I love juggling lots of different things day-to-day, it’s part of what makes life interesting. However, doing too much can, as we all well know, have adverse reactions on your physical and mental health. Though I often post positive, upbeat articles about artists, indie stores and experiences I love, we thought it might be time to open up a little and share an experience I recently had, along with some tips and info on a place I really rate.
Over the years, this blog has gone from strength to strength. However, it’s always been a passion balanced with hard work, be that freelance or full time. From planning and hosting events to creating content and collaborating with creatives from all over the world, running the blog can be a tough gig. Sometimes it’s easier to push too hard than simply pull back and often, fear of not succeeding or being as good at what I do as other people are can stand in the way of taking much-needed down time.
My weekend retreat
Usually, when you realise you’re exhausted, freaking out and done for it’s already too late. So, when I started feeling like things were getting too much, rather that doing what I usually do (throw myself into my work and have a melt down) I made the decision to check into a retreat for some much-needed rest and recovery. Honestly, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
My pick was a little-known spot in northern Spain called Healthouse Las Dunas, which offers the perfect balance of sunshine, fancy suites and spa facilities and important coaching, counselling and help with anything from healthy sleeping to healthy eating and relaxation.
At this getaway, everything is carefully considered, from the building’s closed-loop energy system to the recycled bottle tops on its own-brand natural beauty products. I enjoyed a special two-day programme tailored to my needs and though I was only visiting for a weekend, it was great to discover that Healthouse offers personalised itineraries for all of its visitors for stays of up to 21 days.
What is Healthouse Las Dunas?
Guests visit Heathouse for a programme of consultations and advice, tailored meals and health and beauty treatments, with a bit of yoga or Pilates beneath swaying palm trees thrown in. Though I’m all for sipping cocktails by the pool, this was less of a holiday and more an opportunity to work on our wellbeing so the no-booze rule didn’t bother me much. The calming, minimalist suites are the perfect antidote to a mad lifestyle or cluttered home office, and the fluffy robes and jacuzzi baths made for the perfect end to each day.
Everything at the retreat works in sync, so our Healthouse doctor figured out a brilliant itinerary that took into account my BMI, what I’d be eating and how I’d spend our days in order to eliminate stress and aid healthier sleep, habits and boost wellbeing. The whole place is adults only so you can make the most of exclusive time with professionals who know their stuff – and if they suggest plenty of massages, long walks along the beach and steam and sauna sessions, who am I to argue?
The labyrinthine marble Naturhouse spa houses anything from flotariams to a pink salt cave complete with aura lighting, so you can use your free time and recommended sessions to treat yourself. The spa circuit comes highly recommended, though take a deep breath before you brave the snowy ice cave – you’ll feel wonderfully fresh, if a little chilly, before stepping out.
The indoor pools and jacuzzis are perfect for a relaxing afternoon swim but if it’s sun-seeking you’re planning on doing, set up camp by the outdoor saltwater pool and gaze out at the calm sea until your next session with a lovely yoga instructor or sesh with one of the other health and beauty therapists.
Meals are served outside surrounded by tropical trees and flowers. It’s a personal affair with a set menu served by staff who’ll know exactly what your dietary requirements are, also taking note of your likes and dislikes and recommendations from the in-house doctor. The menu is certainly not laid out to restrict or leave you feeling hungry, rather to re-educate and highlight the importance of a healthy relationship with quality food in the right quantities.
Courses are small, original and delicious – prepared by two-Michelin-starred chef Andoni Luis Aduriz – with a zero salt and sugar rule. Alcohol is off the menu, too but between the sound of the sea, the wonderfully warm air and those powerful detox mocktails lulling you into the evening, you’re unlikely to mind.
Mental and physical health
Gentle exercise classes are sure to be on your to-do list, and we recommend the aqua gym sessions, too – great for low-impact resistance training and a bit of fun. If you feel like treating your body to some extra TLC, treatments like facials are available at the Ekilim spa but it’s likely there’ll be some massage sessions in your itinerary anyway so no need to book extra sessions unless you really fancy it. If you’ve already done enough exercise for one day, relax on velvet sofas with a magazine in the library or chill in one of the sunny courtyards or restaurant terrace and catch some rays.
As part of your weekend you’ll also have a session or two with an in-house psychologist. This will give you the opportunity to identify some of the things that are making you feel stressed or anxious and help you to tackle them when you get back home. It’s also nice to just get some stuff off your chest and have an objective ear to bend. The therapist will likely make some suggestions about how you can continue working on your mental health at home too so you can see this as the beginning of a journey, rather than a one off.
What I learned
After booking onto the Healthy Weekend, which includes two nights at the retreat and all meals, plus, sessions with a nutritionist, psychologist, beauty therapist, fitness professional and a personalised itinerary for the weekend, I really started to use my time more wisely. Having had minimal contact with technology – there’s plenty of wifi but I chose to unplug for the weekend – and spent more time doing productive, considered things in hour-long blocks, coming home to London to make a fresh start was something I was actually looking forward to.
Worries and anxieties more-or-less abated for the time being, it seems just two days of structured activity that acknowledges the importance of the self can really help with lessening what seems like an unmanageable load. So, if you’re feeling low, stressed, or just not taking proper care of yourself, I’d fully recommend a trip to Healthouse, where the experts can show you how to get back in touch with what matters and help you to organise your mind, love your bod and connect with what’s important to you.
Taking time out is a vital part of working productively and sometimes, it’s getting on a plane and checking into a place like this that really validates that time out and helps you to rest, recover and learn. So, if a weekend of Netflix on the sofa isn’t quite cutting it, try something that will.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @boogiemargaret