Stay connected with others by creating a new social network. Not only are you retiring from work, but you are also leaving behind your community, friends, and co-workers and it can become very lonely in the first few months of retirement. I have counseled some men who have had to retire because of health issues, and their loneliness is palpable. Work for them was a social network, but now they sit at home just watching TV. Our society is a lot different than it was 100 years ago, where neighbors would check in on neighbors. Now we just sit in our own houses isolated from the world.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things You Should Do to Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Sharron Frederick, LCSW.
Psychotherapist Sharron Frederick, LCSW joined Clarity Health Solutions in Jupiter, Fla. as a seasoned psychotherapist in April 2020. She works with teenagers and adults through the use of several integrated approaches including CBT, DBT, and other modalities to empower clients to overcome their mental health struggles. She previously treated children, teens, adults, seniors, and families in individual and group therapy sessions at various community centers, hospitals, and geriatric and hospice facilities throughout South Florida. Her solution-focused approach helps clients work through anxiety, stress, mood disorders, trauma, depression, low self-esteem, intimacy and trust issues, communication, anger, bereavement, crises, medical diagnoses, and more. She earned a Bachelors and Master of Social Work degree with a certificate in geriatrics and aging from Florida Atlantic University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I was born in Bexleyheath, England, which is just south of London in the beautiful county of Kent. I am the oldest of three children and have twin brothers who are two years younger than me. My childhood started out quite turbulent, with domestic violence and emotional abuse, and my mother eventually left my dad when I was around 7 years old. We went to live with my grandparents for two years, which were the best years of my childhood, enjoying my nan’s cooking, and my grandfather’s love of nature. My mum ended up moving in with my step-father, who has two sons, and we became a family of seven when I was around 9 years old. It was fun driving from England to Spain once a year, with the five children in the back singing and playing games while hanging our feet out of the window. At 11, I decided to stop seeing my father, as I felt I was mentally “coming undone” and did not see him until I was in my 20s. This created an issue between myself and my brothers who loved our father, even though my father was emotionally and at times physically abusive towards them. My teenage years were extremely turbulent with hormones and trauma responses that I did not understand at the time. I ended up leaving school at 16 and went to college to be a legal secretary, and upon leaving college I got a job in London for one of the top solicitor firms. I realize now I was not cut out for that job, but I enjoyed myself for the next several years, partying and working in London, until I got fired from my job at age 23. I went into a deep depression, feeling lost as I knew being a legal secretary was not the job I wanted to continue doing. An opportunity presented itself to go to Canada for about four months to visit family and I jumped at the opportunity, creating a new road in my future.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Therapy truly works, and although I believed it during my own years of therapy, since being in the field and learning the research and techniques, it has truly helped me to transform into who I am today. I am of the belief that you should practice what you preach, and why would you not if you believe in what you do? These lessons that I have learnt, both in the classroom and through my own discovery, have helped me to not only look through a therapeutic lens, but also to be empathetic in my therapy because “I have been there”. This stuff truly works!
During my training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), I was so surprised that although I have worked on my own issues, not all of my issues had been resolved, and that by doing EMDR I was able to process some traumas that were still lingering. Also, having gone through EMDR, it is so much easier to explain it to my clients and to share with them the enthusiasm I feel about something so life changing.
For me, I have been so surprised at how working with people has transformed them from feeling powerless to helping them feel empowered over their own lives. To see a person change before your eyes is so amazing and rewarding, as they take on a healthier relationship with themselves and others. It truly inspires me to keep learning and work towards being a better therapist seeing their own transformation.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I’m not sure if it is a mistake, but I really do watch what I say to people now. I had a client and we were talking about issues with co-dependency. I said to the client, “Have you ever thought of yourself as a people pleaser?” This caused the client to sit back and think, but she never really said anything. I attempted to address the situation at the next session, but the client would not address the conversation about being a people pleaser. Eventually, I discharged the client because she met her goals and several months later we bumped into each other and she approached me in a friendly manner stating, “Do you remember when you said I was a people pleaser?” I asked what she thought of that statement and she said, “No one has ever said that to me, but you were right.” Now, whenever we bump into each other she will say to me, “Remember when you said…..”. I realized at that point that people really do remember what you say to them in therapy and when clients start with “remember when you said……..” I always tense up and pray that it was something both intelligent and helpful.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would have to say that first of all it was my children, who are also twins. They helped me to become the person I am today. When they were born, I wanted to be the best version of myself, and that required me to continue to get help and to pursue my career, which was to get a degree in social work/counseling. Secondly, my husband. I told him that I wanted to go back to college to get a degree in social work and he said, “Go for it.” I tried to get my transcripts from England, but they destroy them after 10 years, even my high school transcripts, so I had to start from the beginning to get my GED. My husband was there all the way as my number one cheerleader, embracing my own self-transformation, and always encouraging me to move forward. I admire him for not feeling threatened by my continued changing and reinventing myself, and for that I will always be grateful for him. Thank you, Thom.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Focus on self-care and create boundaries. Most therapists teach/encourage their clients to engage in self-care, which can encompass journaling, being in nature, exercising, eating healthy, sleeping, connecting with others, limiting use of alcohol, and refraining from drug use, but then after a stressful day, I have known therapists who go home and drink a couple of glasses of wine. I believe the importance of self-care is understated because providing that work/life balance requires helps us to be our best selves, show up for our own lives, and ultimately avoid burnout.
Boundaries are also so important, something some therapists have a hard time with. I have known therapists to take calls at all hours of the night, which not only will create symptoms of burnout, but does not provide a positive example of what boundaries look like for our clients.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I believe that autonomy in the workplace is important. Studies have shown that creating a work environment that is autonomous can lead to a sense of wellbeing and job satisfaction, which in turn enables people to be more creative, increase motivation, and be happier in their jobs and lives.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In some cases, retirement can reduce health, and in others it can improve health. From your point of view or experience, what are a few of the reasons that retirement can reduce one’s health?
One of the first things that changes when we retire is we no longer have a schedule. For some people, they will embrace not having a schedule, filling it with activities and projects they were unable to complete while working. For others, a lack of a schedule could lead to a decline in one’s health. People may become less active and more sedentary during the day, not feeling motivated to do the things they once enjoyed while working. Over time, people may start to gain weight, feel depressed, and become isolated. All of these factors play a big role in our overall health.
Can you share with our readers 5 things that one should do to optimize their wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Stay connected with others by creating a new social network. Not only are you retiring from work, but you are also leaving behind your community, friends, and co-workers and it can become very lonely in the first few months of retirement. I have counseled some men who have had to retire because of health issues, and their loneliness is palpable. Work for them was a social network, but now they sit at home just watching TV. Our society is a lot different than it was 100 years ago, where neighbors would check in on neighbors. Now we just sit in our own houses isolated from the world.
2. Have fun and engage in some new activities. I love these retirement communities where there are so many different clubs that you can join such as a bridge club, play tennis, water aerobics, or a whole list of other activities. If you do not live in a retirement community, look for activities that interest you such as ballroom or salsa dancing, take up golf, or go traveling. There is a great app called Meet Up that has so many different groups available in your area.
3. Learn something new. It is great for your confidence and your brain health. Florida Atlantic University has the Lifelong Learning Center in which they have courses and lectures that people can attend, creating a community of learners.
4. Be creative. You may find a new part of yourself that you never knew existed. Expression through art and music is wonderful for optimal wellness because as we engage in these activities, we are also engaging in mindfulness (being present in the moment), mastery through learning something new, which builds confidence, and opening up ourselves to a different community. People can paint, garden, or learn a new instrument.
5. Keep that body moving. As we get older, balance and flexibility become extremely important, as this can prevent us from falling and breaking a bone. Therefore, walking, stretching, doing yoga, and even engaging in weightlifting can makes us feel better about our overall wellness.
In your experience, what are 3 or 4 things that people wish someone told them before they retired?
1. Understand your finances before you retire. Many people may not understand their retirement plans or how Social Security works. For example, people are required to withdraw a certain money from their retirement accounts each month based on their life expectancy. This lack of understanding can lead to issues with budgeting and stressors relating to their finances. Be informed of just how much money you will be earning each month and budget accordingly.
2. Retiring is a huge life transition, and for those who identify solely as who they are at work are going to find it extremely difficult to adjust to their new identity in retirement. Therefore, it is important that throughout your life that you not only nurture your work role, but also the other roles in your life, together with working on who you are as a person. This will enable the transition into retirement to be a little easier.
3. During our lifespan, we typically find purpose in what we do, and in retirement it is no different. For many, during our life, work, family, and financial freedom become their purpose, but this can be lost in retirement. Therefore, defining what your purpose will be in retirement is important.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Non-Fiction: Anything Brené Brown. She is truly amazing. She talks about shame and vulnerability, which can impact us with our relationships to others. We need to be vulnerable so that it allows us to be open and connected to other people, which can in turn decrease our depression and anxiety.
“Educated” is a recent read that several clients recommended to me and one even sent it in the mail to be sure I read it. It was wonderful to read the raw details of a girl who had multiple traumatic events and managed to rise up and create a new life for herself. Very inspiring!
I am currently reading “What Happened to You,” which has really helped me to understand how our brains process and change because of early childhood trauma, and how those traumas can affect us in adulthood. It is an amazing read and I would suggest it to everyone who has suffered a trauma because it provides positive insight into why we do the things we do. Instead of asking people, “What did you do?” the movement is, “What happened to you?”.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
When doing therapy, my ultimate goal is to empower the people that I encounter so that they can then go out into the world and be the best version of themselves. I feel that mental health issues need to be taken seriously so that people are able to get treatment without the stigma being attached to it, learn positive coping skills, work on forgiveness, be non-judgmental, mindful and grateful, work on goals, and be kind to ourselves and others. I believe that there are times in therapy that we can also laugh, which people do not often associate with therapy. I want therapy to be a place where people know that they can grow, have fun, and brag about their success. And, why not? They put so much hard work into it, we deserve to be celebrated.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“This too shall pass” — Abraham Lincoln
Actually, I first heard it from my mother-in-law and I love this quote because we have little control about what is going to happen in life. Regardless of what happens, it will pass and it will work out one way or the other. We just have to trust in the process.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
The person I would love to meet is Malala Yousafzai for her courage to do something that she felt every girl should be able to do: go to school. True courage is doing something that the majority does not agree with, or that you know there is opposition for engaging in an activity. How many of us would truly have the courage to do that? I totally look up to and respect someone who not only thinks about herself, but speaks up for girls all over the world who are not able to speak for themselves.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Readers can visit Clarity Health Solution’s website, clarityhealthfl.com. Please also follow us on social media on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!