24 May A Warning on ‘Healthy Wellness’ Holidays
Organic detox meals, yoga, nature, meditation and more, are on offer these days in abundance around the world. Be it a 1 day retreat, weekend or a full month, thousands of people are paying a fortune for a healthy, wellness getaway. But what if the 1 disadvantage of a healthy retreat outweighs all the benefits? What happens when you get back home?
Retreats offering detox, wellness etc can be physically very good for you. Most will offer healthy food and physical activity that can be a wonderful break from what your body is usually exposed to. But the majority of these ‘retreats’ work in a duality where they may be physically good for you, but not mentally.
Each person going to a retreat is different. Even though their physical goals may be similar they have different mentalities and this is often neglected in a ‘wellness’ programme. The body will easily adapt to timetable changes during a retreat, but what happens to the mind? Learning how to realistically weave these positive lessons into our normal daily routine, is what is fundamentally missing.
It’s all very well waking up at 5am for a detox smoothie, sunrise meditation, 2 hours of yoga and a 2 hours nature walk in the afternoon, followed by some evening chanting before an early night sleep, when you’re in the middle of nature or some beautiful location abroad. When you’re away at a retreat, you’re physically removed from the normality of your day to day. As you physically step out of your usual environment, it is easier to mentally step away from your day to day stresses. You’re also surrounded by other people who are doing the exact same thing and have the same goals in mind. What a wonderfully idealistic place to be in. However when reality kicks in, once you’re back to your regular life, more often than not people get more depressed and frustrated than they were before going on the retreat.
I have seen this ‘Post Retreat Guilt’ over the years in my clients and friends, and I remember experiencing the mental anguish myself. People gain a sense of achievement and pride when being structured and healthy during a retreat. Not being able to maintain that discipline when you’re back to your normal life is where the issue lies. Most people begin to feel depressed at themselves for not being able to keep up the healthy eating, level of activity and mindfulness afterwards. There is an overwhelming sense of failure, guilt and disappointment that can follow, which often outweighs the effects you experienced during the retreat. Therefore managing expectations and teaching my clients how to implement these techniques and healthy habits into their lives, has become the main goal of every retreat or workshop I teach.
So my suggestion to those holding these retreats, is to remember to actually help and guide your clients with how to apply these methods and habits to their normal lives. For anyone planning a healthy/wellness retreat, my advice is to be gentle and realistic with yourself.
Throughout the retreat, be thinking about how you can apply some of what you’re doing, realistically in your daily life.
There may be activities, meditations or foods that resonate with you more, and others that don’t. Explore other types of retreats or therapies to give you a variety of methods and techniques you can use daily. Take it step by step, trying to introduce a few minutes back home per week, and they try to build up to longer. Start off with changing what you usually would eat at home, to just one ‘healthier’ type of dinner a week, and try to build up… Gently try to introduce these new habits, little by little around the jobs, kids, traffic, finances, stress etc, and keep congratulating yourself for even making the effort! The most important thing is to not put too much pressure on yourself, not to judge yourself harshly or allow yourself to feel guilty. Just try to do the best you can day by day and take it easy on yourself if you have a few days, weeks or months off being that version of yourself. By not judging themselves too much, most people actually find that their frame of mind is more inclined to taking on changes and challenges. Only you know the balance between being kind but firm with yourself. Leave me a comment below if you’ve ever experienced this or have any advice for anyone going on a retreat! Then go and book a holiday and enjoy yourself during and after!