Mindfulness holidays and wellness retreats continue to grow in popularity. With increasing number of apps being developed, radio 4 segments, podcasts and newspaper supplements it seems everyone is going mad for mindfulness. Still if you have never heard of it, mindfulness holidays are about the practise of presence in the moment, changing the way you think to help increase your ability to handle stress and make difficult decisions. But this isn’t a recent phenomenon or a fad, people have been seeking out wellness experiences since roman times when thermal baths were often frequented and during the Edwardian period escaping the city for the countryside was often recommended to improve health.
In terms of mindfulness I have attended body balance, Pilates and yoga classes over the last six years finding the classes very beneficial for banishing stress and improving my flexibility and inner core strength. Reading a book, exercising in the fresh outdoors, listening to podcasts and enjoying creative pursuits like baking all of which have boosted my mood and banished stress. Of course, I always find a visit to Nirvana Spa particularly rejuvenating.
Why is mindfulness important?
However, in the lead up to Christmas I found myself increasingly overwhelmed by the modern world, time with friends and loved ones resulted in phones appearing and continuous scrolling managing social media accounts or just checking on ‘what everyone else was up to’ as opposed to engaging in the present. Increasingly so in this technology driven society I find myself surrounded by people who are hooked on their phones; my friends, my boyfriend, my family – this habit to check social media feeds and emails as soon as we wake up and before we go to sleep is causing us to switch off from those in front of us and negatively impacting our relationships and wellbeing.
So, over the festive season, I controversially switched off, I sent out the Merry Christmas and Happy New Year messages in advance or a few days later and limited myself to 1hr of screen time throughout the day. More recently I undertook my first mindfulness holiday during my New Year’s holiday to Woburn Forest Center Parcs with my family all of which will explain my disappearance from social media and blogging over the last few weeks.
As the dark nights draw in and the temperature drops you might be suffering from seasonal affective disorder or simply just feel like taking special care of your mind, body and spirit during these winter months. Take a look at my top reasons for why a mindfulness holiday at Center Parcs is something to consider in 2019.
Mindfulness holidays, the perfect setting
The festive period can be manic, so if like me you find yourself spending December running around like a headless chicken going from one social event to another then a mindfulness holiday is just the tonic you need to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. Whether it be a weekend break or a week-long stay Center Parcs has always held a special place in my heart, with five forest locations across the UK the woodland setting is the perfect place to take a break from the stresses of modern day living and spend your days relaxing in nature.
Woburn Forest Center Parcs, is just an hour away from London set amongst 365 acres of undulating forest where you can choose to fill your time as much or as little as you like. Leaving the car in the car park and exploring the park by bike during our Winter New Year’s break was truly a blissful experience, nestled deep within the forest our woodland lodge was 522 Birch and a stay here helped me to start practising the notation of enjoying the moment. During our stay, I took time to refocus my mind and go back to basics, I spent time talking with my family, relaxing in the spa and enjoying creative and sporting pursuits. Years ago, I remember a Center Parcs advert so memorable it has stayed in my thoughts years down the line, it demonstrates why Center Parcs Forests are perfect for mindfulness holidays, click here to watch.
Fresh Air, Fresh Thinking with a Mindfulness holiday
During my final year at University myself and a group of friends carried out a study into the branding strategy behind Center Parcs, creating the slogan ‘Fresh air, Fresh thinking’. Afterall mindfulness holidays at Center Parcs are all about getting outside and embracing the physical and emotional benefits that arise from being outdoors and enjoying fresh air. Studies show that taking just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise helps stimulate the immune system.
With plenty of activities to keep you busy from zip-lining and archery to badminton and squash with so much to do it’s hard to think about anything else other than the activity you are currently participating in. I really love playing badminton whenever I visit Center Parcs and during this mindfulness holiday we booked a session on our first day. Hopefully moving forward, I will be able to play this sport more frequently as the benefits of exercising always make me feel so much more revitalized. So, whilst you may feel tempted to stay inside during the colder months getting outside and soaking up daylight will boost your mood and help fight off colds, then after you’ve enjoyed some fresh air, fresh thinking you can retreat back to your cosy lodge to toast marshmallows on the log fire.
Ultimately though I believe Center Parcs is an excellent mindfulness holiday due to the freedom of being able to cycle in the fresh air, I’d urge you to hire bikes or bring your own to truly embrace village life. Undoubtably for me one of the greatest feelings in the world, is cycling through the forest with the wind in your hair and the smell of fresh pine filling your lungs. In that moment there is nowhere else on earth I’d rather be.
Spa days on your Mindfulness holiday
One of my favourite ways to spend the day is at a spa. Go ahead and leave your phone in your locker and let your worries drift away with a day of indulgent pampering on your mind, body and soul.
The Aqua Sana at Woburn Forest is home to 25 different spa environments inspired by nature, the six unique spa areas focus on revitalising body and mind to give you the chance to start anew. I didn’t get any photos from inside the spa as they highly recommend you leaving your phone in your locker – plus yes you guessed it technology detox time!
Start your visit with an invigorating foot spa before exploring the soothing heat and stimulating saunas and meditation rooms in the Fire & Ice area. Lift your spirits in the uplifting Herbal Spa experience rooms before visiting my favourite part of the spa – the outdoor heated spa pool. Ease your aches and pains against the variety of jets or just lie back and relax under a canopy of glittering sky.
To melt your stress away and quiet your mind head to the Mineral and Gemstone spa and spend a few moments in the steam room to soothe soreness and detox your pores. Explore the blossom, sensory and salt spa areas to leave yourself feeling truly rejuvenated before stretching out on a cosy water bed to truly embrace mindfulness and unwind.
The ‘World of Spa’ is a unique concept to Center Parcs, I love the fact that each area provides a different benefit physically and mentally, so you can go home feeling relaxed and ready to face the world.
Creative pursuits on Mindfulness holiday
As a highly creative person, I’ve always found forming a positive mindset through creativity easy from baking brownies to creating homemade cards and advent calendars. During our mindfulness holiday at Woburn Forest the five of us channelled our creativity with a two-hour pottery painting session.
With two hours of solid concentration, we didn’t even chat we were so focussed! There was little room to think of anything else other than the pottery painting in front of us, trust me when I say that this activity although mentally exhausting is a lot of fun. I’ve always maintained the view that a busy mind is one that has less room for negative mind chatter and creating something for your own enjoyment (or for others) is very emotionally beneficial.
So why go on a mindfulness holiday at Center Parcs? When you are relaxed, tension decreases, and you will be able to sleep better and enjoy the moment! All of which means better immune system, reduced heart rate and blood pressure. To discover more about mindfulness holidays at Center Parcs take a look at their website or give the customer service team a call. Moving forward I will be sharing more wellness focussed blog and social media content to help you improve your wellbeing from recipe ideas (including new vegan options) and wellness technology ideas to spa breaks and mindfulness retreat ideas. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve visited Center Parcs and share your images with me using the #MindfulWithElle #WellnessWithElle or via firstname.lastname@example.org