So, you’ve booked a health detox retreat, does that just mean you can sit back, continue with life as usual until you get to the retreat center?

Well, yes, you can, but there are a few tips that might make your health detox retreat a more pleasant experience.

By definition, detoxing means abstaining from or ridding the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. In other words, a health detox is a physical, mental, and emotional cleansing process…and it isn’t necessarily easy, even if you decide to do it in a luxurious setting.

On a daily basis, and sometimes over many years, we are filling our bodies with toxins, heavy metals, sugar, caffeine, stress, negative thoughts, and unhealthy relationship dynamics – things that we want to move beyond during our retreat. 

Over the course of your 7 or 10-day health detox retreat, you’ll likely experience some withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and crabbiness. Here are a few things you can do before your retreat to facilitate your detox process.

If you’re reading this article and still haven’t decided on a health detox retreat, consider attending one of ours at Casa Verde in Ecuador’s spectacular cloud forest.

Prepare to be offline

In today’s digital age, a detox isn’t a detox without disconnecting from your laptop, computer, social media accounts, and work.

Easier said than done! Most of us are in denial about this, but the truth is: we are all attached to, if not addicted to, the digital world. 

Much of our identity and feeling of belonging is connected to our online presence and though every one of us will feel relief at disconnecting from our gadgets, the initial and continued disconnection might be challenging for some.

If at all possible, we strongly suggest you start decreasing your time online several weeks before going on your retreat. For instance:

  • If you work on your phone and/or computer, try to only use these for work and avoid using them for social media. 
  • Avoid connecting first thing in the morning and last
  • Use a mobile tracking app like Moment or Quality Time to understand your own behavior better and find ways to limit the usage of certain apps.

Set some personal development goals for your health & detox retreat

By the time you’ve booked a detox retreat, you’ve likely reached a point where you know your well-being is at stake. Something has got to change and so you’re taking action.

Rather than simply attending your detox retreat and then returning to your regular life and habits, try to take a more conscious approach to your body’s healing.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung

Your habits influence more than just your physical health. They affect your mental health, your emotional health, and your spiritual connection. They likely exist because of certain narratives you cling to that affect how you perceive yourself and navigate through the world and in your relationships.

In the same way, a health detox retreat is an opportunity to address these other issues, sometimes the root of your stress, anxiety, and dis-ease.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before going on your retreat. It’s best to write your responses down with pen and paper (old school) because we are able to absorb the information better this way.

  • Do I feel overwhelmed? If so, how?
  • What three decisions are causing me the greatest stress?
  • In what areas of my life do I feel like there are blockages?
  • If I could only do three things before I die, what would I want to do?
  • What do I want to accomplish from this health detox retreat in ONE WORD?
  • What are my expectations about this retreat and are my expectations realistic?
  • How can I ensure I get as close as possible to achieving these expectations from this retreat?
  • Is there a daily practice I can apply, on my own, during the retreat that I can realistically continue practicing after the retreat (if I find that it serves me)?

Find a tool for self-reflection to use during your health detox retreat

There’s no need to over plan for your retreat; it’s important to go with the flow and allow your retreat hosts to provide a retreat that has proven to be effective. 

But if you’re not sure there will be self-reflection exercises during your retreat, you might consider bringing a few tools with you, along with a book to read during downtime.

Tarot card deck

One favorite is a tarot deck called the Wild Unknown (Spirit Animal deck) by artist and author Kim Krans. Each card depicts a different animal that corresponds to a page in the book full of insight. There is also a pocket-sized edition, in case you’re packing light.

You can use the deck in different ways. Make sure to read the initial pages of the book for more guidance on how to use the deck. I normally just select one card per night and reflect on the explanation in the book.

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha – Audiobook by Tara Brach

This one is a keeper. Tara Brach is a world renowned psychologist, author, and advocate of Buddhist meditation.

Apart from her guided meditations (also highly recommended), her audiobooks are a convenient way to enter into self-reflection mode while traveling and without having to actively read a book. Try not to perform other activities while listening to this audiobook, it is most effective when you give it your full attention. 

“Radical Acceptance does not mean self-indulgence or passivity. Instead, it empowers genuine change: healing fear and shame and helping to build loving, authentic relationships. When we stop being at war with ourselves, we are free to live fully every precious moment of our lives.”

Take a walk in nature or forest bathe

Mindo Cloudforest

I recently read the following which resonated, “Short walks will solve 57% of your problems. Long walks will solve 86% of your problems.”

Imagine, then, how effective a long walk along private cloud forest trails will be. If you’re doing your health detox retreat at Casa Verde, forest bathing and walks are a given. Regardless of where you’re headed, you should start walking TODAY. There’s no need to wait until your retreat.

Although it sounds like something only hippies would do (nothing wrong with being a hippie), a recent study on forest bathing has proven that it offers the following benefits:

  • Alleviates anxiety and depression.
  • Improves immunity and inflammatory indexes
  • Improves antioxidant indexes
  • Improves neuroendocrine indexes
  • Improves metabolic indexes
  • Significantly enhances people’s emotional state
  • Improving cardiovascular function
  • Improves overall attitude
  • Speeds up physical and psychological recovery

What about diet?

A detox diet is an integral part of any health detox retreat, and though there are ways you can start preparing for this change, it tends to be one of the main reasons people opt to pay and go elsewhere (usually very far away!) for their retreat, rather than just doing it closer to home.

In other words, it’s not the easiest part to start on your own and it’s one of the more challenging aspects to apply once you’re back from your health detox retreat.

If I were you, I wouldn’t worry too much about diet in preparation for your detox experience, but try not to lean toward the other extreme i.e. eating very unhealthily in “preparation” for your detox experience!