When you look up what the word retreat means, it is often linked to military operations: withdrawing from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat. Not massively positive eh? Albeit sometimes I do feel like I am waging a war – against hormones, heat, the never-ending midlife mental load … 

Jo Darling, Chinese medicine practitioner explains: In its simplest form ‘Retreat’, means ‘to withdraw, to drawback. So, with this in mind, the original intention of a retreat is to withdraw from our regular routine of daily life and take time to reflect, evaluate and to reconnect. A retreat, at its essence, is about coming back to basics’. 

Finding the best midlife retreat for you … 

It seems at the moment, we can’t move for retreats and whilst I love the idea, I can’t work out if I want peace, activities, adventure or all 3!  Budget, time and location all play a part too, so I spoke to Jo Fellowes, yoga practitioner and wellness advisor who recommends thinking about what your desired outcome is first – what do you want to experience? She says “Choose a retreat that is aligned with your interests and goals, there are many different types, such as yoga retreats, meditation retreats, wellbeing retreats, writing retreats, spiritual retreats etc. Also, consider the level of activity. Some retreats are very active, while others are more relaxed”.

Questions to ask yourself when choosing a retreat:

Do I want to:

  • Relax and de-stress?
  • Connect with nature?
  • Reflect on your life?
  • Learn new things?

Other things to consider when choosing the midlife retreat for you: 

• The facilitator. Do some research on the facilitators of the retreat to make sure that they are properly qualified and experienced. 

• What type of accommodation is offered? Are they shared or private? In mid-life most of us want to have our own private space and bathrooms. 

• Budget. Retreats can range hugely in price from a few hundred pounds to several thousand. It’s important to set a budget before you start looking so you don’t overspend. Check what the price includes, some include all meals and activities, while others don’t. 

• Food. Is the food included in the price of the retreat? If so, what kind of food is served? Can they accommodate your dietary requirements?

• The location. Do you want to go on a retreat near home or travel to a new destination? Consider the climate and time of year.

• The size of the group. Do you prefer a small, intimate retreat or a busier setting?

• Ask your friends and family for recommendations. Do they know of any retreats that they would recommend? Read reviews. See what other people have said about different retreats.

• Trust your gut. If you feel good about a particular retreat, then it’s probably the right one for you.

Remember, the most important thing is to choose a retreat that will help you achieve your desired outcomes, your available time, and your budget.  Here are a few ideas to get you started!

If you have 7 days …

Jo Darling organises menopause retreats which focus on the simplicity of rest, restoration, and revitalise, immersing guests in ancient wisdom, all taking place in the magical mountains, waterfalls, and sunshine of Andalucia, Spain.

She harnesses the idea of going back to basics and observing nature, by introducing her guests to the theory of the ‘Chinese Clock’. This explains that each organ has peak energy at a specific time of day. Guests explore this principle through a series of workshops, gentle movement practices and acupuncture treatments to help guests with their own self care, with plenty of important free time, for guests to explore their surroundings and relax. 

For full details of Jo’s retreats visit the Menopoised Retreat

Get Surfing!

I have been following Wild and Free Adventures for a while now.  I surfed (badly) in my twenties but loved it and feel that this could be the retreat for me.  Set up by Amanda and Jo, Wild and Free was born from two people’s passion for surf and yoga and the balance and freedom each one offers mind, body and soul.  Their retreats offer an opportunity to unwind and reconnect with your sense of adventure whilst exploring the world and beautiful oceans but they also run retreats in Cornwall if that is more your bag.  Hosted with the help of an amazing local crew at every destination these are unique experiences designed not only to relax you, but challenge you too. 

If you have a weekend …

Check out Sunset Bay Retreats, set up by dance teacher Maggie and her husband Graham, they offer a variety of retreats to suit the seasons, choose from winter yoga to Veganuary theme to summer solstice retreats either midweek or weekend depending on what suits you.   On the program: holistic workshops, invigorating outdoor activities, rejuvenating treatments, and revitalizing yoga and meditation practices, as well as nourishing plant-based food. 

The retreats are run in the beautiful Welsh countryside where guests can nourish their bodies and spirits and leave feeling regenerated, relaxed and ready to face the world once again.

Jo Fellows has teamed up with Notgrove Holidays to organise a series of well-being retreats set on the Notgrove estate, which is an idyllic 1,500 estate in the Cotswold countryside.  Designed to nourish, awaken, heal and renew. it’s the perfect place to reflect and unwind from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Guests stay in eco-glamping pods on the estate whilst enjoying a mix of yoga, nutrition, time in nature and breathwork, connecting with like-minded individuals – embracing the energy of the season, for growth, renewal and creativity.  I have already booked my space on the March weekend retreat…. But there are also dates in June to choose from.

If you have a day…

For those of us who find it difficult to carve out time for ourselves, then maybe a day out is more achievable for both diary and purse.  For midlifers, there are more specifically designed spa treatments than ever created especially for us! 

Try the “Your Best You” treatment from Temple Spa which is a bespoke top-to-toe menopausal treatment combining massage with Himalayan Salt stones to support stress relief, increase energy, and positively boost mood. Rhythmic stretches, and gentle joint rotation rescue achy limbs and a gentle lymph drainage facial reduces puffiness to leave skin fresh and toned. You can enjoy your treatment hot or cold depending on how you feel and make the most of the spa facilities depending on the spa location you choose. 

Chewton Glen Spa in Hampshire is the sister hotel to Cliveden House in Berkshire.  They have linked up with award-winning CBD brand OTO to develop a Menopause & Restore Spa Day which includes breakfast and lunch at the pool bar, an indulgent 90-minute body ritual tailored to release emotional heaviness and aid digestion, including an abdominal massage to provide analgesic, cell-regenerating and anti-inflammatory properties to the skin and tissues. Live sound is woven into the experience, reducing binaural frequencies to allow you to completely switch off and reset.  You can make the most of the spa facilities, have lunch, and maybe sign up for a class.  The Chewton Glen grounds are well worth exploring and you can also follow the path down to the sea for a brisk coastal walk. 

The Old Dairy, set in the beautiful North Oxfordshire countryside, offers various retreat options from one-hour treatments to full days, where you can escape, let go and just be whilst enjoying a selection of yoga classes, guided walks, treatments, nutritional advice, sound baths and nutritious lunches.

If you have an hour … create a retreat at home…

Busy lives mean that sometimes all we have is an hour, sometimes less. Maximise whatever time and space you have with these quick-fix ideas:

  • Meditation – with Calm app – they have various meditation tracks so pick one to suit your timescale from 2 minutes to 20 minutes, take that time for yourself
  • Tea – Forage Botanicals Cool and Calm Tea contains Peppermint, known for relaxing fried nerves, Lemon Verbena to clear the mind and Sage, to alleviate hormone imbalance – a powerful blend for brain fog, anxiety and other perimenopause symptoms. 
  • Eye mask – a heated eye mask is not only great for relaxation but also good for midlife eye health. Did you know our eyelids secret oil from ducts that can get blocked causing dry eyes – sound familiar?  By using a heated eye mask once or twice a week, the oil is softened, thus lubricating the eyes– try spacemasks or optase moist heat mask.
  • Run yourself a bath – I love an Epsom salt bath and I love the scent of lavender – this gorgeous bath milk from Neom combines both magnesium salts and the heavenly scent of lavender to calm and restore – magnesium bath milk 
  • Yoga – try an online session from Yoga with Adrienne or Silverlinings wellbeing and choose a class depending on the time you have-   I like to apply a bit of Scentered balm on my pulse points before a class and breathe deep depending on my mood.

words by Nicola de Burlet

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