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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

By now we’ve all heard of wellness retreats as an alternative to traditional vacations.  A simple internet search for “wellness retreat” renders countless options. Words like “disconnecting,” “likeminded people,” “transformation” and the ever so popular, “self-care” dominate the search results.  As busy New Yorkers, the wellness retreat seems like a smart, relaxing and rewarding option. The pitch is: “Instead of using your very limited vacation days to travel to a hectic city, why not use those days to relax, unwind and get healthy?!”  However, there are many factors to consider before going ahead and clicking 'confirm purchase' on that wellness retreat.  

Wellness is Work

The concept of a “retreat” can be deceiving.  Of course, there are many different varieties of retreats out there, but depending on the type of retreat you choose, you may find that focusing on yourself for an extended period of time can be one of the most challenging tasks you’ve ever attempted. One wellness writer who attended Beloved Playa Mujeres' Wellness Week in Mexico noted that when trying to fall asleep during her wellness retreat, she found herself thinking, “This is your only chance to achieve wellness, so you'd better get back to sleep right now so you don't mess up your day tomorrow.” Wellness retreats often provide ample opportunity for the participant to gain self-acceptance and gain valuable insight into our personal lives, which, unfortunately, can be the most difficult thing for some of us. We sometimes forget that wellness is tough work.  

Decisions, Decisions…

Similar to a traditional vacation, there are numerous choices you’re faced with before booking your next wellness retreat.  Do you want to go with a group of friends? Or do you think it would be better for you to put yourself out there, and meet new people?  How far are you willing to travel? What type of location are you looking to visit? What kind of retreat leader are you looking for, an energetic coach like Jillian Michaels or someone more laid back?  Are you interested in trying a full vegan retreat, a juice cleanses, or are you less concerned about food offerings? Do you want to get in touch with nature? How much do you want to spend? Are you looking to rough it, or go glamping?

What Happens When Reality Sets In?

This is the most important consideration.  Have you ever booked a facial and thought, “after this, my skin is going to be smooth and ageless and everyone will notice how great my skin looks!!”  And then reality sets in…you leave the spa, and your skin looks the same as it did before, except it’s kind of red and blotchy, and now you’re out $100 or more.  This can be particularly frustrating; I know from firsthand experience.

Let’s face it, we all have these grandiose visions of what will happen when we come back from our wellness retreat.  We hope that somehow, after a week or two away with a trained Yogi will bring us inner peace and make us into new, refreshed, and revived beings.  Unfortunately, that might work for some, but it’s not the reality for everyone. Once you re-enter the grind and everyday demands of your chaotic New York City life, you may find that all the inner peace you’ve achieved over the two weeks has gone out the window. Returning home from a getaway is tough, no matter where you decide to use those precious vacation days. While you’re away, you must focus on how to bring some of the wellness patterns home with you. Maybe it means incorporating aerobic exercise into your daily routine, preparing raw food for your meals, or creating another sustainable meal plan that fits your lifestyle. Whatever it may be, make sure that the retreat you choose provides an opportunity for you to learn long-lasting habits, otherwise, it will end up being just another expensive vacation.

Try an “At Home” Wellness Retreat Before You Book

Maybe you’re not ready to make the commitment and pull the trigger on a wellness retreat.  You may want to try planning one from your own apartment first. Many sources offer “DIY” guides to planning your wellness retreat from home.  Here in Manhattan, we have access to a lot of the same offerings you would find on a wellness retreat: an endless assortment of fitness classes; beautiful nature views (think Central Park!); cooking courses with a high variety of cuisines to choose from, and meditation centers.  Check out Shape’s “How to Plan a Staycation Wellness Retreat at Home” for some great tips on how to plan your next at home wellness retreat!