Help me make the most of my solo retreat!
May 13, 2011 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Next week, I'm taking 3 days away from family and work to relax, recharge and (hopefully) reprogram myself. Please help me make the most of it!

With my husband's blessing, I'll be spending three nights next week in an upscale hotel, with the purpose of basically resetting myself. I've been feeling increasingly stressed and overwhelmed, with no time or space to think and rest, hence this little getaway.

The plan is that l will spend the whole time in the room (hello, room service!), doing a fair amount of sleeping and probably a little pleasure reading and TV watching. Still, I really want to do some focused thinking, reading and journaling/listmaking on the following topics:

- mindfulness, gratitude, acceptance of self and others
- physical health (I'm stuck in some dreadful habits)
- positive parenting
- loving and accepting my spouse and opening myself up to a better connection with him

I would really love some recommendations for any books, writing prompts and/or thought exercises, or just some general advice on making this a great experience. I doubt I'll have an opportunity like this again anytime soon.

(Just a little background on me, in case it helps anyone's answer: I'm 35, female, married with two kids aged 4 and 1, I co-own a successful business with my husband, I'm fairly reclusive and shy, very hard on myself with a lot of negative self-talk about my bad habits and poor choices I've made. I also have a tendency to dwell on problems, always thinking that with enough thinking and planning and organizing, I'll find "the answer." That's been about as successful as you can probably imagine.)

Thanks in advance!
posted by justonegirl to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
You should plan some things to do outside of the room! Otherwise, you'll just be focusing on your writing or passive entertainment, which will tire your brain out and ultimately not be relaxing. Go to a yoga class, browse a bookstore, get a pedicure, go out to eat, go to a museum, a movie ...

Pro tip: for solo restaurant dining, go during off hours, sit at the bar, and bring a magazine. Going out for breakfast or lunch may be less awkward feeling than dinner, which is typically more social.
posted by yarly at 3:11 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

I found this Journal (Simple Abundance Gratitude Journal) to be a nice starting point for a daily practice to remind myself of the many things in my life I am grateful for.

In addition, I think spending time setting a few goals that you'd like to achieve regarding your personal health/correcting bad habits--whatever you think you need to take back into you life after your "time out". Make them as specific and realistic as possible. For example "I will incorporate 30 mins of excercise into my day." Then map out how, when, where. Maybe you start with 5 mins and work your way up. Make your plan for the first several weeks while you develop the habit and work up to 30 minutes and then a plan to keep it going.

Good luck!
posted by agatha_magatha at 3:16 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh my God I'm so jealous. Do you have a novel going? If not maybe take a few you think would be interesting. I love reading all day. It's sort of like being high, in a way. Your efforts sound more serious and spiritual, but I think I'd go for an appalling amount of reading. I also like eating in restaurants alone.

Or if you're Marge Simpson: "A chocolate sundae. And a bottle of tequila."
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:24 PM on May 13, 2011

Spending three straight days in one room, no matter how luxurious, seems like it would get quite unpleasant. Is there anywhere you can go within walking distance from the hotel? Even a courtyard would be nice.

If you can, find a gentle yoga or meditation class/workshop to attend. They can make you feel great, and it helps to have a guide. If you can't find or really don't want to go to a class, follow some DVDs. Some upscale hotels have TV channels that show yoga routines around the clock.

If you're considering therapy in the near future, it would be a good idea to either schedule an appointment or just start calling around during those three days. I mention therapy because it sounds like you're ready to make some big, lasting changes, and it takes a lot of time and patience to get them to stick. Seeing a therapist can help you check in on your progress, and it really helps to have an outside expert opinion on your own thoughts. I apologize for being That Person Who Suggests Therapy, but from your question I think you'd actually really enjoy and benefit from it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:26 PM on May 13, 2011

Why aren't you going to a spa for a massage?
posted by orthogonality at 3:30 PM on May 13, 2011

Definitely go to a spa - I love the part where you just get to sit around and do absolutely nothing in warm, cozy places. It will be a change from your hotel room!

Seriously though - just focus on recharging your batteries, gathering strength and relaxing. Maybe pop to the hotel gym a few times and do ten minutes of intense workout just to get your endorphines up and blood pumping, too!
posted by ukdanae at 4:26 PM on May 13, 2011

I actually kind of did this at a hotel last month for a few days. I walked to the National Cathedral, went inside and saw my favorite stained glass window and walked around the garden, read a good book, got a massage (almost got another one the second day), soaked in the tub, had two big brunches, and wrote in my diary. No television or computer! The hotel has large, beautiful flower-filled gardens and that also made a big difference.

I agree that you do not want to stay inside the whole time. Frankly, it could do more harm than good.
posted by jgirl at 4:39 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have a coworker who does this once a year. She does the spa treatments, reads, relaxes and loves it. I think she only goes overnight though. Enjoy the neighborhood too, wherever it is, or go and see a movie that you want to see etc. Basically do all the things you want to do and can't with all of your family obligations. Don't lock yourself in your room, just use it as your home base to recalibrate and relax. Have fun!
posted by bquarters at 7:17 PM on May 13, 2011

for guided writing exercises I enjoyed a book called Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldman. It's more about freeing up one's writer-muscles than about spiritual questing but I think it would be absolutely lovely to read over room service breakfast and then do some of the writing exercises at a sunny desk. Then lunch somewhere wonderful that you've planned out in advance with the aid of Yelp or a guidebook. Then a walk to a museum or store that you're curious about. Then a nap. Then dinner and a movie or show... hey maybe I need to do this too.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:06 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a good one to start. It's not one I can read all at once, though so maybe just a few chapters. For the journaling, any of The Artist's Way books would be great.

I'd stay away from screens except for a movie in a real theatre!

I hope you have a great time and get some work done but also really relax.
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:21 PM on May 13, 2011

Is there a pool at your hotel? I like swimming alone in hotels when I'm on solo trips.

I know this is your relaxation/recharge time, but I would recommend including some exercise in there somewhere. You could take a walk in a nearby place you like or use the hotel gym. I always feel recharged after exercise, and when I'm attempted to have a lazy, recharging day spent mostly inside watching TV, browing the web, and reading, I sometimes feel more sluggish than before. YMMV.

But I love the idea of having room service and eating in bed and watching TV.
posted by shortyJBot at 5:34 AM on May 14, 2011

Good for you! What a wonderful thing to do for yourself.

You might want to check out The Art of Extreme Self-Care. I found it on the New Books shelf at the library, and although I found the title a little off-putting, there were some useful questions in it. In particular, there are one or two mentions of resolving time for yourself vs. time for your kids that you might find helpful.

Also, The Feeling Good Handbook gets recommended all the time here on AskMeFi. It has lots of writing exercises, and may be helpful as you think about the negative self-talk you described.

But you know your own style and what resonates with you much better than we do. If you can make the time, I highly recommend a trip to the library. Look for these books in your library (my library seems to shelve Feeling Good under both 616.8914 and 158.1; Extreme Self-Care is at 158.1 as well), then browse the other books nearby. There might be something that's just right for your retreat.

Personally, I would avoid TV, although watching something specific would be okay (if there's a DVD player, bringing a DVD you've been wanting to watch for a while). One of the best shifts I've made in the past decade is getting rid of TV. I still enjoy watching various series on DVD, and of course movies, but for me, choosing what I want to watch is a million times better than watching whatever happens to be on, and avoiding ads is bliss.

Nthing all the great suggestions above to take walks if you can and feel like it. For me, walking is one of the most meditative, restorative things I do.
posted by kristi at 9:03 AM on May 16, 2011

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