I’ve spent the last 5 years retreating for myself.
What does that mean exactly? A few things:
- I’ve physically retreated away from my family, home and normal environment.
- I’ve mentally retreated away from daily desires, demands and distractions.
- I’ve emotionally retreated into a new space that helps me become more in tune with my true self.
By doing so, I’ve become more aware, alive and at peace. We’ll dig into that shortly, but first, let’s start with why we retreat.
Let’s start with WHY
Whether we realize it or not, most of us take on way more than we can handle. This is especially true for entrepreneurs, leaders, high achievers and parents. We’re wired to take on all kinds of things in our lives, which create stress that we’re often not even aware of.
Stress isn’t always bad or negative, it’s simply a force or pressure we experience. We all accumulate stress in different ways – physically, mentally, emotionally and behaviorally.
To that extent, we normally suppress the stress we take on without a healthy system to also release it. In other words, most of us are out of balance and take in more stress than we release. This suppressed stress builds up over time and starts to affect the way we operate.
- We can become tired, fatigued and overwhelmed from too much stress.
- We can become ill or vulnerable to more disease from too much stress.
- We can become emotionally unstable and volatile from too much stress.
As you’ve probably heard, stress can kill people. It’s no joke. And that’s precisely why we need healthy systems to release it.
Retreats are one of the most powerful and effective ways to release stress.
That’s not the only reason to retreat but it’s certainly one of the most common benefits.
Benefits of Retreats
Every time I retreat I pay attention to my level of stress before and after the retreat. Without question, I come back with less stress. The internal pressure I feel is decreased, and sometimes, even lifted. It’s fair to say I always feel lighter when I return from a retreat.
Some other benefits of retreating include:
- A renewed sense of energy, focus and internal peace
- Clarity on my current priorities
- Deeper gratitude for people and things in my life
By stepping out of our normal routine and environment, we’re able to see things from a different perspective. We’re able to feel things we couldn’t feel. We’re able to reset, recharge. and refocus.
A retreat is stepping back with the intention of coming back better.
In other words, we retreat so that we can advance.
Types of Retreats
Retreats can come in different forms and durations. They don’t always have to be long or extravagant either. In fact, it’s possible to take a retreat every day if you design your lifestyle in ways that support it. Here are a few common ways to retreat.
Week long Retreat
Week long retreats are arguably the most effective and life-changing. This offers an opportunity to leave your normal physical environment for 7 days, which allows you to fully immerse yourself in a new experience. After day 3 you will typically sense a shift in how you think, feel and operate. You will have an opportunity to really be with yourself and forget the desires, demands and distractions in your normal environment.
These are also the most challenging retreats to commit to. We come up with all kinds of excuses around why we cannot leave “normal life” for an entire week. These excuses simply come from fear. Fear of letting others down, fear of what we might experience, and all kinds of other fears.
However, that fear is exactly why we need to retreat. A week long retreat is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself if you choose to overcome the fear and create space for yourself. You will learn new things, feel new feelings, and come back with a shift in how you operate. As a result, you will also reduce a lot of stress you’re carrying.
A weekend retreat is the probably the most common. This involves leaving your normal physical environment for 2-3 days, which also allows for an immersive experience. A full weekend experience can often give us a needed reset including some of the benefits listed above.
This is a great place to start if you’ve never taken a retreat. It’s less scary while still giving you some space to disconnect. It can also be a great precursor to a full week long retreat.
Some common weekend retreats include:
- Adventure retreats
- Community retreats
- Leadership retreats
- Yoga retreats
The point is to break your normal routine for a few days. Similar to a week long retreat, you will likely come back with less stress and a renewed sense of focus.
Finally, there’s the daily retreat. This involves a mini escape from your normal environment, whether it be mental or physical. These can be creatively designed to fit your lifestyle. For example:
- If you live close to nature you can take a quick hike or bike ride.
- If you live in a big city you can practice a quick meditation or yoga.
- If you live in the suburbs you can take a peaceful walk or nap.
Again, the point of the daily retreat is to break your normal pattern without having to physically leave your normal environment. Daily retreats are a great alternative and supplement to longer retreats.
Daily retreats can also be free and available to virtually anyone. This eliminates the fear and excuse factors. Daily retreats are a matter of choice and commitment. In other words, we have to prioritize them to yield the benefits. By creating daily space for ourselves, we can start to operate with less stress and better energy.
Everyone Should Retreat
I rarely use the word “should,” especially in this context. I don’t like telling people what they should or shouldn’t do unless advice is asked for. I call them should bombs.
That said, retreats are something I believe we can all benefit from. Why? Because we all need space for ourselves, and retreats are a powerful way to do that. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you have 1 kid or 7 kids, you have a job or own 12 businesses… fill in the blank. No matter who you are and what you do, I believe you need space for yourself. Period.
So consider giving yourself the gift of a retreat.
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Ali is a creator and coach who's passionate about guiding people to their truth. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people realize their most authentic life. He's a family man, entrepreneur, conscious technologist, explorer, podcast host and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.