What is a personal retreat day?
This week I took my first ever personal retreat day. I 1000% recommend everyone to take one of these days ASAP.
Before getting too much into it, what is a personal retreat day? It’s a day where the main focus is rest — for the emotions, mind, body, heart, and soul. Schedules are set aside, meetings are canceled, and work is meant to cease.
the history of a personal retreat day
I first heard about personal retreat days from the Campus Christian Fellowship (CCF) Staff. The CCF Staff describe them as a monthly sabbath, a day called to “remember it and keep it holy,” with the idea that you will do all your work for 29 days and then on the 30th day you will rest. Derrick Rohr of CCF explains it as “a way of establishing a rhythm of life and work that does not just naturally devolve into ‘everything all of the time’… and it helps keep us human, and attentive to the divine.” He goes on to say that “it’s a chance to catch our breath, to take a step back and see what our lives are like. It’s an opportunity to recenter and reorient, to listen, to delight.” The purpose of these days are necessary.
When I heard about these, it sounded like they were onto something that I wanted to get a part of (and I hope you have that feeling too!)
customizing your personal retreat day
A personal retreat day can look a lot of different days depending on the person. Sometimes it means going into nature and swimming or hiking, or reading something mindfully engaging or interesting, like an essay, scripture, or a novel. It could look like listening to a sermon or podcast. Maybe it’s eating or drinking something delicious, catching up with a friend, doing something active, etc. Read the Word, go to a movie, sit at a coffee shop for a few hours, sleep in, go for a long walk, get a massage, go to a monastery, read a book you have always wanted, pray, memorize scripture, visit a good friend you haven’t seen for a long time, cook a great meal, fast.
the goal of a personal retreat day
The goal is that the soul would be renewed, with the intention of pouring into and serving others. The benefits are rejuvenation – emotionally and spiritually. Not just on my personal retreat day, but on and on into the weeks and months.
My Personal Retreat Day
a visit to Ottumwa, Iowa
I drove to Ottumwa, Iowa. Have you heard of Ottumwa? I have because when you live in rural Missouri long enough, you learn about all the other smaller cities around. When I was trying to decide where I wanted to go for my retreat day, I opened Google Maps, and zoomed out of Kirksville. For some reason I felt like going north, so I looked at all of the cities and decided on Ottumwa. It seemed promising because there was a park, river, and coffee shops — some of my favorites. I chose to travel for my retreat day because I wanted to get away from Kirksville and into a new place I’ve never been to before.
time in the car
Time in the car. I don’t always love driving, but really enjoyed in on this day. It had just snowed the night before so the fields were snow covered and glistening in the sunrise (I woke up early to drive). I spent my car ride listening to my podcasts, reflecting, and thinking — it was lovely.
5 hours in one coffee shop
5 hours in one coffee shop. I found a big booth, next to a huge sunshiney window at Hub Coffee. I spread out all of my supplies and purchased a cup of unlimited coffee for $2. To me, this is a recipe for success. I spend a lot of my days going and going, moving and moving, that to me — sitting and being in one place is incredible. I had piles of everything and just switched to whatever I was interested in. I read, wrote, prayed, listened to music, read more, listened to podcasts, and more. I spent intentional time learning, reflecting, and thinking.
i packed more than i needed
I packed more than I needed. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to want, so I packed way more than I knew I needed. I packed two books, my bible, a journal, my laptop with downloaded music and podcasts. Also, SNACKS. I picked up some of my favorite snacks — dried strawberries, an apple, a banana, trail mix, almond butter, dark chocolate covered espresso beans, and carrots/pretzels and hummus. This is a ton of snacks for just a day, but guess what, I ate every single thing I had and enjoyed it.
I unplugged. To me, this looked like not checking social media, texting people, or getting on the internet. I texted Alan when I arrived in Ottumwa to let him know I made it, but other than that, everything else was off as a way to focus on the purpose of the day.
i walked around the park and river
I walked around the park and river. If you’ll remember, it snowed the night before, so it was actually freezing. Technically it was below freezing, like 8 degrees cold. Getting outside leaves me feeling refreshed and alive, so I spent a bit of time walking around and soaking up the new place.
stopped at an amish store
Stopped at an Amish store. I really enjoy walking around amish stores to look at all of the amazing foods, flours, grains, snacks, and baked goods they have. I picked up a souvenir for Al, too!
Worked out. As soon as I drove back from my 8 hour retreat to Ottumwa, I hit the rec to get a quick work out in! It keeps my mind and body feeling good!
read all night
Read all night. Instead of screens or starting homework for the year, I spent the 2 hours before bed reading. What a way for your soul to calm and body to slow down.
take your own personal retreat day
I urge you to take this kind of day. If you’re a student or work full-time, take a day off in the week. There’s something about changing up your schedule that is incredible and soul-shifting. If you absolutely can’t get away during the week, plan a Saturday or Sunday where you go into it with the intention of spending the day in retreat style. You don’t have to leave your city, but make it intentional. Make it purposeful, unique and refreshing. Make it soul-filling and life-giving.
- Have you ever taken a personal retreat day?
- What do you typically do on a personal retreat day?
- If you haven’t ever taken one, when are you going to and what will you do?