As a residence life professional I can attest to the need for a little rest and rejuvenation every once in a while. Especially after our busy seasons like RA training, move-in, move-out, RA selection, housing selection… then add in roommate conflicts, on-call nights, staff meetings, one-on-ones… ok, maybe we need a lot of rest and rejuvenation!
So what does one do when they need a boost? A wellness retreat! Unfortunately, 2-day weekend retreat pricing is in the thousand-dollar range when you include travel, baby and/or fur baby sitters, and whatever other needs you have. Longer retreats range from $2,500 to $18,000. Yes, you read that number right. With prices like that, you may be choosing between your spirit and your savings account.
So, I offer an alternative: the DIY wellness retreat. Working in Higher Ed, and specifically Residence Life or Student Life, means you have the exact right skill set to make this happen! Since programs, curriculum, and event planning are major parts of most of our jobs, creating a DIY wellness retreat is very do-able for you! There are 4 basic aspects to a retreat: 1) Rest, 2) Movement, 3) Food, 4) Atmosphere, and here are the basic steps to make it all happen:
Find the time:
Decide if you will be using a weekend or a week for your retreat. Block that time off of your calendar so no one can take it. Discuss the need to be unreachable to your family, friends, spouse, job, etc. You may want to turn your phone off if you can to be present in what you are doing.
Choose your activities:
You can choose meditation, yoga, art therapy, massage, hiking, swimming, reading, watching movies, catching up on a favorite TV show, or anything else that invigorates and/or relaxes you. You may want to try out a local yoga studio or a new gym. You may want to hike the trails in your area that you never seem to get around to or lay on the beach undisturbed. Or, if you chose to travel somewhere new for your retreat, you may want to take a guided tour of a local attraction or visit a museum.
Plan a menu:
This can include healthy meals, comfort meals, or that great restaurant you’ve been eager to try. You can prep all of your meals ahead of time; you can make cooking your meals one of your restorative activities or you can have specific meals delivered. The goal is to find food that nurtures your body and your soul.
Choose a location:
You can enjoy the retreat from home if you think you won’t be disturbed. You can also find a nice hotel or an Airbnb if you don’t live alone. You can use this time to travel a bit. Just make sure getting to and from your destination doesn’t negate the work you’re doing on yourself. What matters is that the location gives you access to any activities you want to participate in, the opportunity to rest and that it feels joyful rather than stressful.
Make a schedule:
Once you’ve got the four basic aspects decided, make a schedule. It can be stringent or flexible but it is important to have some kind of plan. Next, make any necessary appointments or reservations. If you want to do sunrise yoga at a studio, sign up for the class. If you want to learn how to knit, register for the course. If you want to get a start on getting stronger, make an appointment with a personal trainer. If you want a massage and/or facial book it! Make sure to add all of these appointments to your schedule and don’t forget to include enough time to prepare for them, travel to them if necessary and unwind afterwards.
Whatever you decide, make sure it’s what works for you. There are a lot of ideas about how to improve wellness, but only you know what you need or want. You may even want to bring some of your retreat activities into your everyday life once you’ve felt their impact. The point is that you deserve some care and pampering without the price tag!
See an example retreat schedule template below to help get you started with your planning.
I wish you all a rejuvenative retreat!