Life can be hectic and demanding, so it’s important to step back every now and again and “treat yo-self” by taking some time to direct your focus inward. While you should be practising self-care on the regular, you can try to take it one step further, and there may be no better way to do that than with a wellness retreat.
Sure, the idea of a “wellness retreat” can spark different images for different people. Some want a quiet weekend away from the city to relax, recalibrate, and recharge, while others want to spend an intense week detoxing deep in nature with no smart phones in sight. Whether your dream retreat is to sink deeper into your downward dog or to simply breathe a little deeper, here are seven options that offer a restorative experience that’s just for you.
A Nordic Spa
If plunging into an ice-cold bath and then treating your muscles to an indulgent hot soak sounds like the epitome of relaxation, consider a Nordic spa retreat. Thermotherapy—a centuries-old concept—not only soothes aching muscles and joints, but it also stimulates your immune system by increasing your metabolic rate, boosting circulation, and kick-starting your metabolism. Furthermore, the hot temperatures work to open your pores and eliminate toxins while the cold firms up your skin, making it an all-around health win.
Try: Nordik Spa-Nature, Gatineau, QC
Nordik Spa-Nature features a natural outdoor setting (think waterfalls and tons of greenery), 10 plunge baths, and numerous nesting spots. That natural approach is designed to give guests a full sensory experience, ensuring complete well-being from the inside out.
To Get Physically Fit
Despite your best intentions, sometimes your health goals can get away from you. Too many late nights with not enough shut-eye, a workout routine that’s gone by the wayside, or the take-out apps on your phone have pulled you away from that meal plan you were going to make for the week. It happens.
If you’re feeling in need of a recharge, look for a wellness retreat that can help bolster your willpower through activities such as Nordic hiking and strength-training classes. You should also look for a retreat that lets you lower stress levels with therapeutic time in the spa, detoxify your system through a healthy and gourmet organic meal plan, and revitalize your energy, creativity, and sleep patterns.
Try: Mountain Trek Fitness Resort, Ainsworth, BC
This getaway is the ultimate back-to-basics retreat for fitness lovers and aspiring gym rats alike. Nestled in BC’s Selkirk mountains, the facility offers one- or two-week escapes with lots of individualized attention (only 16 guests are allowed at a time) and a relaxing atmosphere that helps you to reconnect to your best self.
For a Creative Boost
Spending so much time with tablets, smart phones, and televisions has potentially impacted your ability to tap into your creativity, which is where an outdoor wellness retreat comes in handy. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors and surrounded by nature can lead to better creative problem-solving skills, something everyone could use a little more of in their lives.
Try: Sugar Ridge, Midland, ON
This year-round Ontario centre offers 150 acres of beautiful maple forest scenery and 25 kilometers of trails ready to explore, where creativity is bound to strike. There are individual retreats specifically for writers and artists, as well as overall sessions aimed at those who are looking to reconnect to their inner selves.
For Peace of Mind
If you’re looking for some soulful enlightenment that skips the “eat” part of Eat Pray Love, a meditation retreat could be beneficial. Mindful meditation has been linked to a slew of health benefits over the years, from stress reduction and better cognitive performance to overall physical well-being and improved mental health.
Try: Dhamma Surabhi Vipassana Meditation Centre, Merrit, BC
The 9,300-square-foot centre exists solely for people to practice the traditional Vipassana meditation technique, which is basically a long inner reflection to help you see things the way they really are. It’s self-transformation through self-observation, if you will.
For Serious Yogis
Downward dogs and tree poses have officially made their way into modern society—and for good reason: there are myriad health benefits linked to yoga, including increased flexibility, better muscle strength and tone, a more balanced metabolism, better cardio and circulatory health, and more vitality, for starters. But practicing yoga is also a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety while promoting relaxation, which makes it the perfect choice for a wellness retreat.
Try: Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, Val-Morin, QC
If you’re looking to get your savasana on while surrounded by a beautiful setting and like-minded folk, this spot flexes all of the right muscles. The hatha yoga camp offers a variety of yoga-centric vacations and retreats that are designed to increase blood flow and awareness while centering the mind.
For a Plant-based Detox
There have been plenty of food fads over the years, but it seems as though plant-based diets are here to stay. Not only does going vegan help the planet in terms of sustainability, but eating a plant-based diet has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, help prevent chronic disease, lower the body mass index, and help fight heart disease.
Try: Grail Springs, Bancroft, ON
With so much going on in life, who has time to plan every single morsel of food you put in your mouth? Enter this plant-based retreat in Bancroft, ON, which offers 2-to-21-day package retreats to feed the tummy and soul. Add in the potential for yoga classes, spa treatments, and guided hikes, and this retreat sounds like the perfect spot to indulge while hitting all of those healthy cornerstones.
For the Budget Conscious
Taking time off helps to increase your productivity, lower stress, and achieve better mental health, but that doesn’t mean everyone in need of a break can afford to visit an actual wellness retreat. Enter the staycation, an inexpensive but healthy way to reflect, recover, and recharge. Book a week off work or plan to have no plans one weekend, and then focus on your own wellness.
For some people, that could include diving into that novel that’s been collecting dust on the nightstand. For others, a relaxing bath and pedicure could do the trick. Taking time to journal is a great way to connect with your inner thoughts and feelings (while also potentially strengthening your immunity), and booking a healthy lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time can go a long way in fuelling the soul. Unplug from devices, TVs, and social media for some true quiet time, and head outdoors for a hike (pack plenty of sunscreen, of course). Or lounge in bed with your favourite snacks and binge-watch a show you’ve been dying to dig into.
As long as you’re taking the time to reconnect with yourself and relax, wellness should follow.