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Why create your own self-care wellness retreat and how to do it?


Even if you feel robust and well in terms of your physical, mental and social health, it’s important to not take your strength for granted. As the summer holidays approach, have you included yourself and self-care in your plans?

You may feel that prioritising ‘you’ and your needs is selfish or not important. Think again. Self-care = caring for others, in other words, put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others or you won’t be able to care for others. This isn’t a metaphor. It’s an analogy taken from the experience you have when you get on a plane and it’s as powerful as it is blunt.  If you think this is an exaggeration or not relevant to you, watch this 10-minute video and think again. 


Why you should put your oxygen mask on first…

What is a self-care wellness retreat?

In a nutshell, a retreat is essentially time away from your everyday life, responsibilities and activities. It creates the conditions for you to take stock and recharge. It’s for a specific amount of time in a specific location. A self-care wellness retreat has your self-care as the primary purpose which is the most critical component of your wellness. It’s an opportunity to care for your self-relationship and recharge your physical, mental and social health.  You may even discover something new about yourself.  

How to have a self-care wellness retreat at home?

The timing of a self-care retreat

First thing to do is to actually decide on how long you would like your retreat to be and when you’re going to have it.  Then put it in your diary and let people know that you’re going to be unavailable during this time. If this is your first retreat, start with a day.  You’d be surprised at how beneficial a day’s retreat can be. If you’re more experienced, extend the time to whatever feels helpful, comfortable and practical for you.  

Look at what’s happening before and after the retreat and allow some bumper space on either side to help orientate yourself. Having time to slow down at the beginning and then time to rev up again at the end makes a big difference and means you’re not jolting yourself from one state to the other. 

Pre-wellness retreat communication 

Arrange for others to pick up tasks in your absence and let people know that you’ll be unavailable during this time. Think about whether you want to use this time for digital detox and be completely offline (highly recommended)  or if you want to have a check-in time with messages at some points.  Negotiate with your nearest and dearest to ensure that together you are supporting their needs as much as yours during this time. 

What you need at a wellness retreat

Give some thought to what nourishes you from content, things, and materials. What activities would you like to do? If you like gardening, get some new seeds or tools to enhance that experience. If you like movies, get some new movies or old favourites that you can enjoy.  If you like walking, getting a map of the local area will help you spot new walks. The key thing here is that you give this some thought before your retreat starts so that once you’ve started, you’ve got what you need to feel nourished.  You may want to use your retreat to do a course, like the First Aid for Feelings course on Insight Timer

We often recommend watching Finding Joe which is a film about the Hero’s Journey that we’re all on and that can set you up well as you start your retreat. 

Finding Joe – the movie about The Hero’s Journey and Joseph Campbell who cracked the code.


Stock up on food and supplies beforehand. Meals, snacks and drinks are vital to your self-care and well-being.  Think about this before your retreat starts and consider creating a meal plan for what you’ll have at what time. This means that you’re not putting yourself under pressure to choose in the moment because you’ve already laid out the plan.  Keep some slack though so that you can adjust if what you’ve got planned isn’t what you want when the time comes.  The plan is there to support you, not subjugate you.


Doing your own wellness retreat at home can have its challenges. If there’s clutter, unfinished projects and tasks like laundry, these are likely to tug at you and distract you from your focus. Allocate time to do things like laundry, cleaning etc before your retreat starts.  Resist the urge to set yourself projects during the retreat, things like painting the bathroom or clearing the wardrobe of anything that’s not been used for a while. Have a look around your space and give some attention to what would make it more nourishing for you and make changes beforehand so that when you start your retreat you can relax into it. 


What do you do on a self-care wellness retreat?

A retreat is an opportunity to slow down, relax and check-in with yourself. By creating the conditions where the noise of every day is reduced, you can listen in to your own experience and hear what’s actually going on inside your experience. As always, it can be helpful to look at all three dimensions of your health and well-being:

Physical health

Check-in with your body helps to spot issues before they become severe. Is your digestion struggling? How are your energy levels? Are you being active enough? Or maybe too much? Are there any aches and pains that need checking out? Is your food colourful enough? Are you drinking enough water? How’s your sleep? 

Include activities every day of your retreat to support this dimension. 

Mental health and mood  

It’s also helpful to check in with your thoughts and feelings. Are you getting enough joy in your day or week? What’s your anxiety focusing on? What kind of thought patterns are you doing? What behaviours are you doing? For each of those questions ask: is it helpful? What’s your mood like? Are there feelings, memories or issues weighing on you? Investing time and attention in getting curious about specific feelings, memories or issues can help you process and resolve what’s going on for you. Remember feelings are always information so even if you may not like or understand your experience, remember it’s there for a reason. 

Include activities every day of your retreat to support this dimension. 

Go gently with yourself and bear in mind that some experiences are best addressed with the help of a professional. If this is true for you, making an appointment to take place during your retreat may be helpful.

Social health

Have a look at who you are spending time with. Are they the people/groups/work/activities that nourish you? Are you doing yourself (and them) justice by sharing your time with them? Are you tripping over out-of-date beliefs that you should or shouldn’t be engaged in certain relationships or activities? For each of those questions ask: is it helpful? Looking after your social health in this way is important.

Include time for reflecting on this during your retreat to support this dimension. 

The three dimensions of your health and wellbeing

How do you structure a self-care wellness retreat? 

The keywords to bear in mind when it comes to the structure are consistency and spaciousness. This means that you have a consistent structure or rhythm to your day that’s the same throughout your retreat. When you give your mind and body consistency, it creates predictability and boundary that eases stress and supports ease.  When you include spaciousness you allow enough time so there’s no need to rush or stress, you can simply relax and be. 

Create a home retreat schedule. Think of your day in three segments, morning, afternoon and evening.  It can be helpful to think of these segments as punctuated by mealtimes, creating a steady rhythm to your day.   

You can give each segment a focus activity in terms of whether it’s inside or outside, reflective or active, relaxing or vigorous. For example, if you’ve given yourself a morning focus of creativity then each day you’d do something creative in the morning.  If you’ve given yourself the afternoon focus of relaxing you’d ensure you have an afternoon rest each day. 

Re-entering everyday life

Just like it takes time to slow down, it takes time to speed up again and re-enter the world of your everyday life. Your energy and speed aren’t like an on/off switch but rather like the engine in a car where it takes time to go up and down the gears.

Bear this in mind whenever you are coming out of any kind of social seclusion. We referred to this as Social Atrophy and if this is something you’d like to understand better here’s the link to that blog

Whatever your experience, we’d love to hear from you! You can get in touch via email or connect with us on Facebook or Instagram, our social links are at the top of the page and below.


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Go gently, hold steady, stay the course.

All the best, Thor

Thor and Denny the dog

Thor and Denny the dog