How to Plan a Refreshing Creative Retreat

Sometimes we all need time to reset. Like most people in their 20s, I spend way too much time connected to my iPhone, answering text messages from my friends, or playing around on Facebook and Instagram. While I love being able to instantly reach out to my friends and family members, I sometimes forget that I need to spend time just getting to know me.

A few years ago, I signed up on a whim to go to a writing retreat in a cabin with 11 other people an hour away from my house. I couldn’t access the internet, so I couldn’t zone out on Facebook or watch my favorite streaming shows to pass the time. When I got bored on the first day, I tried to watch Hulu from my phone, but I didn’t have any reception.

Instead, I laced up my sneakers and walked around the small lake near the cabin. I watched native birds and noticed that time moved just a little slower. I wrote ideas for future novels in my journal and once again found myself looking forward to what I could do in the future. Without my phone’s notifications beeping throughout the night, I slept better, woke up earlier, and felt clear-headed. I realized that it’s important to plan regular creative retreats to rejuvenate my mind, energy, and spirit, whether by myself or with friends.

If you want to plan a creative retreat, consider these steps.

1. Plan to visit a place that’s peaceful

The key to planning a creative retreat is removing yourself from your regular environment, your normal schedule, and your electronic devices. You can accomplish this at a cabin in a state park, in a tent on the beach, or anywhere else that inspires you to be mindful. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on somewhere to stay. Ask friends and family members if you can stay in a spare bedroom or their vacation home when it’s not in use

2. Make a list of creative activities you want to do

The more creativity you use, the more you’ll have. Make a list of the types of activities you used to love as a kid but might not have time for, or ones that you want to try. I always love journaling, scrapbooking, and reading. Investing time into these activities feels like a treat to me, so they’re perfect for a creative retreat.

If you need ideas of what kind of creative activities you can do, consider:

  • Reading a spiritual book
  • Painting a picture
  • Coloring in an adult coloring book
  • Playing with oven-baked clay
  • Journaling outside
  • Taking nature walks
  • Watching birds
  • Practicing a musical instrument
  • Scrapbooking your favorite memories
  • Listening to music
  • Sketch a picture of your surroundings
  • Making origami

3. Decide if you want to retreat alone

If you’re introverted and want time to reconnect with God, you may want to plan a retreat for yourself and go it alone. Other times, you can get the same benefits of a solo trip by retreating with other people. You can take turns preparing meals and directing creative activities. Just set some rules about quiet time and general expectations of how you want the creative retreat to go so nobody leaves disappointed.

Whether you feel overwhelmed at work or recently experienced personal setbacks, a creative retreat can be just what you need to rejuvenate. Even if nothing out of the ordinary is going on, regular creative retreats can help you maintain a positive outlook by reminding you that what makes you happy is just as important as your job or other commitments. Start with a short retreat and see how you feel.

Originally published on January 11, 2017. 

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