It’s All About You: Make Time for Reflection, Rest, and Renewal with a DIY Retreat

May 27, 2021 | 0 comments

Invest in yourself by making time for reflection, rest, and renewal. Using a do-it-yourself-style retreat, you can schedule it on your own time and do it for free.

The components to a successful retreat include attention to your spiritual, physical, and mental health. If you only have time to do a half-day retreat, reserve an hour for each part. For a full-day retreat, allot two hours to each part.

It takes a little planning so you aren’t hassled by incidentals when you begin. Plan your meals ahead of time so they are prepared and easily accessible. Set out your journal and pens. Avoid your computer to record thoughts and ideas because it is the gateway to distractions. Choose a location. Your home is fine if it (or others living there) will not sidetrack you. You can even pre-plan music you’d like to use so you don’t waste time searching for the right soundtrack for your day.


There are as many faith journeys, beliefs, and practices as there are stars in the sky, but every one of them recommends meditative silence to connect with a power outside of the self. For many, this will be the hardest part of the retreat because it requires that we “be” instead of “do.” Start by setting an intention for the time, such as, “I want to strengthen my faith,” or “I want to explore spirituality,” or “I want more peace in my life.” Move into quiet time in a comfortable position with a simple breathing exercise that allows you to be aware of your breath; example, four beats in, hold for two, four beats out. Have a word or a phrase that you can mentally repeat to return to your intention if your mind wanders. If you have never meditated before, try 10 minutes to start, stretch your body for a few minutes, then try 10 minutes more. Journal about any ideas that come up or any questions raised that you want to explore.


Take this time to do your favorite workout, take a nature walk, swim, do a series of stretching exercises, or dance to your favorite mix. You could also do your favorite at-home body pampering treatment. It will be important to notice how your body reacts. Journal briefly about what you experienced physically and note any issues you want to revisit. This might include doctors you want to see, new exercise routines you want to try, a sport you’d like to explore, how the pampering felt, etc.  


This final part can be used as a type of personal strategic planning session. Use your journal to record areas of your life you feel need a review. Rank them in order of importance to you and choose the top three to five. Examples include current struggles, life purpose, work, family, social life, fears, interests, finances, dreams, goals, and work/life balance. The beauty of a DIY retreat is that you set the areas to be explored. A simple worksheet to complete for each of these areas would include a sentence about the area to be reviewed, issues around this area, a goal, measurable action steps, and dates for completion which you will add to your calendar and adjust as needed.   

Sample: I want to change careers. The barriers to changing careers are financial. The reasons to change careers are financial and emotional. The careers I want to explore changing to are (make a list). I will change my career within the next three years. I will determine the short- and long-term costs involved in changing careers by (enter the date). I will begin any necessary training by (add your start date). I will find a mentor in this new career by (add the date). I will begin searching for a job in this new career by (add your goal date).

Overall, be gentle with yourself on your retreat. Emotions can arise that have been kept under wraps just to keep moving through hard days. Be wary of any negative self-talk that may arise. Work through hard issues with a trusted friend or mentor. If you feel yourself getting stuck in one of the three areas, don’t give up the whole day. Leave that part to return to when you feel ready.

At the day’s end, acknowledge the good you have done for yourself. With only the cost of the time you spend and the intention you bring, you are giving your spirit, body, and mind the attention they deserve.  

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The Future of Connection for Women

Allison Olson

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