You don't have to travel to a far-flung (read: $$$) destination to do a little self-care.
Why You Should Plan a DIY Wellness Staycation
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Hectic, self-inflicted schedules. Commitments pulling you this way and that. Unopened emails. Projects piling up. Sound familiar? How about trading in all of that for spa services, beach yoga sessions, reiki healing, mindfulness lectures, and award-winning healthy food chefs? It's no wonder luxury wellness retreats have become so popular. But, let's be honest, jet-setting to a remote destination for a little self-care every time you need it (which is basically all the time) is not exactly feasible. The good news is that you don't need a millionaire's budget or a freelancer's schedule to get away. You can save money and plan your own "getaway" wellness retreat weekend from the comfort of your hometown. Here's how.
Try New Fitness Classes
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Since exercise is such a fundamental part of wellness, most wellness retreats have some workout class component. When planning your own wellness retreat, you can sign up for whatever drop-in class you've been meaning to try but have been putting off because you don't have the time or feel like it's an indulgence. Yoga is a popular offering at luxury destinations since vacation is all about de-stressing. Opt for a Yoga Nidra class—it's the perfect option for a wellness weekend because it includes a guided sleep meditation to take your Savasana to a whole new level. (New to yoga? Here's what you need to know about the different types of yoga available to you.)
Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images
Eat Well (or Even Better)
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Farm-to-table, vegetarian, organic, holistic, or clean cuisine are the norm at exotic wellness retreats. Sometimes a trip's itinerary also includes activities like healthy cooking classes or demonstrations. Set aside a few days to cook healthy, nutrient-rich meals (such as these giant dinner-worthy salads), then see how great your body feels when you take the time to fuel it right. Use this staycation to make something you normally wouldn't have the time for. (Beef Wellington, anyone?) Or if you want to improve your kitchen skills, sign up for a cooking class that appeals to you, like a homemade pasta or sushi class.
Host a Gathering
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Just because you're taking time for yourself doesn't mean you have to spend it alone. One of the benefits of going to a retreat is meeting fellow vacation-goers, with time set aside for social gatherings. Make an effort to attend an event that will allow you to meet new people. Meetup.com lets you browse events in your area categorized by interests like film, dining, or writing.
Book Spa Treatments
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Arguably the best part of wellness retreats is the ability to book back-to-back spa treatments and feel zero regret about taking up your whole day to get pampered. Put in some time at your local spa for a massage (and reap all the mental and physical benefits). Or if you want to create the zen experience at home, light some candles, apply a mask, and take an extra-long bubble bath.
Take a Hike
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Retreats usually take place in a natural setting where there are opportunities for outdoor activities. Trails.com makes finding hiking paths near you really easy so you can plan an excursion. If you live too far from any trails, find a park where you can take a walk (or make one of these pretty, portable mason jar meals and have a little picnic). The important thing is to just get out there in the fresh air. There are a slew of health benefits associated with spending time outside, even if it's not for long. One study even showed that standing barefoot in the grass can reduce your cardiovascular risk.
Plan Fun Activities
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If you want your staycation weekend to be more summer camp than beach retreat, consider scheduling adventurous outdoor activities instead of lots and lots of R&R. Active excursions are often a part of the more fitness-focused retreats, so get out of your comfort zone and try a local rock-climbing outing or group kayak tour. Groupon and Gilt City are useful resources for discovering things to do in your area. Browse the site for deals on activities like horseback riding or stand-up paddleboarding lessons near you.
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It might sound like torture at first, but some retreat organizers insist that participants try to stay silent and away from tech as much as possible. To try it yourself at home, you can spend a few days avoiding extraneous conversation, or try going on a digital detox. It may be hard, but spending a few days away from technology can do wonders for your well-being. (For starters, it can improve the quality of your downtime, so you'll feel more relaxed even after your staycation.) Set an out-of-office email like you're on vacation and then try your best not to peek at your devices. Going on a digital detox can help you feel fresh and more connected to the real world.
Pencil In Some Meditation
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Sometimes taking time out of your day for meditation can seem like a luxury. (See: 9 Stress Relief Tips for Busy People Who Don't Have Time to Meditate.) There are a ton of bonuses to regular meditation, like lowered stress and improved sleep quality. If you've never practiced before, guided meditation is a great place to start. Sign up for a class or download an app like Headspace, which makes meditation doable for beginners.