Everyone needs to withdraw from the world now and again. Here you can learn how to create your own personal retreat by following some simple guidelines.
What image comes to mind when you think of the words “personal retreat”? A place where you’re pampered in both body and mind? A luxurious spa located in the middle of nowhere? An indulgent experience that sees you rested and rejuvenated and ready to take on the world once more?
If you’re anything like me, you have fantasized about attending a personal retreat where you experienced five days of massages, delicious food and bonding with nature, but never been able to make the fantasy a reality – no doubt due to the financial cost and the time involved. However it is possible to create your own personal retreat that achieves similar benefits. What’s more, it’s so easy to do that it can become part of your regular life, as opposed to once in a lifetime. Here I’ll show you how to create your own personal retreat in simple, easy steps.
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Planning your own personal retreat.
The first step is to treat your retreat like you would any other mini-break or holiday – and that means by doing the planning!
Planning is most easily done by thinking of the 5Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. For the most efficient planning, we’ll mess with this order just a little.
Why do you want your own personal retreat?
The first thing to consider is the purpose of your retreat. By definition, the word retreat means to withdraw from and so first and foremost, the purpose of your personal retreat is to move away from your everyday life with all its stresses and strains. Beyond that, your motivations could fall into any one of the following:
- Giving yourself time and space to indulge in loved but neglected hobby
- Working on an important personal goal
- Connecting with nature in all its glory
- Embracing spiritual practice, which may include mediation, yoga or mindfulness practices.
- Resting and relaxing your body and your mind
- Practicing gratitude for your past, present and future
- Bonding with your loved one by focusing solely on each other
Determining the purpose of your personal retreat is important as it shapes the decisions that come next.
Who do you want to attend your own personal retreat?
Your WHY will largely shape your answer to this next question, which is, who will be on your personal retreat with you? For example, if your purpose is to work on an important personal goal, then having the whole family with you might be counter-productive. But if you want to connect with nature, then packing the kids up and heading into the wilderness might be exactly what you’ve been craving. It is possible to do many of these options with your husband, but the key thing is to ensure you’re both on the same page – that you have the same goals for this time. If he’s craving some sexy time and you’re thinking about nestling in with the latest Harlan Coben, then one of you is going to end up disappointed.
Where do you want to host your own personal retreat?
Where will you go for your personal retreat? Again this is connected to both your why and your who. You have many options here, such as staying in a resort, hotel, or Airbnb. You can also crate the retreat in your own home.
For example, my husband and I have our version of a couple’s retreat day, which is what we call a stay-in-bed day. It’s exactly what it sounds like – we stay in bed as much as possible. This is perfect for relaxing and connecting. We usually spend this day binge watching a season or two. All meals are eaten in bed, which is a lot less messy than it sounds. We treasure our memories of these days and try to have one a couple of times a year. If you do opt to have your retreat in your own home, make sure you follow the tips below.
Tips for having your retreat in your own home.
- Make sure the house is clean and tidy before you officially begin your retreat (unless you’re having a one-day stay in bed day, in which case only a clean room with fresh sheets is required!) Make a solemn promise to yourself that you will not engage in normal activities such as weekly cleaning or clothes washing during this time.
- Ensure that you have your menu planned out and that you have purchased everything you plan to eat. Consider pre-preparing food to minimize time spent cooking and maximize time spent achieving your personal retreat goal. The exception to this, of course, is if the hobby you want to indulge in is cooking!
- Consider unplugging the WiFi during your retreat time and moving the unplugged modem into a less convenient location (such as a shelf in the garage) so you are not tempted by the lure of the internet. If your plans include binge watching shows, make sure they have been downloaded in advance.
When do you want to have your own personal retreat?
Now that you have in mind where you want to go, the next decision is to work out when you will go. How long is feasible? A day? A weekend? A long weekend? Other than feasibility, go back to your why. How long will it take you to achieve your purpose? Be realistic with the time you think you need. Once you have decided this, check your calendar to find a commitment-free time that suits everyone in your family and book it in, even if you are having your personal retreat at home. Honor your commitment to this time.
What do you want to do on your own personal retreat?
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff!
There are two key questions to ask here – what do you want to do and what don’t you want to do.
Make a list of all the things you want to do. If your retreat has a self-care focus, for example, your to-do list might include
- Going for a brisk walk
- Getting a massage
- Giving yourself a facial
- Having a long bath by candlelight
- Sleeping until you wake up
If your retreat has a gratitude focus, your to-do list might include
- Starting a gratitude journal using daily prompts
- Looking through photographs and memorabilia and reflecting positively on the value of the memory and the people and placed involved in it
- Sitting outside an writing down what you are grateful for in your natural environment
- Recording who and what you appreciate in your life and making a plan to show that appreciation
You can see that you can get super-inventive with how you spend your time!
You also need to make a list of what you don’t want to do. Essentially these are going to be things that will distract you from your purpose. For most people this is going to include some form of not engaging with social media and your phone in general.
As a general guideline, I would suggest that all retreats should have these non-negotiables:
- Healthful food that nourishes your body as well as your taste buds
- Plenty of water
- Plenty of sleep, especially if you have been running on empty
- No social media
- No phone (consider how you will check in with people or be reached in an emergency, especially if you are going away from home)
- A treat item
For your treat item, consider purchasing ONE small thing that would give you a lot of pleasure. For me this could be:
- a new bestseller
- a new magazine or two
- a beautifully scented candle
- a bath bomb
- a new gratitude journal
Now that you’ve finished planning, it’s time to get doing! Start planning your personal retreat today.
In today’s world it can be challenging to truly take a break, to retreat from your commitments and take some time to rest and recharge. You don’t need to travel across the world and spend five days in silence in a monastery to get the benefits of a personal retreat. You can plan your own one by following the simple steps here.
Have you ever gone on a retreat or planned one for yourself? I’d love to know how you found the experience. Let me know in the comments!