5 simple reasons to take yourself on a retreat
Exotic location, countless sunrises and sunsets…long walks on the beach followed by a massage, yoga or a swim…
Divine food and balmy, candle lit nights.
If you are anything like me, this is the idyllic picture I paint in my mind when I think about taking myself on a retreat, to a resort or spa. But when I dig a little deeper, I realise there are in fact multiple benefits to taking time out, in addition to the luxury goodness on offer.
1. The opportunity to reset your body clock to a natural state, tune into circadian rhythms, waking at sunrise and going to bed at sunset
In the modern Western world, especially for those who are city dwellers, we are exposed to a numerous things that can have a dramatic effect on the quality of our sleep. Putting aside the contribution factor of food for now, things such as Wi-fi, excess light and noise pollution, too much late night television and computers all place a negative load on our hormonal systems and in turn our adrenal glands. When exposed to these sources of stress, our adrenal glands produce excessive cortisol which in turn weakens the immune system.
Taking your body out of this stimulating environment, offers the perfect opportunity to regulate the hormonal system and in turn our adrenal glands. Furthermore, when we put our bodies in a place where it is no longer over-stimulated, we begin to fall back into more natural sleep patterns or regulated circadian rhythm. You will find that within a few days, your body will happily wake at sunrise and you will want to sleep at sunset. This in turn has a greater effect on long term health issues such as obesity, insomnia, depression and diabetes.
2. Cleansing – eating simple and clean
One of the things I equally love and resist at the same time is the opportunity to eat a much cleaner diet when on a retreat, at a resort or spa. This certainly doesn’t have to be an extreme detox, but rather a process of eliminating or reducing stimulants such as coffee and sugar, reduced or no alcohol consumption and taking out all those processed foods which are abundant in today’s “standard diets”.
The resistance for me is certainly the elimination of caffeine, because I know a couple of days of mild headaches and a sluggish body will ensue. Sure enough, when combined whole foods and a primarily plant-based diet, my energy levels restore to normal and I’m high on life rather than on sugar and caffeine.
However, the positive results of cleansing alone are in fact numerous. One of the biggest and most important changes is the restoration of our gut health – our immunity centre. The cleansing effect also extends to our moods, as our gut health improves, our minds become clearer. Our bodies also move towards a more alkaline state, through Organic food we reduce our toxic load which in turn increases immune health and vitality. Finally, through cleansing, we are also nurturing several of our most important detoxifying organs—the liver, the lungs, the kidneys, and the colon.
3. Biophilia and time in nature
Our co-founder Katherine, recently wrote on the topic of biophilia and how important it is to spend time in nature to combat our often crazy Western lifestyles. The term Biophilia was crated by a German psychologist Erich Seligmann Fromm, and later in the biophilia hypothesis by Edward O Wilson. Wilson suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book, Biophilia (1984). He defines biophilia as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”.
Time in nature helps with our mental restoration, emotional wellbeing and lowering our stress levels. In other words nature helps to heal us. Our senses become
Sense are more engaged, we experience gratitude for the world around us and a deeper sense of our place on earth. The air is cleaner and reducing our exposure to free-radicals, toxins and pollution that we experience in the city.
While away, walk in nature and go barefoot as often as you can. This experience is often termed as grounding or earthing. Receiving the earth’s energy or positive electrons through your feet, has been known to reduce stress, increase energy and help you sleep better.
4. Regular Movement
While you may spend countless hours poolside soaking up some much needed Vitamin D, it is also important to incorporate some regular movement in your day. This doesn’t have to mean a 10km run or hike up the highest peak, but could be as simple as a stroll along the beach, a tai chi or yoga class. The positive effect of regular movement is three fold – it keeps our digestive system in order (which can often go awry from long travel), we sleep better and we are happier through more regular production of dopamine and serotonins.
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
5. Dedicated time out for reflection, stillness and to just be
The final reason, is the most simple yet effective. When you take dedicated ‘time out’, away from the daily grind and routine, there are opportunities for reflection, stillness and a chance to ‘just be’. We are human ‘beings’ and the act of ‘being’ is true to our natural way. When taking time out, you have the opportunity to relish in the abundance of time, the pace of life is slower, you enjoy your meals more, you are present in conversation and in every moment.
Next time you are contemplating, lusting or dreaming of white sandy beaches, pampering days and glorious nights, remember that your dream could benefit you in many ways. You are nourishing your body, your mind and your soul.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences – http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx
Better Health Victoria – http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Hormonal_%28endocrine%29_system?open
Written by Ruby Marsh from A Conscious Beauty