By Linda Mullins
Originally written for and published in PrimeWomen.com
Are you feeling drained and depleted after an arduous and emotional departure from your former life? If all you want to do is run away to a warm beach and lounge about . . . for the rest of your life, you’re not alone. The truth is, a global pandemic shutdown, or any significant life event, takes a toll on your emotions and your state of mental health. It also causes suffering untold in the physical body.
Whether you’re experiencing anxiety and stress from life- disruption caused by COVID -19, the end of a marriage, the loss of a parent you’ve been serving through their last days or a loss of identity and financial concerns due to a layoff, any major life event produces trauma. Plain and simple. Trauma impacts every fiber of your being. It manifests itself not only physically, but it seeps deep into your very soul. The stress from such trauma often strips the body of every ounce of energy. In turn, your will to do anything at all often vanishes.
So what’s the answer?
For some, it may be just powering through your days in a state of numbness and collapsing on the weekends from the depression and heaviness that besets you.
Let’s face it; a significant loss cannot be masked or pushed aside and simply ignored. Well, not for long anyway, it must be dealt with. Desperately grasping for self-preservation, many find ways to muddle through by creating coping mechanisms. It is a popular, short-term remedy, often showing up as self- medication.
There is such a wide variety of legal drugs to choose from and all in ample supply. Whether it be pills or pot, food, wine, shopping, working out, escapism, casual sex – you name it any of these in excess numb the pain and push down the feelings of grief, betrayal, and sheer exhaustion after a life event.
But when the self-medication fails to fill that aching cavern, then what?
Often, bitterness, resentment, and anger find a home, laying down roots in the pit of your belly that may begin to morph you into a person you no longer recognize. For some of the lucky ones, however, they find their way to a sabbatical at the beach or the mountains that promises renewal and restoration. But wellness retreats are not just a vacation (though that rarely hurts). A genuine wellness retreat designed to unearth the buried feelings and shed light on the deep issues so that real healing can begin.
No doubt, spas, and resorts are beautiful ways to get away. I’m a big fan and enjoy them as often as I can all over the world. A wellness retreat, on the other hand, is a special place offering quite a bit more. Sure, there may be ayurvedic spa treatments, healing waters, and detoxification from junk food and alcohol. To this, I say absolutely- bring on the healing waters and massages! Which, in my opinion, are all important and wonderfully therapeutic ways to restore a weary body. But a genuinely restorative retreat, in my humble opinion, will reach much deeper into your soul than any spa treatment could ever hope to. Don’t get me wrong; I will not give up such luxuries unless forced to at gunpoint.
Instead, to these splendid offerings, I say yes and, if we dare, let’s seek out some real healing; peel back the layers of that newly-exfoliated, fully-hydrated surface layer and penetrate the deeper levels of our mind, will and emotions. Daringly open ourselves up and expose the hidden wounds that have been strategically hidden by our savvy subconscious. Let’s dive into the kind of healing water that lasts long after the tan lines fade away.
Integrative Wellness Retreats
With stress at an all-time high and burnout on the rise, truly integrative wellness retreats are much-needed therapy. Whether it is a long-term stay at a boutique retreat you seek, or a one-week getaway to reboot , holistic retreats address every aspect of a person’s wellness. Guests enjoy not only a time of respite but invest in their mental and physical wellness and often experience true inner healing with the guidance of a Psychologist working through past traumas and faulty belief systems.
Nutritional healing is also on the menu and comes through changing our relationship with food and wine. With the help of Functional Medicine practitioners educating on your body’s specific requirements to optimize your health. Intentionally using food as medicine, and encouraging holistic wellness as a lifestyle, not just a retreat.
This type of wellness retreat offers benefits far beyond that of a spa getaway. If you’re willing, it can be a time of deep restoration. For the many hundreds that came seeking to improve their health at a prior resort I owned, it was just the ticket. This time to work on some significant challenges, shift their paradigm and make substantial improvements in their life, working on both the physical and mental. One of the clients that came through was completely transformed emotionally over a four-week stay. She reconciled with her husband of twenty years. Another client, recently-divorced, allowed himself the time necessary to do the deep work and left a happier, more grounded person. He had found a new identity and a fresh perspective on this new chapter in his life. He also trained and competed in a triathlon while at the retreat.
Still, another client from England had such a transformative experience she opened a retreat in London. This isn’t too far off from my own story. In 2007, I quit a very lucrative position to go and immerse myself in a fitness retreat for six weeks. That time at a fitness’ boot camp’ inspired me to craft an even more holistic retreat that offered not only physical health but increased mental wellness and spiritual wellness as well. It was an excellent solution and transformed many lives.
Because of the pace at which we run nowadays, many of us are seeking wholeness and wellness, but we want it instantly. And though the ‘drive-thru’ mentality is flawed by nature, I believe that a brief stay at a wellness retreat that offers guidance from mental, emotional & physical professionals can positively impact a life, I now provide such a retreat so that weary people recovering from a traumatic life event can begin their journey to healing their whole self.
As Dr. Jennifer Kessmann (a Functional Medicine practitioner) said recently, “Retreats are a great way to reset what is important and find a path to wellness. Taking a breath can allow a change of mindset and direction that can be a positive force for enhancing well-being of the mind, body, and spirit.” To this I say amen, Dr. Kessmann!