Life is stressful. Between work, school, the rain gutter you were supposed to clean last weekend, and the third delayed train this week—we all have increasingly packed schedules with little time to ourselves, little time to just stop and breathe. After a while, the constant movement of it all becomes too much, and we begin to toy with the idea of having an Eat Pray Love moment: casting aside all of our attachments and responsibilities to find peace and quiet at an ashram in India.
Sadly, not many of us lead lives that we can just walk away from. But thankfully, a rising alternative to skipping town with Julia Roberts is a wellness retreat. Wellness retreats are short-term, residential programs that promote well-being through physical, psychological, or spiritual activities.
They can be a little pricey depending on the venue. However, the retreats themselves are not dependent on venue, instructor, or the accompanying price tag. One can find the recipe to a great wellness retreat just by looking around their own neighbourhood. Communities like the Danforth are well equipped for those who only have one day off and a couple of dollars to spare.
From yoga to healthy dining, and to everything in between—here is how you can have your own one-day wellness retreat without spending loads of cash, or even having to leave the Danforth:
Location: Your home
The releasing ceremony is where you start your day. For most of us, this is at home. If you still have responsibilities in the morning such as getting kids off to school, go ahead and do that. When you’re finally alone, find a quiet place to reflect.
Step one, make a list of things that bring you stress and write them all down. On this sheet of paper is where your stress shall remain until you return to it.
Step two, try some deep breathing exercises. A favourite of mine is breathing in for four counts, and out for four counts. Repeat this a few times until you feel calm.
Step three, create a few positive affirmations for yourself in the form of “I will” statements. Things that you can remind yourself throughout the day, such as, “I will accept what I cannot change,” and “I will practice patience and understanding with others as well as myself.”
Location: The Danforth
Your land journey is your walking route for the day. Comparable to a nature walk, the goal here is to be mindful of your surroundings. Instead of focusing on that deadline at work or the emails you need to send off—breathe in the air, notice which trees are budding, focus on being present in the moment and be aware of your surroundings.
To be clear, you can drive or take transit. However, walking the land journey is an important aspect of this solo retreat, so strap on a comfortable pair of shoes and get to walking.
Location: Motiv Fitness & Pilates (842 Danforth Ave, Toronto)
Yoga is a practice that brings the mind and body together. Studies suggest that yoga has the ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation while improving overall quality of life. Motiv Fitness and Pilates offers Yoga classes for every level: Align, Thrive, and Challenge. Their Align Yoga classes are slow-paced and focuses on learning the correct positions, while their challenge level classes are, well, a challenge.
Location: Green Earth Vegan Cuisine (804 Danforth Ave, Toronto)
To re-nourish the body after physical activity, Green Earth Vegan Cuisine is a great place to stop. Soups, salads, rice dishes, burgers, and sandwiches are on the menu. This is a vegan restaurant but before my fellow omnivores start to groan, their extensive menu makes it easy to find something that you’ll like, even if you’re not too keen on vegan dishes. The pros here are the fact that you will reap the benefits of those nutrient filled veggies while also reducing your carbon footprint. Essentially, it adds a bit of mindfulness to the way we eat.
Location: The Big Carrot Community Market (348 Danforth Ave, Toronto)
Finally, pampering yourself is a great way to unwind at the end of the day. “For me,” says Steve of The Big Carrot Community Market, “nothing says pampering like a relaxing soak in a warm bath and a luxurious face mask.”
After all, our bodies are the vessels through which we traverse this earth. Taking care of the physical is just as important as the spiritual and psychological. Steve says, “for the bath soak, I would recommend local company Crawford Street’s Mineral Bath Relax ($19.99), that combines dead sea salt and lavender buds.” And for the face mask, “a real treat comes from the company, 100% Pure, with their Green Tea Water Bomb ($7.99); a sheet mask rich in polyphenols, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid.” Take these two items home and treat yourself. You can also re-visit a few of the morning routines, such as deep breathing or repeating positive affirmations, while soaking in the tub.