Canada, Toronto, Wellness

7-Step Guide to Planning Your Own Self-Care Retreat

Those who have followed my last few posts would have joined me on my impromptu 4-day self-care retreat in Toronto.

Day 1 – Indulge

Day 2 – Move

Day 3 – Relax

Day 4 – Accomplish

For those who prefer the TL;DR version, here is it. You, too, can plan your own self-care retreat either in a destination a short trip away or in your own city, by following these steps as a guide!

  1. Reflect
    • We are often overstimulated in modern society, always looking at our phones, checking our emails, and catching up on social media. Take some time to just sit and meditate. Or perhaps reflect upon your life and think about what you want out of it. Maybe sit down and take a look at Alex Vermeer’s 8760 guide. The effects of this persists beyond the time I spent completing this exercise. I continue to review this regularly and it has allowed me to make significant, positive changes to my life.
  2. Step outside your comfort zone
    • Try something new, whether it’s using a new airline, tasting a new type of food, trying on clothes that you would usually not find in your closet or talking to a stranger. Our daily routines can become soul-sucking. Going away helps us change our perspective. Trying new things help to shake up the monotony in our lives. Talking to someone who may be very different from us can help us gain insight from others.
  3. Indulge (in moderation)
    • Treat yourself. Make a reservation to a nice restaurant and enjoy yourself a little. It is always very exciting to be able to indulge a little. You don’t have to overeat or emotional-eat. You also don’t have to splurge on impulsive purchases. What I am saying is that it is ok to indulge once in a while.
      Truffled fried rice, crispy duck wings, and and sweet and sour pork hock from DaiLo @ Assembly Chef's Hall
      Truffled fried rice, crispy duck wings, and and sweet and sour pork hock from DaiLo @ Assembly Chef’s Hall
  4. Relax
    • Of course, do not forget to relax. Book yourself a spa appointment like I did. Sit at a coffee shop and just enjoy your favourite drink or read a good book. Book a later flight. Arrive a little earlier to enjoy the airport lounge prior to your flight. Consider taking a yoga class, which leads us to our next step.
  5. Get moving
    • I’ve done a lot of reading about happiness (see suggested readings below) and almost all sources mention exercising as a way to improve mood and decrease stress. Don’t underestimate what a little moving around can do for your mental health. I mostly relied on my two feet for getting around this trip. It also allowed me to enjoy some podcasts along the way (see below for recommendations). If you don’t have much time to go to the gym usually, try out the gym at the hotel or close to your accommodations. Some gyms have multiple locations throughout the country, so don’t forget to take advantage of this.
  6. Spend time outdoors
    • Preferably, I would have wanted to go somewhere with more of a natural backdrop for my retreat, but I will make do with the opportunity in front of me. I tried my best to walk instead of subway. I tried to walk through the park instead of larger streets. I also tried to choose the patio seating if possible.
      Toronto sign in front of City Hall
      Toronto sign in front of City Hall that I came across during one of my walks
  7. Accomplish
    • Take on a project. Get started on a new project or continue to expand on your current hobbies. Use your commuting time on the train/plane to your advantage. Instead of watching a movie, maybe begin sketching a drawing, writing a novel or composing a song. In my case, I chose to work on my blog. This might sound like hard work for a “retreat” but trust me. If you are able to engage in an activity that produces flow, it will not feel like work. It can actually help you to recharge and to feel energized.

Hope you enjoy your personally-designed self-care retreat. Let me know how it goes in the comments section below!


Suggested readings:

Alex Vermeer’s 8760 guide


Suggested podcasts:

Gretchen Rubin’s Happier Podcast

Hidden Brain by NPR

Eat Your Kimchi – Simon and Martina’s old podcast

Tokyo Tales – Simon and Martina’s new podcast

Suggested phone apps:

Happier App

Simple Habit

Perspective App


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Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Only some of the links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. At the same time, we would not suggest a product if we did not actually think that it was honestly good. Thanks for supporting this blog!

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