Finding your balance

Planning your next vacation? A health retreat could be the perfect way to completely unwind and pamper your body and soul.

Words: Beth Anderson

A 2011 study conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS), found that stress levels among Australians are on the rise, with more than 12 percent of respondents to the online survey revealing they battle a level of distress considered to be in the severe range1.

And how do we deal with this stress? According to the survey, many of us turn to a range of vices, such as television, food and – in the case of 40 percent of respondents – alcohol, to dissipate the pressures of everyday life1. Unfortunately, such tactics often amplify, rather than alleviate, the problem.

Checking in to a health retreat may be a more constructive way of treating the symptoms of stress. Retreats offer a chance to unwind, shut out the rest of the world and indulge in a bit of ‘me time’ – all the while shining a spotlight on your lifestyle and how it’s affecting your health.

Which retreat is right for you?

When contemplating your healthy holiday, consider what you want to achieve. Are you just looking to de-stress or do you have another goal in mind, such as improving your fitness or losing weight? There is a range of retreat options available, from yoga getaways and weight-loss or detoxification programs to business-oriented workshops and meditation courses.

At Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, located in a secluded region of Tallebudgera Valley, in the hinterland of Queensland’s famous Gold Coast, guests can choose from more than 13 different programs, covering health and wellness, stress and resilience, and nutrition and movement. According to Gwinganna’s General Manager Sharon Kolkka, the objective is the same, regardless of the program you choose.

“Our aim is to provide the tools and knowledge for long-lasting benefits and inspire each guest to make their health a priority,” says Kolkka, a lifestyle specialist.

What to expect

Days generally start early and are filled with a diverse selection of activities. Exercise is common to most retreats, with options ranging from yoga or Pilates to more challenging pursuits, such as rock climbing or mountain biking. Many retreats offer workshops on themes that run the gamut of stress management, nutrition and sustainable living. Most also allow and encourage downtime for resting, relaxing with a book or indulging in a massage or pampering treatment.

The length of your stay will be determined by the outcome you are seeking – as well as the time and funds you’re willing to dedicate to the venture. While a retreat may not be the cheapest holiday option (prices generally start from about $2,000 a week), the investment in your wellbeing is worth it.

Resting, relaxing, the odd bit of gentle exercise – why aren’t we all doing this? “Slowing down is not generally easy for most of us anymore,” says Kolkka. “It can take a couple of days to settle in, so be patient.”  

Reference: 1 The Australian Psychological Society, ‘Stress and wellbeing in Australia in 2011: A state-of-the-nation survey’

Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.