Happy Spring….. finally!
I adore Spring. I love the change in weather, the cleansing, the vibrancy of colours, the change in energy and the lighter days. It is the perfect time to come out from hibernation of what feels like a very long winter and have a bit of an MOT.
Retreats are exceedingly growing in popularity. But what is it makes them so appealing? Are we more pressured and needed more time for respite, or are we finally getting that work-life elusive balance right?
No doubt you’ve been on holiday where you feel relaxed, come back home, into your routine, back to work and within a few days it already feels like you haven’t even had a holiday. But there’s something different about attending a retreat that has a long-lasting impact on so many people.
I try to take several retreats each year. I realised it is vital for self-preservation, especially when running my own business and doing advocacy work to support others. The time away gives me clarity and ALWAYS inspires creativity and new ideas. Without space for creativity, we become stagnant. Without pause, we burnout. Even corporations are realising the value of retreats and are regularly booking their staff onto them. But I wonder why it’s taken us so long to catch on, retreats are not a new phenomenon, many spiritual communities (including Buddhism) have embedded retreats as a vital part of their culture for centuries.
I like to call them mini-breaks for the mind-body and soul, but how do you know if a retreat is right for you? I’ve put together a few tips to help you decide.
You want a mini-break
An international retreat over a few days or more, provides the opportunity, to completely switch off, without feeling anxious about being away from responsibilities for too long. Retreats provide an opportunity to step outside of your usual environment, routine and in turn, distractions; which helps to better focus, intensively. Travel and new environments naturally encourage you to be more mindful and we know that sunshine has a positive impact on our mental wellbeing. Taking part in a retreat over a few days internationally as opposed to a one day workshop makes it easier and far more likely that you will be able to let go of expectations and inhibitions and fully immerse yourself and start to embody the long-term changes you want to make in your life.
You want real ‘me time’
You simply want to hit the pause button.
Perhaps you want to relax, reduce stress and pressure, process a bereavement or life event, or do some soul-searching. Retreats are notoriously great to experience on your own, or equally with someone important to you. With a welcoming and intimate environment, a careful balance of classes / activities and free time, it provides the opportunity to re-connect with yourself and also connect with like-minded people; the universality of shared experience can be very healing and also inspiring.
You’re in a cycle of burnout
We’re finding it increasingly difficult to switch off and with 24/7 access to technology there is a real daily challenge to ‘keep going’ and keep up with peers and it is negatively affecting your wellbeing. Retreats can give you full permission and often force you to switch off (Literally! switch your phone and laptop off!) without feeling guilty and hit the re-set button before you end up in a permanent state of ‘busy-ness’ and in an unhelpful cycle of ill-health.
You enjoy travelling and trying something new
What better way to experience a retreat than to tie in a love for travel to one of your favourite destinations! As well as the obvious respite, one of the main benefits of attending an international retreat is to step outside of your comfort zone to try something new. So many of us get stuck where we feel comfortable and safe – but it is trying something new that helps us grow!
You can enjoy immersing yourself in new food, new exercise classes, interesting cultures, nature and experiences. For many, it is easier to do, and to ‘let go’ in an environment that is not their own. New surroundings encourage us to be more mindful and present. Trying something new is also scientifically proven to boost your own wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence. Win win.
You want to trigger a lifestyle change
You’ve realised you deserve more than what you are settling for.
Retreats can have a habit of being the catalyst for pretty epic lifestyle changes. From helping you learn to better implement regular wellness and self-care, to overcoming challenge and boosting confidence, smashing goals and learning to live with more peace of mind and welcome more happiness. Being in a supportive environment with like-minded people, uninterrupted time to focus on you, your needs and your goals, is priceless. The time for respite and reflection often leaves people feeling awakened, rejuvenated and inspired to make long-lasting change. So much so, it often kick starts you into changing our habits, mindset, behaviours and sometimes even careers, not just at the retreat, but far beyond into our day-to-day lives.
Treat yourself this Easter. Have wonderful Easter weekend and spring break.