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Best retreats on a budget

A retreat is precious time to pause, rejuvenate and find inspiration for the next stage of your journey. Whether you have a day, a weekend, a week or longer, here are wellbeing travel expert Caroline Sylger Jones’s top affordable picks, to help you unplug, then re-enter life full of energy

well travelled


We can’t always get away from it all, and sometimes staying on familiar territory is the simplest, easiest and most relaxing thing we can do for our wellbeing. Next time you have a free day, empower yourself with an at-home retreat instead of doing chores or over-committing yourself socially.

Prepare yourself so that you can turn off all your devices and focus on you and being in the moment. Put your electronics in a drawer and allow yourself to forget them. Book a relaxing massage for the evening before to mark the start of your ‘retreat’. In advance, make a batch of nourishing, healing soup for when you feel hungry so you won’t have to worry about cooking. (I find real comfort in the warmth and protein from a made-from-scratch real chicken soup – or choose a veggie or vegan alternative).

Use the day to start a practice of Morning Pages, a ‘brain dump’ technique devised by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way (Pan Macmillan, £16.99) that clears the mind of clutter so it can be used more creatively. I’ve been doing it for years and it’s sensationally effective. Choose a new notebook to ritualise the process, and begin as soon as you wake up on your retreat day. After that, go with your ‘flow’. Avoid all domestic jobs and, instead, do what feeds you – watch a feel-good film, read a book, paint a picture, take a nap, choose to listen to music with no lyrics. Get out into the fresh air: walking, biking, running, gardening, beachcombing – whatever floats your boat – choosing a location that’s relatively free of busy people. Spend a few moments breathing consciously. Psychologist Linda Blair has the most powerful yet simple technique I’ve found: sit comfortably, then breathe in deeply, and breathe out slowly, 10 times. Treat the evening as sacred time – light candles, draw the curtains, perhaps have some Epsom salts ready to add to a bath – there’s deep and instant relaxation from the magnesium in the salts. After a good sleep, you should wake with a clear mind and feel recharged. CSJ

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About Psychologies

This month, we’re urging you to ‘trust yourself’. Wonderful words but, not especially easy to put into practice. That’s why we’ve dedicated 18 pages in our dossier to discovering how to do exactly that – exploring everything from to how to turn up the volume of our inner wise woman, to looking at the latest research on making the best decisions. And it’s not what you think. Be inspired and get ready to move forward. Plus, how to reinvent your career and 10 of the best budget boltholes.