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Last Updated on 11/04/2021
Wellness travel is on the rise. This is hardly a big surprise when our lives seem to get increasingly hectic. Now more than ever, people crave the peace and solitude of a far-flung retreat or dream wistfully of yoga on the beach during a commute to work – or at least, I do.
It’s normal to want to take a step back, recharge and reevaluate our lives. But, what if we can’t spend a week on a meditation retreat either for financial, time (or more recently) pandemic reasons? With a bit of preparation, you can easily design your own DIY retreat. In fact, you don’t need to go anywhere to recreate self-care practices from around the world.
In a nutshell, self-care is all about doing things that make you feel good. The best bit? These practices are eco-friendly, easy to do and mostly free (there are some paid but I’ve included a variety). Here’s how to set up a travel-inspired DIY retreat.
Decide on your theme
The first step when designing your own DIY at-home retreat is to think about what kind of retreat you want to have and what you hope to get out of it.
Start with writing down your goals. Do you want to feel relaxed? Rejuvenated? Empowered? Nothing is too big or too small and it will help you stay mindful as you plan out your day.
Once you have your intentions aligned, keep them somewhere handy (preferably in your line of sight) so you can keep referring back to them.
Set the scene
Retreats are often held in scenic and peaceful places. If you’re at home, think creatively about ways you can add something a little special to your surroundings. I like to awaken the senses with my decorations. This might be:
- Lighting a scented candle or incense sticks. I love this Lavender & Orange Natural Soy Candle. It smells absolutely delicious and it’s plastic-free!
- Playing pleasant sounds or calming music that helps you relax and unwind. Theta sounds are a good choice. This video on YouTube is pretty good and it will keep you going for about eight hours so you don’t have to worry about changing it. Otherwise, this zen meditation music is nice and peaceful. One of my favourites is this video of relaxing nature sounds.
- Creating a visually calming space by adding plants, soft coloured throws or yogic symbols. It doesn’t have to be too extravagant, just enough to bring you joy. As you do this, try to keep the space uncluttered and with enough room to move about in. You could even go completely the other way and be as minimalist as possible.
- Adding something nice to touch. This might be a rug that feels good on bare feet – a wool rug is a good shout. Or have a jade facial roller to hand for when you’re having a bit of downtime.
- Including some delicious and healthy snacks to graze on throughout your retreat. If you’re not fasting that is. Check out the meal ideas below to get some inspiration.
Plan your meals
No wellness retreat is complete without mindful eating. You’ll want to plan and prep as much of your meals beforehand so you’re not scrambling to find something to eat and you can stick to your routine.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of quick-fix meals when you’re caught on the spot. Below are some ideas to get you started:
Healthy recipes from around the world
As this retreat guide has a travel theme, you could get a little creative in the kitchen by incorporating some healthy dishes from across the globe. This will not only inspire you to try something different but it will also help you connect with cultures in a fun new way.
This guide has 100 healthy recipes to choose from so you’re bound to find something that takes your fancy.
Eating healthy whole foods is always a good place to start. I found this resource to be particularly useful for recipe inspiration and delicious, all-natural dishes.
Eat the rainbow
Our bodies benefit from a balanced and varied diet. Eating the rainbow, so to speak, is a fun way to incorporate a wide mix of fruit and vegetables for optimum health. This guide tells you everything you need to know about how to do it.
Well yes, water is a given and you should make sure to drink plenty of it to keep yourself hydrated. Why not make it that extra bit more refreshing by adding lemon or cucumber slices or a sprig of mint to your jug?
Tea can be just the right sort of beverage to get you in a relaxing mood. Go for herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile or ginger.
A favourite of mine is this ethically sourced organic ginger mint fusion. It’s a green tea which is packed with antioxidants that boost digestion and your immune system. The teabags are also plastic-free (you’d be surprised how many teabags contain microplastics!).
Plan an itinerary
The next stage in your at-home wellness retreat plan is to think about what you actually want to do. Think back to your theme. Is it mindfulness you want? Filling your day with yoga and meditation would be ideal.
If it’s motivation and feeling good you’re after then maybe something more high-energy like pilates or dance would be better suited.
Now think about the duration. Are you doing it for half a day or a full week? This should help give you some indication of how long you want to spend on each activity. The key is not to feel pressured. Just go with the flow.
Here are a few mini-retreat ideas to consider:
Believed to have originated from India, meditation is an ancient practice that has been adopted in cultures worldwide. It’s a powerful form of mental training that alleviates stress, reduces pain and cardiovascular issues and improves sleeping patterns and productivity.
Journaling is an excellent way to set down your goals and intentions. I like to start the day by writing down three things I’m grateful for, my main goal for the day, my self-care for the day and any other thoughts that come to mind. Art, doodling and colouring in are also fun and creative activities. Get yourself a beautiful and eco-friendly notebook to jot your ideas in like this one.
You can do strengthening exercises like pilates, barre or Tai Chi (a martial art originating from ancient China). Or you could get a sweat on by doing cardio and dance. I find YouTube excellent for this. Remember to include ‘no equipment’ in your search if you don’t have an at-home gym (I don’t).
Yoga is also believed to have originated from ancient India. Studies have shown that it improves strength, balance and flexibility. It relieves pain and stress, benefits heart health and helps you sleep better. You could join a live Zoom class, but if you want to go at your own pace I like Yoga With Adriene.
By this, I mean read mindfully. Read something that makes you happy or a self-improvement book. Right now, I’m enjoying The Source: Open Your Mind Change Your Life by Dr Tara Swart. This excellent book teaches you how to harness the power of your mind to get what you want. A great choice if you want to feel more empowered!
Discover some of my favourite responsible travel books here.
First coined in Japan in the 1980s, forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku, as it’s officially called, is all about soaking up the atmosphere of the trees. You’re encouraged to put down all electronic devices and simply wander among the trees, allowing your senses to guide you. It has an amazing amount of health benefits which you can find out more about here.
The World Happiness Report identified Denmark as one of the happiest countries in the world. One such secret to their happiness can be attributed to hygge (pronounced ‘hyoo-guh). Hygge is a quality of cosiness and comfort which inspires feelings of contentment or wellbeing. A few ways to bring hygge into your life would be to get under some blankets, make a hearty soup, enjoy a cup of tea and surround yourself with friends and family (over Zoom if need be).
France has a ‘right to disconnect’ law which allows employees to avoid work emails outside of working hours. You can switch off at the end of the day with a mutual understanding that emails won’t get answered until the next morning. Amazing, right? This came about in 2017 after concerns over burnout were raised. In the spirit of the ‘right to disconnect’ law, switch off all electronic devices for the duration of your retreat. This is sometimes harder than you might think.
Thermal baths are renowned for their healing properties from everything from skin ailments to stress. You can find thermal baths all over the world with perhaps Iceland’s Blue Lagoon being among the most famous. If you can’t get to Iceland don’t fret. Run yourself a bath at home and light a scented candle. You could even add magnesium salts to the bath and slip into blissful relaxation.
Treat yourself to a rosewater facial. This wellness activity is Turkish in origin and it’s used to tackle irritated skin and acne. Rosewater is also packed with vitamins and antioxidants which do your skin a world of good and boosts your mood too. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Try this organic calming rose water tonic by Odylique.
Get a little inspiration
If you would prefer more guidance and structure, here are a few workshops and at-home retreats from around the world for you to enjoy:
Happiness meditation with chocolate
Streaming live all the way from Playa del Carmen, Mexico, happiness meditation with chocolate combines two ways to love yourself – meditation and chocolate. And I mean, what could be better than an hour of pure chocolatey indulgence?
This virtual class is all about mindfulness and connectivity. All meditation levels are welcome, even complete novices with no prior experience. You’ll be guided through different meditations, including gratitude, self-love and compassion, that you can practice in your daily life.
Master a life-changing morning routine
If you’re looking to completely change your lifestyle then master a life-changing morning routine is for you. Streaming live from Virginia in the United States, the 75-minute virtual session teaches you how to find inspiration and motivation to create the life you want.
You’ll experience meditations and breathing techniques, affirmations and self-reflection. You’ll also learn how to visualise your goals and a yoga routine you can practice at the start of your day. The masterclass is run by a certified coach and yoga teacher so you can be sure you’re in safe hands.
Forest Bathe in Kyoto’s Sacred Mountain
This wellness masterclass takes you all the way to the forests of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto, Japan. There, you will learn about Shinto rituals and go forest bathing at one of Kyoto’s oldest shrines. The class will teach you four ways to meditate and you’ll even get a chance to do breath meditation at a sacred waterfall that tourists rarely get to see.
The experience is perfect for forest bathers at all levels and although the video is prerecorded, the narration is live throughout so you can ask questions and interact with your host.
Read More: What is Ecotourism and Why is it Important?
Aurora Hunting in Iceland
Immersing yourself in the wonders of nature is good for your health and wellbeing. For most of us, seeing the northern lights in real-life is a dream come true. The virtual Aurora hunting experience in Reykjavik, Iceland is the next best thing. Although there are no meditations or affirmations involved, it’ll certainly inspire you.
The virtual tour takes you to a stunning location in Iceland at night where you will learn all about the natural phenomenon that is the Aurora Borealis. The host makes the experience as interactive as possible with video, photos and props.
You’ll even get insider tips from a professional photographer on how to capture the show on camera yourself for when you do get a chance to see them.
Want to virtually explore more awe-inspiring natural sights around the world? Here are 20 travel experiences to enjoy.
DIY home retreats with Adventure Yogi
If you want flexibility but need a little guidance at the same time, Adventure Yogi’s DIY Home Retreats are designed to be done anytime. You can choose from a range of half or whole day retreats and themes you want to achieve such as calm, strong or empowered.
Each DIY retreat include schedules with a mix of wake-up and bedtime routines, yoga classes, meditation workshops and recipes. You also have a combination of live and pre-recorded classes to help motivate you.
Ayurveda with Ananda in the Himalayas
Ranked number one in Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards, Ananda is a celebrated destination spa in the Himalayas. Luckily, you don’t have to travel to India for its wellness experiences. The spa has gone online for people all over the world who want to sample its range of expert personalised services and packages.
On service is the Ayurvedic Consultation which dives deep into your physical, emotional and mental health to assess your body type and current imbalances. An assessment is done of all your major health systems, including digestion, sleep and nervous system. You’re then given a personalised sequence of guidelines and a diet plan to help you find a balance.
Your DIY retreat
I hope these suggestions inspire you to create your own at-home travel-inspired wellness retreat. Adding a touch of self-care to your life doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as blocking off an afternoon to uplift, re-energise and set some goals.
Let me know if you’re planning a DIY retreat at home. What does your itinerary look like?
- The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life
- The Little Book of Self-Care: 200 Ways to Refresh, Restore, and Rejuvenate
- Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything
- This One Wild and Precious Life: The Path Back to Connection in a Fractured World
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