Thinking back to March of 2020, I have to laugh at my optimism. I was fairly confident COVID-19 would unfold just like any other seasonal bug; it would make the rounds, and I’d do my best to avoid it with healthy living habits. Before I knew it—or so I thought—it would have run its course and moved on.
But as the days of lockdown turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, I realized that the pandemic could actually have a much more sustained and powerful impact than what I’d originally anticipated.
Coming to terms with just how devastating this virus is on a global scale and how many millions of people it continues to affect was a difficult process, followed by the realization that I and everyone around me would not come out of this unscathed. After giving myself permission to mourn the loss of events I’d miss, birthday celebrations I wouldn’t be attending, and the improbability of any kind of vacation, I funneled my energy into creating new ways to keep my mind, body, and spirit healthy and happy.
One strategy I came up with is a DIY retreat experience that I can enjoy without ever leaving home. Like a traditional yoga retreat I might have attended in normal times, my new pandemic-era approach is centered around clean food, comfort, and relaxation. Unlike a regular getaway, my retreat ideas don’t have a hefty price tag attached to them, and social distancing protocols are a complete non-issue!
The goal is to replicate the nourishing feelings we get on an über-relaxing vacation or wellness retreat, and explore activities and experiences that nurture, support emotional wellbeing, and make us feel good physically. Ideally, I’d like to carve out at least one weekend a month for one of these retreats to help recharge my batteries and give myself a well-deserved break.
If you’d like to try creating a wellness retreat at home, here are seven ideas to relax, recharge, and feel inspired.
7 Vegan Staycation Ideas During Quarantine
- Yoga Retreat
Ideal for: Relieving stress and shifting stagnant energy in the body
What you do: With Zoom and YouTube as your portal to a universe of yoga classes, find a few that resonate with your mood and individual needs, and pencil them into your weekend calendar. You may even discover some online yoga retreats worth exploring. Next, plan your meals around fresh, healthy produce for a “spa food” experience. Think smoothie bowls, gorgeous salads, and fresh soups. Prepare a carafe of water with cucumber or lemon slices to sip throughout the day, and at night, set up a tea station with a variety of soothing herbal teas. Light candles, practice meditation, and give yourself permission to really relax.
- Digital Detox Retreat
Ideal for: Relieving feelings of overwhelm and re-setting your circadian rhythms
What you do: This kind of unplugged DIY retreat can be one of the most challenging, especially if you rely on your devices for work. But the rewards make it well worth the initial discomfort. Begin by tucking away your laptop, turning off your phone, and hiding your iPad. Now, it’s time to go analog! Read a book or dive into a stack of magazines, bake cookies or bread from scratch, make a date with a friend to catch up and talk over tea, write letters (and mail them!), take your dog for long walks, or get your hands dirty in the garden. Remember: it’s just one weekend out of your life! You’ve got this.
- Nature Retreat
Ideal for: Emotional support when you’re feeling blue
What you do: There’s a growing body of evidence that points to the healing and restorative power of nature, but we don’t always take advantage of this free gift that’s nearly always available to us. This retreat gives you permission to revel in the outdoors. Try waking up early and heading out as the sun rises, and spend the day hiking in the woods, strolling a long stretch of beach, or riding bikes in the nearest woodlands. Bring along a healthy picnic, a frisbee, and binoculars, and have fun! And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, strike out on a camping excursion and make a weekend of swimming, hiking, and toasting vegan s’mores over a campfire.
- DIY Spa Weekend
Ideal for: Ditching stress and indulging in self-pampering
What you do: Many of us are so busy caring for others or focusing on work-related projects that we don’t make time for the person making it all happen: ourselves! This is your opportunity to turn the focus inward and relish the kind of pampering you deserve but rarely make time for. Begin by firing up a Spotify playlist with classical music or nature sounds, then pour yourself a tall green juice or lemon water. Next, try an ayurvedic-style dry skin brushing to stimulate the lymphatic system and rev up your circulation, followed by a mask treatment for your hair and face. Run a bath and add essential oils, then luxuriate in a long soak. Give yourself a mani-pedi and set up a chair outside for a sun bath and vitamin D infusion. You’ll feel amazing!
- Culinary Weekend
Ideal for: Stimulating your intellect and your appetite
What you do: Getting active in the kitchen can put you into that wonderful monofocused state known as flow. And what could be better than tuning out all the noise in our heads to create something we can enjoy looking at, smelling, and tasting? Take an online vegan cooking class (I’m a fan of Spork Foods and The Joyful Vegan’s virtual courses), dive into your cookbook collection, or pull out your saved issues of VegNews and prepare an incredible meal to share with loved ones. Learn to make aquafaba meringue, find a knife-skills tutorial on YouTube, watch cooking shows and practice veganizing recipes, and savor each delicious moment.
- Chocolate Weekend
Ideal for: A romantic activity to share with your partner
What you do: To say I merely love chocolate would be a huge understatement, which is why a weekend dedicated to the dark stuff is a little slice of heaven on earth. If you’re a chocophile, too, start your day with a sultry hot chocolate or ceremonial cacao and feel your heart open as you sit and sip. Read up on chocolate’s fascinating origins in ancient Mexico and Central America, then get your hands on a few different vegan chocolate bars or truffles and prepare a decadent taste-test. If you’re sharing the experience with your partner, watch the sweet film Chocolat together, and end the evening by feeding each other fresh strawberries dunked into chocolate fondue.
- Travel Weekend … At Home!
Ideal for: Sating your wanderlust
What you do: As frustrating as it has been to stay put for most of 2020, it’s worth it if it means keeping ourselves and others safe during the pandemic. So while you dream of an adventure in a far-flung locale, you can recreate the sensorial experience at home with a bit of creativity. First, settle on a region of the planet you long to visit, say, the Indian subcontinent. Now, begin building your virtual getaway. Cook a spicy curry, listen to Indian music, watch a Bollywood film, snack on crunchy namkeen (you’ll find it at Indian markets), and download a copy of the latest Lonely Planet guide to India and trick your mind into thinking you’re already there. No long-haul flight required!
The route you choose to give yourself the feeling of being on a special retreat or getaway matters less than just making the time to say yes to yourself with guilt-free downtime. When your “vacation” is over, you’ll be refreshed and revitalized and ready to take on the world. Have fun!