AT-HOME URBAN RETREAT

To Slow Down & Practice Some Self-Care
PHOTO: DANIEL KIM VIA STOCKSY

Planning time to rest, relax and restore your body is as important as regular exercise and healthy eating. I like to build in one Sunday a month that is spent doing nothing but taking care of and rejuvenating my body. Rest doesn’t have to be as expensive or pre-planned as a spa day, nor does it have to feel as lazy as a duvet day. Keep reading for the INSPIRE guide to an at-home urban retreat that will leave you refreshed, mind, body and spirit.

Try sleeping with the blinds open instead of an alarm clock. You’ll be woken with the natural light and feel an intuitive sense of whether you’re ready to get up or whether you’re best allowing your body to drift back to sleep.

Swap the caffeine for a lemon water with apple cider vinegar (and, for bonus points, chlorella, if you have it). This will alkalise and detox your system before you eat anything. Note that if you normally drink a coffee in the morning, it’s probably a good idea to have some kind of caffeine -- check out this article for alternatives -- at the very least, a green tea. Otherwise, you risk spending your urban retreat with a withdrawal headache.

Next take time for some kind of mindfulness practice. Chanting a mantra, doing a Headspace meditation or just sitting in stillness for an extended period of time are all very positive ways to kick off a day devoted to relaxation.

For breakfast, go for something light and easy to digest. Smoothies are always a great option but try adding more greens and going lighter on the tropical fruit, which can be very sugar-heavy.

It’s important to take some time to digest before doing any kind of physical practice, no matter how gentle. So give yourself time now to either read, journal or even do some at home self-care. Giving yourself a facial, manicure or pedicure can be a lot easier than you may have expected.

Once you’ve digested, it’s time to get stretching. Whether you’re into yoga, body-rolling or just plain stretching, roll out your mat and get into some comfies and you’ll be surprised how easily your body tells you what it needs. By just naturally moving, you’ll quickly pinpoint aches and pains that you can either stretch out or roll. Make sure to give your hips and hamstrings some love and, if you’ve got a body roller, definitely roll out your psoas. This will counteract all the time you spend sitting. I also don’t think we attend to our feet nearly as much as we should. Try just massaging your own feet a little and maybe rolling them with a tennis ball.

At this point, you may be hungry for lunch. Assess what your body’s craving. If you’d prefer something warm and heartier, maybe go for a soup. If you need something lighter and more invigorating, maybe a fresh salad. How often do we really take the time and care to prepare three fresh meals a day? If you really take the time, and see it as an act of service to your body that serves you so well, rather than a chore, the meal may actually taste more delicious and nourishing than it would otherwise.

After lunch, it’s time to bathe. Showering is usually a quick, five-minute practice at the start or end of a long stressful day. So don’t rush it. Run a bath and dry brush your whole body as the bath fills, the steam will help open your pores and the act itself increases circulation and lymphatic drainage as well as exfoliating dead skin. Add essential oils and Epsom salts to your bath and really soak before scrubbing, washing and doing everything you need to do to feel as clean and pampered as possible. Towel off, moisturise and attend to your skin however you prefer.

Your body will feel so completely relaxed from this practice that the best thing you can spend what’s left of the day doing is resting. Really indulge in this time, where you don’t feel compelled to work on anything or be productive nor do you feel drained. Watch a film, read a book, spend time with a loved one.

Have another light dinner of cooked vegetables with ginger tea and get to bed early.

Notice how you feel on Monday -- have the effects lingered or worn off? Are you maybe just a bit livelier when you get up and go to work? This practice is very powerful even just as an expression of self-love but the benefits you’ll get in the week that follows really do speak for themselves.

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