Take a personal retreat to refresh, recharge, and take care of yourself in a new way. Here’s how.
Are You Experiencing Burn-Out?
Have you ever experienced burn out? Burn out is total exhaustion, but even more than that, it’s a lack of desire and motivation. When ignored, burn out can lead to loss of creativity, physical illness, and even depression.
I love what I do with a passion and seem to have endless energy when it comes to writing blogs for The Holy Mess, studying how to run a website, creating new products, speaking, and running my online business, Faithful Finish Lines, with my partner Becky.
Add this to my roles as a pastor’s wife and mom of 5. I juggle a lot.
We read endlessly about how it’s bad to be busy, but I like being active. I feel best when I am crossing items off my to-do list. I feel great and my energy level is good almost all the time.
So this spring, I was surprised when I began to notice I was creeping toward the edges of burn out, especially in regard to my writing and video creation.
The signs were subtle at first. I found myself putting off writing. I would look at my growing to-do list with a small sense of dread rather than my previous enthusiasm.
I realized right away that I needed to take a break, and not just a day or two, but an honest-to-goodness vacation. As soon as I started considering a personal retreat I knew this was what I needed, because I got excited.
How to Know if You Need a Get-Away
You might need a personal vacation if:
- You are a high-achieving person
- You are juggling many roles in your life
- You are in ministry
- You are a care giver
- Your job or hobby require creativity and passion
- You are an entrepreneur
A personal retreat can range all the way from a one day get-away to a week at a spa. Much of this is determined by how realistic it is for you to get away and what your budget can handle. I wanted to pay for my retreat myself so as not to burden our family budget, so my retreat was modest in cost but high in time-away factor.
Still, I’d never done anything like this before and spending money on hotel, food, and making all the necessary arrangements definitely felt indulgent.
Last week I was talking to a friend who is a mom of ten kids – yes, 10! – about Sunday afternoon naps (which I feel are a requirement of life) and she said she still feels guilty when she takes one.
We must stop this guilt when it comes to taking care of ourselves. If there’s anything my 100 lb weight loss has taught me, it’s that taking care of me IS taking care of other people.
Here’s What Happened When I Took a Personal Retreat
Once I decided to take a personal retreat, I was all-in and looked forward to it for weeks.
Here is what my personal retreat looked like:
- One week total fast from all social media.
- Help was accepted. My assistant managed my inbox and social media while I was gone.
- One week of no website work.
- Two nights away at a hotel in the beautiful New York Finger Lakes areas. My husband joined me for the second night.
My only agenda for my time away was this: eat when you want, sleep when you want, do what you want. This, my friends, was a bit weird at first but oh so fabulous.
I also gave myself permission to let go of expectations. My hope was that God would reveal to me plans for my future business, but if that didn’t happen it was okay. My hope is that I would come back into my business energized and full of creative new ideas, but if that didn’t happen it was okay.
Here’s what I did.
- I hiked.
- I slept.
- I prayed.
- I listened.
- I read – sweet cheesy romances, too, no business or self-improvement allowed.
- I relaxed.
Do You Need to Take a Personal Retreat? (Plus Directions for a Mini-Retreat)
If you are thinking, “Must be nice but I can’t get away like that,” please allow me to challenge you. Yes, you can. There is absolutely a way for anyone to take a personal retreat in some form.
Your personal retreat can be inexpensive or even cost nothing.
- You can spend a day at a park with a book and a picnic lunch.
- Ask a friend if you can spend the night in her guest room and not be disturbed.
- Is there a Christian camp nearby? I bet they have reasonable accommodations.
Your personal retreat can be one day off work or responsibilities, or stretch it to several days if at all possible. For years I thought there was no way I could take time away from my children with special needs. If you are a care giver, this is a tough spot because it might seem like there is no one else who can step into your role. The honest reality is that none of us in indispensable. If you got a sudden case of appendicitis, someone would step in, right? If you care for someone 24/7, you probably need a personal retreat the most.
Expect this to take some planning. I spent a couple months getting things ready to so that my website, social media, advocate job and household would run smoothly while I was gone. Trust me, this can seem a bit daunting but it’s worth it for you to prevent months or even years of burn out looking into the future.
Have you taken a personal retreat before? What did you do? Share in the comments below.
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For the first time ever I have scheduled a Christian retreat, just to get away from it all and focus on God. I am going to Colorado. I will be hiking, reading my Bible and spending time in nature. I planned this trip about a year ago. It has been something I really wanted to do but never could seem to find the time or money. This year I just said to myself you will NEVER have the time or money, so just do it and I booked the trip. I think I will come back a new woman. My husband has been so supportive of this trip. I hope that he and I can do it together in the future.
Oh how exciting! Please let me know how the experience is for you, Leslie. I am praying you grow closer to God through your experience, rest, and feel revived. I am sure it will be awesome.
Debbie Acosta says
I loved your thoughts on a retreat, and so so loved the picture of you by the small creek. That had to be refreshing in itself. I am 70 and I don’t have the extra responsibilities like I did when I raised my family and some of my grandkids, however today I felt exhausted, so I took an hour nap. It was so helpful to let myself take this time to rest.
Hooray for naps! I LOVE naps.
Mrs Livingston says
Love this post. I’ve done girls trips, and trips with my husband, but never a personal retreat. Will definitely do this before the end of 2023. Thank you.
Let me know how it goes for you!
I really like this post. I think you presented it so well. I’m so glad you could get away, and I like your low to no cost ideas. My husband and I spent one night away. It had been way too long. It was a lot of work to get ready for, but it was so worth it! I could literally feel myself relaxing, as the weight of daily responsibilities was lifted. It was short, but it was sweet!
Mich Adams says
Thank you for the reminder that we all need “self care”. Do you have any recommended resources on Mindfulness that are faith based?
I am thankful that you were able to get away and refresh. Thank for you sharing your inspiration with us.
I am so glad you were able to get away! It sounds lovely and I really enjoyed seeing the pictures from your retreat time.