning for retirement, much of it from individuals who should either know better or refrain from complicating an already challenging series of issues. The result is an increase in personal stress and a spike in our collective uncertainty about retirement. Accurate information is the best antidote to this dilemma."
And, his website is chock full of useful, actionable information. Check out this recent article entitled "Harvard MBA Reveals the Best Tool for Stock Market Forecasts." Another wonderful quote:
"The public is a sucker for stock market forecasts and predictions. Without the public's propensity to value stock market forecasts and predictions, Wall Street fat cats would not be so fat. They get fat based on people buying and selling. So the more stock market forecasts and predictions they can get into the press, magazines, on TV, published on the web and into your head, the more money they earn. And you're the chump."
Wow. A contrarian approach to remove stress from what is supposed to be your golden years. Or, as one wag put it: We must not retire... from getting the facts about planning for retirement.