Why you think you can't go on a woman's wellness retreat
They are the exact reasons you need to go! By Dr. Tracy King
There you are in a brief moment of distraction, from work, motherhood, family and/or relationship dramas, illness or loss (or all of the above!), flicking through social media, and there it is. That perfect haven, a Garden of Eden full of temptation drawing you into its idyllic cocoon of solitude, relaxation and rejuvenation – A Woman's Wellness Retreat, words set upon a backdrop of jungles and beaches, wholesome food and promises of changes to lifestyle, love and mindset.
For a nanosecond you could see yourself there, downward dogging in all your glory on the beach, ecstatic dancing in the moonlight and swapping your regular Cadbury's Creme Eggs and cava for lentils and legumes wondering if this really might give you more glow to your glamour and more G-force to your giving. Then reality strikes and the antichrist of adventure kicks in, demonically derailing your dreams with thoughts such as:
- Who will take care of the children, the animals, my partner?
- How will I ever afford it?
- How could I justify investing that money in myself?
- I won't know anyone there and no one will like me.
- I won't look as good as the others.
- I won't be able to do what they want me to.
The brain is like an internet search engine, it is the quality of what you put in that leads to the quality of your results. As women, we have so much responsibility and expectation upon us to be everything to everyone (I don't discount the stresses of men here but simply focus on female roles right now), it is often easier to manifest an excuse for not doing something than to allow ourselves to be deserving of some self-care and rest. Rest is the underpinning of productivity we have to take time to fuel the tank in order to meet our responsibilities. If you notice these kinds of excuses coming up for you, this is exactly what a women's wellness retreat could help shift.
Even without a family, women often take the role of caregiver in some shape or form and will be in the habit of putting others first. A retreat gives time to relax and forget the pressures of life. you need to recharge, to be able to keep giving. You may think you've been on many holidays already but a retreat is about escaping routine. Family holidays come with routine, you may not always return relaxed and rejuvenated. A retreat allows access to like-minded women, allows perspective taking, and healing in nature. The effects are long-term. You have an opportunity to look at your beliefs and negative thoughts afresh. You reset and recalibrate your system.
Shared experiences with other women provide a sense of sisterhood and belonging. you make new friends and form wider support networks. Together women can encourage each other to engage in self-care and self-compassion. We are the nurturers of the world but find it hard to turn that nurturing inward, in a consistent way.
When we step away from all that we know we can listen to our true selves. The inner voice we have contains innate wisdom but we drown it out with busy everyday responsibilities and negative self-talk. Listening to the inner voice immersed in nature reminds us of the connectedness of life, how things come in cycles and how balance can be achieved, even if darkness currently looms.
This space can empower us to silence our inner critic and listen to our higher self-guidance that is nurturing, not critical. Many retreats have specified mindset goals to work with this and this helps us to step away from the 'shoulds and musts' from childhood conditioning. The ways we were taught to be in the world. Retreats help us move from fear-based reactiveness to love-based responsiveness.
We will be guided and inspired by the stories of others, some to which we relate and some to which we don't but all will teach us more about ourselves. We will have an opportunity to engage in new experiences, and find parts of ourselves we did not know existed. A retreat teaches us that we have the power to make changes in our lives.
A retreat may well begin with you feeling out of your comfort zone and scared. But imagine the joy of overcoming that within a day or two and realising you had the strength to tolerate that temporary distress. This in itself builds resilience in your everyday life in return.
So what are the steps to jumping to that parallel universe where you're at the retreat?
- List reasons why you should go and how it will benefit your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Think about what would happen long term if you didn't address your current concerns. This is the beauty of a retreat whatever the theme you will always have your own experience.
- Even if you think you can't do it, make a plan for how you might make it happen if you were to go. If your heart wants the adventure but your bank says 'no' then think about how you could cut back to save for a trip over time. Who could help cover your responsibilities when you are gone?
- Notice the self-blocks that emerge even in response to these questions and reflect on how life might be without these blocks.
If right now you are still in a space of retreating from retreats make a commitment to yourself to keep revisiting this at set times – stick a reminder in your calendar every couple of months. Know that the exact obstacles you see now, are the ones that would benefit from being dismantled in time away from your current environment.
Maybe it's the word 'treat' within 'retreat' that creates such resistance for many. Framing these trips as rewards and seeing them as the nemesis of the nurturing identity, rather than a necessity for maintaining the neverending nurturing service we offer, is perhaps the first thinking error we need to overcome.
Dr. Tracy King is a Clinical Psychologist, Coach, Hypnotherapist, 500 hour Yoga and Meditation Teacher and Writer who works holistically.