Close on the heels of tip #1, unplugging, is #2- retreating. In our culture, words like vacation, retreat, and sanctuary have almost become dirty little words. They’re the new forbidden fruit in the Garden. They smack of something luxurious, something indulgent, something only rich people do. Something selfish.
But the reality is, taking time for yourself is about the healthiest thing you can do. This is particularly true for women, who expend so much of their energy outward. If you don’t slow down, connect with your deeper self, and cultivate an ongoing relationship with yourself, you can’t ever really be with or give to anyone else. Moreover, if you constantly succumb to the endless doing and surrender to the idea that chronic stress is normal, you can quite literally make yourself ill.
A quick caveat: it’s incredibly easy to confuse the activities of self-care with actually slowing down. A massage, a yoga class, even a morning meditation can easily become just another must-do activity in your busy to-do list. Sanctuary and retreat are not physical places. They are not activities. They are not some kind of Mists-of-Avalon –fleeting-moments-of-Zen that few ever grasp. Sanctuary and retreat are a state of mind, a philosophy, and an ongoing commitment to SLOW DOWN. To LISTEN. To BE STILL. To be with the what is of life in an effort to live a more peaceful adventure.
What retreat is:
-A refuge from chronic stress
-A proven way of nurturing for your body, mind, and spirit
-A haven from self-criticism and negative thought
-A place to shut out the incessant noise of our world
-A chance to gain clarity and release destructive patterns
-A mental space to absorb the information you have taken in
-Secular, spiritual, or religious- whatever works best for you
What retreat is not:
-Escape from real life
-Self indulgent or selfish
-A superfluous self-indulgent luxury
-A nice but unnecessary way to spend 5 minutes, an hour, a day, or two weeks
-Impossible to fit in
A retreat need not be:
-A physical location you have to travel to
– Secular, spiritual, or religious (but it can be any of these things-truly whatever works for you)
In a world of perpetual Twitter and 24-hour everything, to take time to create your own sanctuary in your everyday life and to commit to ‘Radical Self Care’ is to be part of a revolutionary movement. Take the time today to redefine and recreate the retreat in your own life. You might be amazed how quickly you start to resemble yourself again.