When asked why we’re not taking better care of ourselves in the throes of work and life, “ain’t nobody got time for that” seems to come as the most common excuse. This is hardly surprising, and if we’re honest, totally relatable. In this digital universe where we’re constantly bombarded by superfluous information on screens from all directions, taking time to disconnect can be truly difficult. Which is why, in modern life, burnout has become the birthplace of many disorders related to emotional and mental imbalances such as anxiety, stress, and depression.
To break loose from the gruelling reality that’s our collective days, most of us turn to quick fixes. This may mean a glass of wine in the evening, a really satisfying meal, or good old retail therapy. But over the past decade, even more have turned to the respite that wellness retreats offer.
Granted everyone’s ideal vacay may be different, generally, people tend to be motivated by the same intentions whenever they decide to take off for their R&R. And seeing how there are so many types of travels and destinations to explore, what’s a ‘wellness retreat’ really, and more importantly, why is it commonplace for the contemporary traveller these days?
The Great Escape: Retreats Are the New Vacation
Wellness retreats are not a new concept, especially to this part of our world. Many Asian cultures take pride in fleshing out their history of holistic healing, which includes self-care courses that hone – well, you. Whether you’re uninitiated or seasoned, surely you’ve heard something of the benefits one can reap off such retreats.
On my wishlist of wellness retreats to take in the future is one of those Vipassana ones in India’s Himalayan ranges. There’s just something about living out-of-touch with the world, clearly out of your element amidst snow-capped mountains, dreamy blue skies, running stream, fresh air and nature that holds reverberating magic over our states of being. It allows you to hold personal space to ask important questions: who am I, why am I here, and what is my ikigai in life? Though these aren’t exactly the easiest to ask yourself, it creates opportunities to understand yourself better. It allows you to listen to yourself, away from the din of life back in the real world. And hopefully, with your reflection, something truly purposeful comes out of your time at the retreat.
Having said that, wellness retreats are not limited to Asia, of course. There are countless getaways around the world specialising in a broad swath of niches. There’s something for everyone: body sculpting, clean eating, yoga and meditation, creating vision boards – you can even check yourself into a recovery centre for terrible break-ups.
Before you think wellness retreats are all about that ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ life – spoiler: it’s actually hard work.
Such wholesome adventures are usually nestled in the crossroads of travel and well-being, riding on the self-care movement that’s rampant in the zeitgeist of our times. It’s also become synonymous to living that holistic high life. But regardless of the type of retreats you choose, they typically focus on self-improvement with a generous side of healthful food and personal time to work upon yourself.
Which is why, if you think checking yourself into wellness retreat for a week means you’ll emerge at the end of it a wholly changed person just like that, you can’t be more wrong. Working upon ourselves, so stuck in our toxic ways of living in this fast-paced society, is no easy feat. So before you sign yourself up to a retreat of your dreams, know that you’re most likely going to work a lot more – even if not physically, definitely emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually as you suddenly have all this time and space in your hands to focus on nobody and nothing else but yourself. Truth be told, it can be quite confronting. After all, you didn’t think decades of being fixed in your own ways (good or bad) can be unravelled in just several days, did you?
You see, the thing about wellness retreats – it’s like a life hack that gives you the essential tools so when you go back to the real world, you can integrate this newfound luminosity that’s a wiser perspective into your everyday living. Don’t let your rose-tinted fantasies of wellness retreats cloud its reality of next-level commitment.
The Lasting Allure of Escapism on Modern Living
In the lightness of spirit, the main reason why people turn to wellness retreats is really that their weary souls need time and space to recharge, away from the cacophonous din of modern living. As society progresses, unfortunately, we tend to become more uptight about everything. We sweat the small stuff. We’re fatigued from all that early mornings and OTs. We’re virtually overconnected all the time. Inevitably, all these take a toll on our physical health, appearance, mental and emotional well-being after years on years of such cyclical lifestyles.
Wellness retreats, whatever incarnations it come in, promise cures of modern ailments. The idea that going somewhere new to focus on the self can reduce stress and relieve one from the clutches of life’s harsh demands. It can even effect total transformation.
Beyond these fancy promises though, what presides over people’s ultimate decisions to attend a wellness retreat is the allure of escapism. The desire to escape from the daily stressors of contemporary living, as it turns out, is a modern phenomenon. Back in our grandparents’ days, it was almost unheard of for people to go to voluntary retreats. Granted they may be less capable financially to do so, as the booming industry of retreats (worth $639 billion in 2018) tends to target the affluent who has time and money to devote to uninterrupted nourishment. Or perhaps it’s truly a cultural obsession with quick fixes that’s the reason why wellness retreats are trending. Because overhauling your day-to-day life feels too overwhelming, people look to temporary means to get away.
So maybe, it’s not such a bad thing to escape once in a while when you truly need it. Though a solution based on escapism isn’t a lasting one, the nature of escaping to a distant land to find yourself and emerging reborn as a changed person sounds like an odyssey that everyone should at least try once in their lifetime.
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