What is a Mental Health Retreat?
It is so often that we hear of people taking “mental health” days or breaks - but what does this actually mean? For some, this can mean a relaxing day on the couch or a simple day off! At Health and Fitness Travel, our wellness holidays are structured and are multi-faceted. The purpose of a mental health retreat is to detoxify the mind and body of stress and tension, and each element of our retreats has a significant effect on your mental health.
Element One - Mindfulness
Caption: A man looking into the stars surrounded by nature.
Mental health and mindfulness are often used interchangeably, but what’s the difference? Mindfulness refers to the act (and art) of being connected to your surroundings, being able to block negative or intrusive thoughts, and embracing peace by being alert in the present moment. Mindfulness retreats often include meditation and elements of nature, such as forest bathing sessions at Palacio Estoril. Practicing mindfulness on a retreat can often result in learning and implementing the same techniques in your everyday life post-holiday. Mindfulness is important to mental health because it allows you to be more present and focus on the things in life that make you truly happy, and not life’s many stressors.
Element Two: Spirituality
Caption: A woman floating in a therapy session at Chiva Som International Health Resort
The spirituality element of a mental health retreat refers to the restoration of energy. In other words, it’s the balancing and combination of your mind, soul, and body and ensuring the three coexist harmoniously. Spiritual holidays often feature Ayurveda, an Indian natural medicine system that has been in practice for over 3,000 years. Ayurveda focuses on herbal remedies, breathing, meditation, and more to enhance inner spirituality. A connection to nature is a tried and true way of improving one’s spirituality, and some spiritual holidays call for a technology cleanse! Our increased connectivity to devices and social media can often be a detriment to our mental health, so a digital detox could be just what the doctor ordered to have you feeling more in tune with yourself and your surroundings!
Element Three: Life Coaching
Caption: Coaching session at Atmantan Wellness Resort
Life coaching is a wonderful component of a mental health retreat because of its direct and individualized nature. Life coaching offers wellness travellers clarity and guidance in different avenues of their lives, whether it be relating to career, relationships, or life in general. A common feature of life coaching retreats besides the coaching itself is meditation, so you’re able to internally reflect on the conversations you have had with your respective life coach. Furthermore, life coaching retreats are effective due to their lasting impact post-holiday. The advice that coaches instill has staying power and is meant to inspire travellers long-term to effect meaningful change in their lives. We recommend tracking your progress in a journal to help you monitor your improvement towards your goals in real time and see just how far you’ve come!
Element Four: Fitness
Caption: A man exercising at Galo Resort, Madeira
Another great way of boosting mental health is through exercise. Fitness retreats are excellent for releasing endorphins, which increase overall mood as well as lower discomfort and pain levels. Furthermore, fitness retreats boost metabolic rates and will have you feeling your best. The most exciting thing about fitness retreats is that there’s something for everybody, whether you’re interested in surfing, hiking, or even bootcamps, there’s a retreat perfect for you. You also don’t have to be a fitness expert to dive into a fitness retreat - most retreats welcome people of all backgrounds and fitness levels. Trying your best will reap incredible rewards for you, such as increased stamina, mood, circulation, and more!
Element Five: Nutrition
Caption: A masterfully crafted meal at Mangosteen Auyrveda & Wellness Resort
Believe it or not, our diets have a direct effect on our mental health. Having a healthy diet has been proven to have positive effects on sleep quality, concentration, and stress management. Nutrition friendly retreats give travellers the chance to focus on a specific goal, whether it be weight loss, detoxification, or metabolism! There are lots of different ways to go about having a nutrition retreat, such as juice cleansing, raw diets, or even Ayurvedic diets. Nutrition is holistic and there’s no right or way to approach it, but with the help of dieticians and specialists, a bespoke plan will be just the boost you need to kick-start healthy habits post-retreat.
Element Six: Relaxation
Caption: A gorgeous and inviting spa therapy room at The BARAI Spa in Thailand
Our careers and corporate culture take away so much from us. As important as they are, sometimes they can also have negative effects on our mental health because of deadlines, co-workers, or other common workplace stress. This is why it’s so important for our mental health to find time to relax and decompress. Relaxing retreats such as spa holidays contribute positively to mental health because in addition to reducing stress, they also have been found to lower muscle tension and anxiety. It’s a good idea to periodically treat yourself to some form of relaxation to avoid stress buildup, which can have effects on your sleep and mood. Reward yourself for all of the hard work you put in!
Element Seven: Emotional Healing
Caption: Woman relaxing on an overlook at SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain
Last on our list but certainly not least, emotional healing retreats can be pivotal steps for travellers looking to recover from life’s challenges. Take steps towards recovery from potentially traumatic or stressful life events with licensed therapists and specialists to guide you towards feeling yourself again. In addition to guidance and coaching, emotional healing retreats often feature spa treatments such as massages or hydrotherapy so you can feel as renewed on the outside as you will internally! It’s not easy to recover from what life may throw at you, but emotional healing retreats are an excellent first step in achieving your goals.
Mental health retreats are multi-faceted because our own minds are complex and may require different needs. Nurturing our minds, bodies and souls in a way that is authentic to us is so important. Whether it’s through de-stressing, nutrition, fitness or life-coaching there is retreat for you that will help you way beyond on your stay!