Everyday life leaves us all quite stressed – commuting, anyone? – and a wellness retreat is the perfect way to relax, recharge and refocus. But even if you’re not among those who have got the time or money to for a fancy retreat (we’re with you on that one!), you can create your very own deluxe pampering experience at home. All you need is a free weekend plus a few essentials to help get the most out of your downtime.
A retreat is the ideal opportunity to switch off from the world and focus on yourself. It will leave you feeling calmer, happier and refreshed, and probably more creative, too – perfect if you’ve been feeling drained and lacking in inspiration.
Home Wellness Retreat Essentials
Prepare for your retreat by booking your chosen time out of your diary. Tell friends and family your plans so that they know not to disturb you unless it’s urgent. Once you’ve picked a date, stick to it – it will give you something to look forward to.
Make sure you stay organised by having everything you need to hand. Get all your housework and laundry out of the way and go food shopping the day before so you have lots of fresh, nourishing ingredients available. Other things you might like to gather ready for your retreat include:
- Yoga mat and accessories
- Clean blankets and towels
- Essential oils and diffuser
- Soy candles
- Journal, notebooks and pens
- Your favourite skincare and body care products
- A selection of herbal teas
- A playlist of relaxing music
- Books and magazines
To ensure a cosy and relaxing environment, make sure the temperature of your house is just right. Create a calming atmosphere with fairy lights and candles, and use essential oils in a diffuser to scent the air and help boost your well-being. You could use lavender, mandarin, frankincense or geranium for relaxation; lemongrass, ginger, eucalyptus or lime for energising; or basil, grapefruit or lemon for focus and clarity. Play peaceful background music, or if you prefer, bask in soothing silence. Even if you haven’t planned a total digital detox, it’s a good idea to limit your phone and Internet usage during your retreat. Studies have suggested that smartphone addiction has negative effects on mental health and well-being, including increased stress levels, anxiety and depression.
Food and Drink
A wellness retreat is all about nourishing your body and mind, and one of the best ways to do this is to stick to wholesome, unprocessed foods. If those words conjure up images of boring salads in your mind, then think again – there are so many easy vegan recipes that make healthy eating exciting and fun. If you don’t fancy cooking during your retreat, batch cook some delicious meals beforehand so you can just heat them up when needed. Keep tasty snacks such as fresh fruit, coconut yoghurt, homemade flapjack and nuts and seeds to hand if you get hungry between meals. For drinks, keep hydrated with plenty of water, and try to avoid caffeine. Herbal teas are ideal; try chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass, fennel or ginger to boost your digestion. Fresh smoothies made with a selection of fruits and coconut milk are also a good option.
How you run your retreat is up to you – you could choose to create a schedule of activities or you might prefer to just go with the flow and do what you want, when you want. Here are some suggestions to make your day even more indulgent:
Whether you’re an experienced yogi or are completely new to the ancient practice, including some yoga in your retreat will help to reduce stress and anxiety, increase positivity, improve posture and much more.
“Yoga works to relieve tension and reduce stress in both the body and the mind, and it can make you more resilient when those recurring stress triggers pop up,” says yoga teacher Anna Coventry. “While yoga in general seems to have a calming influence, there are certain yoga poses that have a super awesome ability to help us let go of tension and stress.” Anna recommends Eagle Pose (Garudasana), Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana) Variation and Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana).
Meditation helps you to completely switch off your mind and eliminate negative thoughts, allowing for a greater sense of happiness. There are so many benefits of regular meditation, including reduced stress, anxiety and depression; improved wellbeing; greater immunity; increased mental strength and focus and lower blood pressure. There are lots of powerful meditations on YouTube or apps like Headspace. You can deepen your meditation practice by burning essential oils like frankincense, sandalwood or lavender, or by placing crystals on and around your body to help open and balance the chakras.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment, paying more attention to your thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you. Practising mindfulness can have a positive effect on our mental wellbeing. “Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively,” says Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. “Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better.”
Sensation is an important part of mindfulness – taking the time to notice how things feel, smell, look, taste and sound is something we often take for granted. Reconnecting with our senses allows for deeper appreciation and gratitude for the things in our lives. Try some simple mindfulness exercises to balance your mind and body.
Journaling is a great way to improve your mental health – it can be used to process your thoughts and feelings, set and review goals, make plans and express your creativity. There are many surprising benefits of keeping a journal; you’re more likely to achieve your goals, it gives your self-confidence a boost and it can become a healing process – the release of emotions can reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep patterns. There’s no right or wrong way to keep a journal, but if you need some inspiration, check out some of our journaling ideas.
You don’t have to stay confined to your house for the duration of your retreat; as long as it’s somewhere that will complement the other activities, you are allowed to venture out of the door! An ideal place to visit is somewhere peaceful in nature, such as woodland, a beach or a quiet open park. Enjoy the fresh air and the sights and sounds that you encounter. Walking in nature is the ideal place to practise mindfulness – instead of speed walking, keep the pace fairly slow and use the time to really notice everything around you: how the ground feels beneath your feet, the warmth of the sun on your face and the different birds singing.
Nothing is more relaxing than unwinding with a spa treatment such as a soothing massage or calming facial. You can have fun mixing your own natural beauty remedies and using your favourite products to treat yourself to a bit of pampering – check out our ideas for home spa treatments. If you’d find it more relaxing to have a professional carry out your treatments, why not pop out to a nearby spa or have a therapist come to your home? A warm bath is also a great way to relax and will really complement your pamper routine.
Candle photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash. All other photos from Pixabay.