Has social distancing, emotional stress, and learning to cope with the reality of a pandemic taken a toll on your wellbeing? Would you rather swap all those worries for a week-long get-away with chef-prepared meals, yoga sessions, and afternoons spent gratitude journaling? Well, jet-setting to a faraway destination might not be an option right now, but creating a restorative experience for yourself at home can help you reap some of the benefits a wellness retreat offers.
Coping with Coronavirus
Now, more than ever, we’re looking at our daily routines and realizing just how much we DON’T prioritize ourselves. We try to separate our work life from our home life and pretend we can balance everything…until we can’t. This is called Super Woman Syndrome, and the five vital elements necessary for health are highly susceptible to imbalance as a result. Watch the video to find out how Super Woman Syndrome is affecting you.
Stress has been at an all-time high for many of us over the past month, and normal routines have been thrust into chaos with stay-at-home directives, feelings of isolation, or financial worries. Unfortunately, when stress becomes chronic or lasts longer than it should, it begins to take a toll on the health of your brain and body.
Gut dysbiosis, immune dysfunction, and cardiovascular diseases all have a link to chronic, long-term stress. It can also manifest in physical symptoms at the time, such as upset stomach or fatigue (1).
Self-Care During a Pandemic
Our over-stressed, hyper-connected, and booked-solid schedules have become unsustainable in the current environment–plus, not friendly at all to optimal immune function!
Most of us didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to handle the immense amount of uncertainty COVID-19 causes. As a result of the outbreak, we may not have several of our ordinary coping mechanisms available to us–getting a coffee, meeting with a friend, or attending yoga, for example.
Because our routines have been turned topsy-turvy, self-care suffers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t adapt. If this week has been rough on you, consider bringing some creativity to caring for your mental and physical health at home.
Getaway-at-Home Personal Retreat
Timing and scheduling conflicts are possibly the biggest barriers between you and time spent actively relaxing.
To that end, make a point to schedule a personal day. Take a big red pen, circle the date on your calendar during which you’d like to host your personal retreat, and plan accordingly. It’s easy to talk about wanting more time for self-care activities, but if we don’t MAKE time for it in our schedules, it will always be deprioritized in favor of more pressing matters.
Truthfully, if you don’t make time for health, you’ll be forced to make time for illness later.
Routines are a little crazy right now. You’re adapting and learning how to create a new schedule that works for you and your family. Guaranteed personal time isn’t always dependable, but there ARE some steps you can take if you have kids at home, to help keep them occupied for a while.
You can be as creative in this area as you need. Maybe little ones spend some quality time with your significant other, work on crafts or schoolwork (or a good, long movie).
There are also parts of a personal wellness day little ones can be a part of! See what quality time you can incorporate for other members of your family, like making a meal, or joining in a workout!
When you attend a wellness retreat, a careful and extensive amount of planning has gone into cultivating your experience. And while you may not have an event coordinator or personal chef at your disposal, you can curate your own retreat with a simple agenda.
Decide what you’d like to focus on, whether it’s nutrition, movement, meditation–or a little bit of everything.
Use ideas in this article to get you started, and create a loose schedule in addition to listing items you need, or other things to remember.
Then, prepare your space. Clean and declutter the area you’ll be using, and consider creating a relaxing atmosphere.
Light candles, fill a diffuser with uplifting essential oils like peppermint or citrus scents. Clear a place to meditate that is comfortable, cool, and quiet.
Whatever space you choose should be conducive to mindful restoration and relaxation.
Your at-home retreat doesn’t have to be exercise focused if you so choose, but including a movement component is a great idea for several reasons. Mobility exercises promote circulation of blood to the brain and muscles, improve digestion, and even support immune health by moving lymph fluid (2).
Yoga is a one way to incorporate restorative movement, but also feel free to include HIIT, kickboxing, or a stationary bike as part of your movement routine.
Sign yourself up (virtually) for whatever workout you’ve been interested in trying out. And for the best restorative yoga during your personal retreat–start with yoga nidra, which offers a guided, deep relaxation, or hatha yoga, which is beginner-friendly and focuses on form and breathing.
We look at our phones an average of 52 times per day, and you’d think this number would decrease as we take a vacation or book a retreat, but one study found we actually check our phones more–jumping up to 300 times per day (3).
Most retreats have a strongly suggested, if not mandatory, recommendation to put down your digital devices, and there are very good reasons for this.
When we scroll through social media (even emails), we’re communicating with the pleasure centers of the brain. As each new piece of information prompts the release of dopamine from the brain, we become dependent on entertaining content–the same mechanism as addiction (4). Without realizing, our brain is searching for the next stimulation of dopamine, and that’s what keeps us scrolling.
In terms of sleep, exposure to blue light from any device can inhibit the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. For the majority of people who struggle with falling asleep at night, urge yourself to practice digital discipline in the evening hours. Either put your devices down or make sure to turn on night mode to shift the screen to a more orange hue.
For purposes of your personal retreat at home, use your phone if you’re following a workout or other prompts, but remain present in the moment by using as minimal technology as possible.
Stress has some major impacts on the body, and not just in an emotional capacity. Chronic stress can actually lead to atrophy of brain mass–which spells trouble for long-term health and cognition (5).
For those of you who are meditation skeptics, or think you don’t have time, after committing to a meditation practice for several weeks, you mind find that you don’t have time NOT to meditate. Meditation, whether performed over weeks or years, supports neuroplasticity, and resilience to stress (6).
Neuroplasticity is the ability of your brain to adapt and change over your lifetime. For better mental clarity, and the ability to stay focused during difficult times–meditate.
Meditation for Beginners
- Get settled, and plan to be still for several moments.
- Connect with your breath. Take 10 breaths deeply in, filling your chest and belly. Slowly exhale, feeling your diaphragn contract and air move out of your body.
- Remain present. After you’ve connected with your breathing, take note of where your attention goes in your body, and explore why you’re focusing there. Focus on only the present moment.
If your mind wanders, gently steer your focus back to your breath. In the beginning, you might have to do this half a dozen times or more.
That’s why meditation is a practice.
During the day, our minds are mostly on autopilot–thinking of yesterday, the past, other people, worries, responsibilities, and definitely not being in the present moment. We’re not comfortable like this and it creates a lot of distraction. Meditation helps us practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness helps us to ground our mental acrobatics and focus only on the present moment, which helps us build a healthier relationship with our mental health, and therefore with other people as well.
Deepen Meditation Practice
Intention. For those who’ve been cultivating a meditation practice for some time, don’t put your mindfulness on autopilot. What’s the purpose of your meditation today?
Is it to reduce stress, strengthen focus, or maybe build emotional resilience?
Meditation with the Sunrise. Harmonizing with nature is a great way to take your meditation practice to a deeper level. Energy flows freely, and focus is at its highest.
Seek Out Nature
Nature absorbs negative energy, and many of us have become disconnected from our natural roots.
If you have a lesser traveled trail or hike near you and are not under a stay at home order, this can be a good time for solo hiking. This is NOT a time to visit highly trafficked tourist spots or places where you’ll encounter many people. Use your discretion here.
Alternatively, the goal is to get some fresh air and sunlight. And we can do this within the comforts of home if necessary. Seeing natural sunlight upon waking helps to reset circadian rhythms, and prompt the body to start producing wakefulness hormones. This can make falling asleep later that night easier if your circadian rhythm is functioning normally overall.
If you have a sunlit window in the early morning, perform your meditation there, stretching, or light yoga. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, focus on your breath, or spend time journaling.
Organic, farm-to-fork, or sustainably farmed are the norm for any wellness retreat, and you can aim for the same at home! Set aside time to prepare nourishing food that will fuel your body to accomplish your goals today–energy, clarity, and relaxation.
Your meals today should be focused on clean vegetables, quality protein, healthy fats–and low in sugar. To get you started, here are some of my easy, nourishing (and family-friendly!) breakfasts.
Later in the day, incorporate greens (either in a big salad, or lightly sauteed with coconut or olive oil), and simple proteins like chicken or fish.
Bring the Spa to You
No spa? No problem! You have all the tools you need at home for glowing skin and relaxation.
Essential oil bath
Add essential oils of lavender, peppermind, grapefruit, or lemon or an invigorating soak. As a bonus, if you have epsom salts, don’t be shy with adding a liberal amount of those quenching minerals. They’ll help your skin to stay hydrated, and help cells get the right balance of electrolytes they need.
Take a look at the beauty benefits of epsom salts here!
Clarifying masks are super easy to create at home, using ingredients in your kitchen or pantry.
- Epsom salt mask
- Pinch of epsom salt
- 1 egg white
Beat ingredients together with whisk or mixer, apply to face for 7-10 minutes, and rinse with warm water.
- Balancing turmeric mask
- 2 teaspoons kefir or yogurt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon honey
Combine ingredients until smooth. Apply to face for approx. 30 minutes, then rinse clean.
Check out DIY spring beauty regimens right here!
Gratitude Journaling and Goal-Setting
One thing you’ll want to make priority during your at-home wellness retreat is some time for active introspection. You want to use this time to check in with the goals you’ve set recently, and your progress this year.
Goals you’d like to accomplish this month, this year, or even today. Then, write down why these goals are important to you and what they mean for your life. Without bringing the ‘why’ to your conscious attention, goals easily fall by the wayside.
Things you’re grateful for. In times of stress, we forget what we’ve accomplished, and how much we’ve grown as people. We have the capacity for love, vulnerability, strength, and growth–and writing down how these have helped accomplish difficult things in our life help keep us grounded and grateful.
Do you have a friend who could benefit from a retreat-at-home day as well? This is a great time to participate in a little group therapy by sharing goals, worries, and gratitude with one another.
We might all be feeling overwhelmed and spread thin at the moment, and coming together (even if over Skype or Facetime) to have deeper conversations helps us weather any storm with much more grace than if we’re navigating it solo.
If you’re not part of the Taz Tribe, I urge you to be a part of the community and support we’ve built there–as I share my recommendations with you daily for how to handle some of these bigger issues we’re facing with physical and mental health, family, and COVID-19 as well.