Daily cooked meals, long walks in nature, massage and body care, gentle exercise, scrubs, facials, solitude and serenity. When you think of a retreat these are some of the images that might come to mind, a haven escape where golden gods and goddess tend to your needs while you opt out of life for a week and recharge.
Retreats as an act of self-care have steadily grown in popularity over the last 20 years. What was once a haven for the rich and famous is now a common indulgence for the middle class as the stress of 21st-century life escalates.
However, are all retreats equal and how do you know which one is right for you?
The word retreat actually means to remove yourself and so any retreat that you choose will to a degree serve its purpose – even if it is only an hour in a bathtub! Going to a retreat for many people is an opportunity to step away from the everyday grind and regroup. Offering space and opportunity to detox, freshen and reinvigorate the spirit, the popular wellness retreats of today are a great “recharge” for many stressed-out executives. They are a “break” from the norm, not a redirect.
A Health Retreat is actually something different. Again, a health retreat is an opportunity to regroup, however, unlike the wellness retreat which works on generalised theories of good health (which are perfect for the right circumstance and client), a health retreat is not only about “feeling better” in the short-term they are about “getting better” for the long-term.
Health retreats offer a tailored and integrated approach to support the individual to heal across all aspects of the self. One of the key differences from a wellness retreat is the tailored programs that are delivered based on pathological and psychological diagnostic testing. At a health retreat, the objective is to identify all of the contributing factors to a person’s symptoms and provide therapy, nutrition, movement and integrative healing to address the root cause of the problem.
Working on a premise of immersion and long-term aftercare support, the Health Retreat model aims to create sustainable solutions that the individual can and will implement at home. This is not about detoxing to "re-tox," it is about detoxing, discovering and dismantling the current way of life for the individual so to rebuild and regain optimum health.
To retreat is to allow yourself the space to learn. It is not selfish. It is not vain.
For many individuals suffering from serious conditions and battling serious symptoms, a comprehensive “retreat” in a tailored program will provide them with the support they need to deduct, reduce and improve their state of being. It is about deep diving into what is happening and why.
Often people will spend year after year attending a wellness retreat – a timeout to detox before coming back to the hectic lifestyle they needed a break from. It is not until a serious crisis occurs that they realise that - unless something changes in every day life - then they will continue to be challenged and it is then that they look for something more from a private program.
Ideally, if people are looking for a timeout because they are stressed, run down or burnt out it would be best if they attended a health retreat which worked with them one on one to tailor a sustainable lifestyle solution that could then be implemented at home.
It is what happens every day that makes the difference.
Regardless of where a person starts being able to admit that change is needed and permit yourself to take time to regroup and redirect is positive. So next time you “retreat” whether it is at home, away on a beach for a week of wellness, or in a deep-dive whole life health program be sure to go with an open mind, willing to learn about yourself and lean into your vulnerability. It is never as scary as you think, and in this place is the power to create change.