Summer staycation

Create your own at-home wellness retreat with these expert tips

Summer holidays are unfortunately on hold at the present moment due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So why not have a summer staycation at home? With a bit of preparation you can set up an at-home wellness retreat and enjoy a healthy break without having to leave your house!

Create a sensory experience

“The first step is to make the home environment feel more luxuriant,” says Louise Westra, a naturopath with a Master’s in Science (www.louisewestra.com). “So, buy yourself flowers, preferably some that have a smell you love, and then buy yourself extra to really create a sense of self-indulgence. Ensure that you have essential oils and/or room sprays in abundance to amplify the sensory experience. After all, retreats never smell like mucky children or men’s socks!

They can be relaxing options such as lavender and rose geranium or more energising combinations such as orange and lemongrass. If you haven’t got a super-soft, fluffy robe then now’s the time to invest in one as well as some slippers that make you feel like you’re in the spa at all times.”

If the weather is good then why not take the time to practise some yoga or meditation in the garden? Sun salutations are a great yogic practice to start the day with. Just remember that if you’re going to be spending time in direct sunlight to apply some natural sunscreen. It’s also worth investing in some natural insect repellent to keep any pesky bugs at bay during your relaxation!

“Book yourself time out to meet with an experienced naturopath online to get your retreat off to a flying start and get a bespoke approach to your individual needs,” says Louise. “Let them advise on exactly what you need to ensure that the relaxation and restoration you need continues and starts to become embedded into the rest of your life.”

Make healthy meal choices

“Use this time to cook fresh, nutrient-rich meals that you wouldn’t usually have the time for,” says nutritionist Emily Hyland (omnomhealth.co.uk). “Incorporate a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables. Smoothies would be a good idea too. They’re a great way of getting goodness in and don’t take too much time.”

Louise Westra adds: “A lighter eating regime focused on eating all the colours of the rainbow and 10 servings of fruit and veg a day will support the body in detoxification and elimination. Consider plant-based only for a few days and avoid starchy carbohydrates like bread, pasta, cake and biscuits.”

If you want to give your digestive system a break, Louise suggests “eating earlier than usual to ensure an overnight fast of 12 hours minimum. This allows ‘autophagy’, the cellular housekeeping of the body, to take place and is hugely beneficial for our body and its ability to optimise detoxification”. She continues: “On rising, drink room-temperature water with freshly squeezed lemon, lime or pink grapefruit juice in it. This can also be drunk intermittently through the day to replace tea and coffee. If wanting to avoid soft drinks then use freshly squeezed citrus with a sparkling water as an alternative. Allow your body to come to wakefulness and transition into daytime activities and avoid food for the first hour after waking at least – this continues the process of autophagy.”

Practise mindful eating

“Our digestive systems are the unsung heroes of our bodies, working around the clock to keep our digestion ticking over,” says Emily. “The microorganisms that live in our gut (billions of them!) play a huge role not just in our digestive health, but our health overall, from helping to absorb important nutrients to protecting us from harmful bacteria.

Whilst it is important to make sure we’re nourishing ourselves with plenty of gut-supportive foods, we also need to make sure we’re keeping our stress levels in check as a balanced lifestyle is just as important for our digestion. When our body is stressed, our digestive system almost entirely shuts down, and we aren’t able to absorb the nutrients from our food properly. Taking time to sit down, chew our food and avoid distractions in the form of phones and laptops helps activate our parasympathetic nervous system, also known as ‘rest and digest’ mode. Before you start your meal, take a moment to breathe and bring yourself to the present moment, allowing your body to consciously slow down.”

“Make your meal-times more of a ritual and lay a table, use your best plates and serving dishes,” says Louise. “Take more time with your food and chew each mouthful with conscious attention, which helps to ensure better digestive processes and ultimately supports detox lower down the tract.”

5 steps to creating the perfect smoothie

Fill up on fruit and veggie goodness with these top smoothie tips from Emily Hyland.

1 Start with a base
Unsweetened coconut milk and nut milks are my favourite but coconut water and kefir work well too.

2 Go green
Add in one or two handfuls of leafy greens. Mix it up if you can as different plants offer different health benefits. There are plenty of fantastic and often-forgotten greens out there. Spring greens, romaine lettuce, kale and spinach are all good options.

3 Add healthy fats
Add in some healthy fats to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Try half an avocado, coconut meal, a tablespoon or two of yogurt or unsweetened nut butter.

4 Add a little sweetness
Fresh or frozen fruit can help add a little sweetness. Some great fruit bases include strawberries, blueberries, cherries and apples.

5 Add a boost
Follow the first four steps and you’ve got yourself a nutritious smoothie! But for added flavour and nutrition, consider a few additions such as protein powder, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flaxseeds.

Try some spices too – cinnamon, turmeric and ginger are packed with goodness.

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