It’s a busy old world out there. We’re all rushing around, working hard, playing hard and trying our best to keep up. So when we get time off, it's no wonder we want to put it to good use.
But while those 'cocktails by the pool and late-night partying' holidays can be all well and good, they can often leave us feeling more depleted than we were before we left.
Instead, a tailor-made weekend retreat can be the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life. Here are 7 very good reasons why you should go on a gay retreat:
1. Pull back
The word ‘retreat’ comes from the Latin verb ‘to pull back’ – and in this way, a retreat is an opportunity to ‘pull back’ from all the chaos of daily life, so we can properly focus on our health and wellbeing.
That can’t happen when life is pulling us in a million different directions... but when we ‘retreat’, it gives us the opportunity to fully rest, regroup and take stock.
2. Meet like-minded souls
We’re social creatures – so we need to feel like we ‘belong’, and are connected to each other. Retreats allow us to experience being part of something bigger than ourselves – and there’s a whole range of research that suggests that if we have peers who support us, who we feel we can turn to, and who share our values and beliefs, it can lower our levels of anxiety, stress or depression, and lead to better overall health.
With the growth in popularity of the apps, our community is connected like never before in some ways. Yet they can also disconnect us, encouraging a soul-destroying 'hook-up' culture of quick-fix junk food sex, and ultimately making many of us feel sadder, lonelier and more isolated than before. With many of our traditional meeting places going out of business, it's no surprise that we're in the midst of a loneliness epidemic, as opportunities to meet new people in gay bars and clubs continue to diminish.
On the other hand, cultivating the deeper relationships often created while on retreat, and experiencing the satisfaction we get from those more meaningful connections can not only boost and maintain our mental resilience and protect us from feelings of hopelessness and depression; it can ultimately add greater meaning and joy to our lives.
When like-minded people get together with a common purpose, magic happens. ‘Group energy’ encourages deeper connection and conversation, and new friendships can blossom quickly, and often continue long after everyone has returned home.
3. Everything’s taken care of
On a gay retreat like the ones we offer, everything’s organised for you. There’s no need to plan your holiday, to find the right accommodation, the best restaurant, the most skillful masseur or the most beautiful bush walk. Instead, accommodation, food and activities are all taken care of.
On a well-organised retreat, you get to enjoy the all benefits offered by a local team, who know your destination and its star-attractions inside out. And that means you can dedicate your time to simply letting go and enjoying your experience.
4. Slow down
The pace of our daily lives can be relentless – but on a retreat, time slows down, and that inspires true rest, relaxation and healing.
When we can be still and peaceful, we can more easily tune into that quiet, knowing voice inside us. It’s a lot harder to listen during the whirl of everyday life – but slowing down can help us to feel healthier, more inspired, to recognise the beauty in life all over again, and to discover what we really want and need to be happy.
5. Connect with nature
Living in an urban environment without much access to the natural world can increase our risk of depression, anxiety and stress – so immersing ourselves in nature on retreat is one of the best things we can do for both inner and outer health.
Nature can be deeply healing and inspiring – and extensive research indicates that spending time in nature leads to faster recovery from stress, decreases mental fatigue, restores mental clarity and increases our sense of wellbeing.
6. Disconnect from technology
Retreats offer a great opportunity for a digital detox, and they’re the perfect excuse to disconnect from technology – which is vitally important given that most of us are on call and connected 24/7. We spend so much time on social media, or glued to our phone screens – but once we've removed ourselves from those disorienting digital distractions, it's much easier to just be in the moment.
Developing the ability to disconnect from the virtual world has far-reaching implications for our happiness levels – and while it sounds simple, it's something that many of us struggle with in our app and social-media driven society.
7. Feel amazing
The modern, quick-fix ‘magic pill’ approach to healthcare is on the way out. Instead, we’re realising that prevention is key, and that it’s up to us to take responsibility for our wellbeing through the choices that we make. Retreats place a large emphasis on inner and outer health and wellness, with nutrition, exercise, fresh air, rest, massage and laughter all playing a key role.
Essentially, retreats are designed with your health and wellbeing in mind – and that makes them a powerful, potent and potentially life-changing experience.
For more information on group and individual retreats for our LGBTQI community in beautiful Byron Bay, check out our retreats page.