Have you ever dreamed of going on a self-care retreat to relax, nourish your body or indulge in your creative pursuit? You know the type: a yoga retreat in Bali; a meditation retreat in India; a detox weekend in Byron Bay. I certainly have!
Retreats look amazing, but …
Here’s the problem — I don’t know about you, but I gulp when I see the cost of these retreats. A few days of heaven does not come cheaply! Whilst I’m all for investing in ourselves the reality is we can’t all afford the cost of a luxury retreat. Furthermore, even if we can, we often put our own needs way down the priority list and feel guilty spending money on ourselves.
Also, the timing of these retreats never seem to suit me perfectly. Well, I’m excited to tell you that I’ve found a way for you to reap the same benefits as you would on an organised, expensive retreat for a fraction of the cost and at a time that suits you.
My lightbulb moment
Earlier this year I was scrolling past yet another ad for a gorgeous looking retreat (gotta love algorithms) and I had a lightbulb moment – why not create my own self-care retreat, a ‘DIY Retreat‘? I shamelessly took ideas and elements from advertised retreats and mashed them up into my own personalised 7-day beachside writing retreat held at our onsite caravan about two hours drive from where I live.
My self-care retreat was amazing. I did lots of reading and writing; ate simple and nutritious meals but also had yummy treats at local cafes (think fluffy pancakes with whipped butter, grilled bacon and maple syrup); I hit the beach early for some Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP); I explored the beautiful coastline; and I did Yoga in the Park with the wonderful Baxter. Oh and I binge-watched Morning Wars — how good is Jennifer Aniston!.
I’d love to give you some tips to encourage you to plan your own retreat. The best part is it will cost as little or as much as you like and will be at a time that suits you.
Tips for planning your self-care retreat
Set the theme
What do you want to focus on? For me it was writing, to have dedicated time to brainstorm, develop ideas, and draft posts. Second to that was to nourish my body by being active and eating good food. You might want to focus on yoga, or cooking, or cycling, or crafting.
Whatever you always dream of doing more of is a great theme to begin with.
Carve out the time
I love that a DIY self-care retreat can be planned for a time that suits you. To fit in with your work, family and other commitments you might opt for a weekend, a week or two or something in between. You might only have a day – no problems, it’ll be a fabulous day!
Schedule the time in your diary, apply for leave, and explain to your family why it’s so important that you prioritise yourself. You’ll be setting a great example to your loved ones.
Solo or with friends?
Make this decision based on what you prefer, not what you might feel guilty about or think you should do. Are you energised by spending time alone, or does spending time with the girls appeal?
Think about the theme of your retreat and what you want to achieve from it. You’ll know what’s right for you.
Decide on location
I did my retreat in early 2020 pre-lockdown. I’m lucky to have a caravan at a beautiful coastal location not far from where I live which was the perfect place for my retreat. As COVID-19 has changed travel for the foreseeable future, international or even interstate destinations might be out of the question for your retreat for a while. This is a great opportunity to explore places in your hometown or region where you’ve always vowed to spend more time. Plus, it’s a great way to spend your travel dollar.
Depending on your budget you could rent a gorgeous Air BnB cottage, find a retro motel, hire a cabin at a caravan park , go bush with your camping equipment or splash out for a high-end resort stay. You might even choose to have a DIY retreat in your own home! You can have the same nourishing experience regardless of location –– it’s all about the mindset and the planning.
Plan to make the most of each day
I created an Excel spreadsheet to plan my retreat. If you’re thinking this sounds extreme, you’re right (I’ve also been known to create daily itineraries for family holidays)! So if you’re someone who prefers to take it as it comes then ignore this step. This is the beauty of a DIY self-care retreat — there’s as much or as little structure as you like!
- I made a list of Zones, or categories, of activites. The Zones were: Dynamic; Vitalising; Chill; and Energetic.
- I made a column for each Zone and listed activites related to that Zone. For example, under Dynamic I listed Researching and Writing; for Energetic I listed Hiking and Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP).
- I had a separate tab (page) with ideas for the Zone activities. So, next to Writing in the Dynamic zone I listed the blog posts I intended to write.
- Each day between breakfast and dinner was broken into time slots of 90 minutes. These time slots were colour-coded (of course they were!) according to their Zone.
- I also had tabs for a Packing List, a Journal where I recorded reflections of each day, and Local Attractions with details of places in the area I wanted to visit.
Each day I’d chose from the Zone Activities list and used the allocated Zone time to focus on it. I told you it was extreme!
Hang out the Do Not Disturb sign
Plan your retreat as if you were planning a holiday or an event for your loved ones. Write lists, make bookings, plan meals, buy the new swimsuit or nail polish or whatever you’ve been wanting to spoil yourself with. This is all about you!
Do what you need to do before your retreat so you can really focus on your well-being, your fun and your chill out time.
Self-care is not selfish
This is all-out self-care we’re talking about here, and you need it and deserve it. It’s been a difficult year and there’s no better time to put yourself first and indulge in doing what makes your heart sing.
I hope I’ve encouraged you to think about planning your own self-care retreat. Your retreat might look nothing like mine and nothing like the ones advertised, but it will be exactly right for you.
By putting your well-being first you’ll feel renewed, refreshed and in turn better equipped to share your love, time and energy with others. If you need any more convincing, Oprah herself talks about the importance of self care here.
I look forward to hearing about your self-care retreat.