Have you ever experienced a wellness retreat? An opportunity or chance to really focus on your personal health and well-being? It sounds indulgent but can be a life-changing strategy in your wellness toolbox.
Often, the journey to wellness is confusing and overwhelming. I hear this from patients all the time. Or, they have the information but don’t know how to put it all together.
Well, we can return to the principles that help us thrive, and find our own personal prescription to health and wellness by participating in a health retreat. The goal is to learn strategies that you can carry with you back home, turn into daily habits, that then change your life- and your health.
Read on to find out why so many successful people have leveraged health retreats to not only recharge their batteries but find answers to challenges to help them find success.
What Happens on a Health Retreat?
When you decide to go on a wellness retreat, you’re making a commitment to intentionally focus on your well-being, and there really isn’t a more perfect time to do that.
In one study in 2017, attendees of a residential health retreat experienced significant improvements in their physical and physiological health. The most exciting statistic is that six weeks later–these benefits were still present (1).
Your health retreat will depend on the type of activities scheduled, and any optional ones available that allow you to make the experience your own. Some offer added spa treatments, excursions, or educational opportunities so you can tailor your time spent.
So while some people prefer to hang out in front of the TV at home and claim it’s “relaxation”, we know we need to feed our minds, bodies, and souls in a better way.
So how can we make sure we’re using our relaxation time in the best way possible?
What Kind of Health Retreat Is Right for Me?
There are all kinds of retreats you can participate in. Some focus on helping you sleep better, or hormone balance. Others are exercise and nutrition-focused, helping you to learn and create new healthy habits.
A lot of retreats are taught by experts in that field, so one thing you can do is consider who you’d like to be led by, or whose voice and message you trust. If you have one, or a few different health concerns you’re working on, get to know holistic leaders in that field to help you decide what’s right for you.
Some retreats are small (10-20 people), and some are quite large–numbering in the hundreds. Both kinds can be very beneficial and offer the same benefits of a whole-body approach to proactive wellness.
Can I Go on a Retreat Alone?
The resounding answer to whether you can attend a retreat by yourself: YES. While it might seem odd to go on a holiday by yourself, attending a health retreat solo is almost recommended. Because no matter what kind of retreat you’re on, one goal they all share is to be able to do some self-reflection and introspection, and this can usually be much easier accomplished if you don’t have tethers to your home life distracting you.
But to each their own. This will be a different decision for every person, and every retreat. Can you attend with your friends? Absolutely. Can you go alone and meet some wonderfully like-minded people? You bet.
There’s just about a retreat for every aspect of our health–and you won’t hear any complaints about that. No one can take charge of your health like YOU can, and the right retreat is worth its weight in gold for short- and long-term health benefits.
Benefits of a Health Retreat
Dozens of recent studies have confirmed that our dependence upon all of our various devices contributes to a deterioration in our physiological and mental health (2). Increased smartphone use is associated with difficulty managing mood, poor sleep, and increased rates of anxiety and depression (3)(4).
If that’s not enough to take some mandatory time away from your devices, I don’t know what is!
Many retreats strongly recommend (if it’s not an actual requirement) that you step away from your laptop or phone to improve your natural circadian rhythm (biological sleep cycle) and decrease distraction. This gives you the opportunity to focus on the tasks at hand, and prioritize getting the most out of your days.
On any health retreat, you can expect a menu stocked with nutritious offerings to reward your body with the fuel it needs. You’ll most likely learn about new ways to eat healthier at home and while traveling, and how to properly eat for your specific body composition and metabolic needs.
Some retreats may have a certain nutrition focus, like plant-based, detox, or even fasting during a portion of the time. Probably don’t expect to have access to an anytime unlimited buffet of comfort foods and indulgences.
Does this mean you’ll be left feeling unsatisfied? Rest assured, definitely not. Regardless of any diet trend, eating during a health or wellness retreat will reflect your purpose there. You want to aim to have food that will nourish your body and mind to feel your best.
If getting enough exercise is something you struggle within your daily life due to time constraints or lack of motivation, prioritizing movement during a wellness retreat will be a welcomed change for you!
Because health or wellness retreats aim to benefit both mind and body, you should have plenty of opportunities for activity, whether it’s something recreational like hiking or swimming, or something more structured like yoga or strength training led by an instructor.
One big benefit is that you’ll often have access to certified trainers or instructors that you can learn from to improve your form, your routine, or learn how to adapt your exercise to be more consistent once you get back home.
Rekindle Your Motivation & Inspiration
Our creative brain is deeply hindered by stress. Stress from little things, big things, and chronic stress. It’s also the part of our brain that allows us to feel motivated, inspired, and hopeful about life (5).
Health retreats offer us a chance to devote time to ourselves to reveal our strengths and unravel the weaknesses that may plague us at home. Many health retreats set aside time for meditation (guided or solo), journaling, and self-discovery exercises.
Laying a framework for how to cope with emotional triggers is vital to being a healthy spouse, parent, and friend–and simply being happy in your own skin. Reconnecting with who you are at your core, away from the demands and expectations of daily life, provides clarity for healthy coping mechanisms you can carry with you always.
A renewed sense of gratitude and inspiration for our lives may well be the most influential benefit of any wellness retreat.
Find Your Tribe
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who share similar goals and feelings is one of the most impactful things you can do for your health. Humans are incredibly social animals (yes, even self-proclaimed introverts need connection, too!). At a health retreat, you might find yourself in group conversation discussing goals, or you may spark a connection one-on-one that helps you work through your challenges and see things from a different perspective.
There’s really no limit on what quality connection with other people can do to strengthen our resilience.
Attending a health retreat where other people are working the same things you are is a great way to foster connections you can keep long after you return home. Feeling heard and understood by a circle of peers who just “get” you gives you not only confidence, but a supportive network of people to return to when you feel vulnerable or not your best. A healthy tribe will celebrate your wins with you, and provide a shoulder when you’re feeling down.
Break Unhealthy Habits & Create Healthy Ones
Maybe you’re looking to quit smoking, develop better stress management, or simply take your overall well-being to the next level.
Whether your health goal is big or small, removing yourself from your regular daily routine gives you the opportunity to incorporate the right behavior change to meet your goals–plus the focus of the retreat will give you the tools to do so too!
Wellness and health retreats support the fundamentals that every person needs to thrive–and this is often something we struggle within our normal routine. We’re shuttling kids, meeting deadlines, keeping track of the bills, and making it to meetings on time. With busy schedules, it’s hard–if not sometimes impossible–to prioritize long-term health and build the healthy skills that help us cope with our busy lives.
Health retreats provide the foundations of healthy habits to help you thrive when you return home.
While we intend for the average vacation to be relaxing, the reality is most leisure trips fall way short of actively recharging our batteries.
Health retreats build meditation and other restorative practices into their structure to make relaxation an intentional activity.
This serves two purposes: to allow your body to rest and recover from stress, AND to allow you to be receptive to the education and teachings you’ll receive at the retreat itself.
With a busy, stressed-out brain and body, you’re much less likely to retain information and have the capability to do the kind of healing that a health retreat intends.
If you have the opportunity to join a health retreat this year, don’t discount it as an ordinary vacation. Self-care isn’t indulgence–it’s a necessary part of our mental, physical, and emotional health that our modern lives have made it very difficult to prioritize.
You might just find that a health retreat is a restorative solution to our ultra-connected world and that you need to incorporate one way more often than you already do!
What kind of health retreat do you feel like your life needs? A Detox Destination? An exercise and fitness focus?
Share this post with someone who needs to prioritize their health goals!