Have your own health retreat at home

This advice column was written for www.stuff.co.nz, published 1 January 2018

I have had a very hectic year. I have been focused on getting a promotion at work and with the long hours and networking events, I haven’t had much time for exercise. I have been drinking too much, and eating hot chips. Lots of my girlfriends are kicking off the year with health retreats in Bali, but I can’t really afford to this. How can I get the same restart benefits without spending a fortune or even leaving my home in NZ?

Health, wellbeing and yoga retreats are really taking off all over the world as people are finding it more difficult to get away from day-to-day stress. We can all do with a fancy retreat each year, but this isn’t realistic for most of us.

An alternative is to plan your own retreat at home, whether it’s for a weekend, a day, or an afternoon, a little self-care can go a long way and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Some tips to get you started:

Planning: Schedule a time and make necessary arrangements – babysitters, leave from work, getting others out of the house. Choosing a weekday can be good as most people have daily routines, leaving you uninterrupted. If you’re retreating at home, make sure your environment is the most comfortable it can be beforehand. Sometimes those chores you’ve been putting off will call out and before you know it, your self-care day is gone in a cleaning frenzy. If budget allows, consider a hotel or Airbnb a short distance away so you can be away from the distractions of home.

Focus: What are you wanting to achieve on your retreat?  Is it about relaxing and restoring energy?  Do you want to be creative and productive? Do you want to reflect and plan how to make life better moving forward?

Activities: Choose activities according to your focus, interest and enjoyment and be mindful not to plan too many.

Food: Plan what you’ll eat on your retreat and prepare. You might need to shop beforehand to make sure you have everything you need to create healthy nourishing meals, decide to go out or organise to have your meals outsourced.

Here’s some activity ideas for your at-home retreat:

Moderate cost:

Take a local yoga class, or book a one on one session with your favourite instructor

Book a massage, facial, beauty treatment or float tank experience

Low cost:

Read an inspiring book with your favourite cup of herbal tea

Make your own face mask:

  • ½ avocado mashed with 2 tablespoons of honey for all skin types (leave on for 20min+)
  • 1 banana mashed with 1 tablespoon of honey for dry skin (leave on for 10-15min)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey with ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg for oil/normal skin (leave on for 20min)

Soak in the bath with some Epsom salts and a few drops of your favourite essential oils

Get an attractive journal to write in

No cost:

Meditation – download a meditation app on your phone, or search YouTube for a guided meditation that suits you – there’s lots available that range from a few minutes to a few hours and there’s sure to be one that catches your attention

Yoga – for free yoga at home, check out Yoga with Adriene on YouTube

Digital detox – limit phone, email and social media use

Take a walk – on the beach, amongst the trees, up a hill. In New Zealand we’re lucky to have easy access to these from everywhere.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to take time out and reenergise yourself, it just takes a bit of planning and organisation and you can have a wellness retreat experience at home.