Numerous studies show that taking vacations is good for your physical and mental health. Having a vacation to look forward to can help you change your mindset about the daily grind, and the trip itself can reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels and improve mental clarity.
The experts at Total Health and Fitness know there’s an important link between mental health and physical wellness. Not everyone can just get up one day and decide they’re going to be happier, eat healthier, and exercise regularly. Starting small when it comes to wellness may mean baby steps regarding nutrition and exercise, and the vacations you take for your mental health start closer to home.
What is a Wellness Retreat?
A wellness retreat allows you to pick and choose from a range of activities so you’re taking a customized approach to your health. Your personal philosophy may include a mix of western and eastern medicine. You can attend established wellness retreats that are professionally planned, or curate one yourself.
No matter where you go, you’ll see activities and services that include yoga, meditation, a gym, and thoughtfully crafted meal plans. Customizing a treatment plan for mental and physical health is something Alpine Clinic understands; they give clients the freedom to explore different modalities to treat the root cause of their ailments. Your wellness retreat may be a visit to a holistic practitioner like Alpine Clinic for a day, or a week-long stay at a more intensive location.
Wellness Retreat vs Wellness Resort
Lodging Magazine defines a wellness retreat as: “a guided, intention-driven, multi-day program with a… semi-set schedule. The program may include learning and lifestyle workshops such as meditation and healthy eating, as well as fitness activities such as yoga, nature walks, and hiking.”
In contrast, a wellness resort is “any facility with accommodations and a range of hospitality services… composed of four primary elements: accommodations, a variety of wellness activities, healthy dining options, and wellness-related facilities.”
While the benefits may be similar, the intention of a retreat vs a resort varies. One is about providing participants with the knowledge to change their lifestyles, while the latter is more about offering a temporary break from routine life.
Where Should I Go for a Wellness Retreat?
One of the best parts of a wellness retreat is unplugging from your daily grind. Connecting with nature and disconnecting from electronics, work, and routine are important elements of a retreat. However, if you can find a slice of paradise at a spa in a bustling city, it might just do the trick. There are no limits, but consider the types of locales that will force you to step out of your responsibilities for a while.
Travel and Leisure list the top wellness retreats across the US as of 2022:
- Arizona – Castle Hot Springs
- California – Golden Door
- California – The Ranch Malibu
- Colorado – Crestone Mountain Zen Center
- Florida – Carillion Miami Wellness Resort
- New York – The Barns at Troutbeck
- New York – Y01 Health Resort
- South Carolina – Hilton Head Health
However, a mental health break could look like a weekend spent camping in your favorite local spot, a stay in a small-town vacation rental, or a four-star hotel room with an on-site spa and room service. Western states such as Utah, Wyoming, and Montana have a plethora of resorts with hot springs, horseback riding, and spa services that combine relaxation with opportunities to get outside and connect with nature.
What Happens at a Wellness Retreat?
In general, there are some common practices you can expect to find at a wellness retreat. You might stay for just a handful of days or a few weeks. If you’re planning to take a vacation for your health, look for the following offerings.
- Sound baths
- Nutrition consultations and implementation
- Journal with prompts
- Nature walks
- Social and solo time
You’ll not only be exposed to these treatments and activities but you’ll be given the tools you need to take the practices home with you. Some wellness retreats may even include cooking classes so you can recreate the meals you enjoyed while there.
Is a Wellness Retreat Worth It?
A study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that after a week-long wellness retreat, participants had lower blood pressure and smaller waistlines for as long as six weeks following the retreat.
Benefits of Wellness Retreats
When you give yourself permission to slow down and focus on yourself, the benefits can be long-lasting and life-changing.
Whether you’re engaging in therapy, learning to meditate, or focusing on exercise, your retreat gives you the gift of time. Without the distractions of work or relationships, you can devote your attention solely to the task at hand. You’ll also be given time to reflect on what you participated in each day, as many retreats don’t provide or allow electronic devices.
RESET YOUR GUT
“Cleanse” and “detox” are just fancy words for cleaning out your digestive system. While there’s no real reason to purge your body of so-called toxins, a wellness retreat can offer nutritional guidance that helps restore the good bacteria we all need in our gut. Perhaps you choose a retreat that caters to vegetarian, vegan, or Mediterranean meal preferences.
A change of scenery, regardless of what you do while there, gives a boost to your mental clarity. It can change your perspective and help you better respond and adapt to what’s waiting for you at home.
REDUCE ANXIETY AND STRESS
The treatments offered at a retreat, including massage, yoga, meditation, and talk therapy, can reduce your feelings of anxiety and stress. Even getting into a practice of journaling during a wellness retreat can reduce stress by providing an outlet for emotions.
MEET NEW PEOPLE
It can be hard to connect with people who share the same values and interests as you when you’re busy with work or family life. Or, maybe some of your hobbies are best done solo, which makes finding like-minded people difficult. At a retreat, you can spend time with others who have similar interests and goals as you, offering the chance to make new friends you can keep in touch with when the trip is over.
The possibilities are endless, so keep looking until you find the retreat that caters to your needs.