Stacy Berns, President & Founder of Berns Communications Group and co-founder of The DealmakeHers, … [+]
I recently returned from the Women’s Health Long Weekend wellness retreat in Southern California, hosted by publisher Nancy Berger and her editor in chief, Liz Plosser. While indulging in a little selfcare with 30 powerhouse women, I unintentionally made friends for life and expanded new business opportunities. 48 hours communing with likeminded women not only recharged my soul but reenergized my business.
What makes these corporate retreats so beneficial is that, well, quite frankly, they don’t feel corporate. And they don’t feel like work. Yet they offer overworked women, who are often juggling multi-hyphenate careers, the time and activities they need to heal their minds and bodies and, importantly, to cultivate valuable relationships. All of which, of course, make them better bosses, mothers, partners and friends.
Selfcare is a big component of wellness retreats and the education surrounding the curated activities are helping to shift the narrative; selfcare is a necessity not a luxury. Stress, which in turn affects sleep, negatively impacts weight, mood, hormones, productivity and longevity. Reducing stress and catching up on sleep positively impacts work, relationships, motivation and decision making.
“It’s important to switch your mental state from ‘fight or flight’ to ‘rest and digest,’” said Mona Sharma. The holistic nutritionist added, “There is power in collective community when women can come together to remind themselves how important it is to stop. We get caught up in the human ‘doing’ and forget about the human ‘being.’”
Guests at the Women’s Health Long Weekend enjoyed immersive experiences like meditation, yoga and … [+]
And so, while experiencing unique and immersive experiences, like a candlelit labyrinth meditation, a sunrise hike, a cleansing sound bath or a breathtaking breathing workshop, women at wellness retreats have plenty of time to focus on the “being.” “Holistic wellness is one of my life goals that the Women’s Health Long Weekend gave me the unique opportunity to take one step closer to achieving,” said retreat guest and CEO of NuFACE, Jessica Hanson.
“A great Long Weekend with Women’s Health Magazine and The DealmakeHers – where wellness and spirituality (and some very good wine and swag) replaced panels and the golf course for dealmaking and friendship.” So said Stacy Berns, president and founder of public relations firm Berns Communications Group, and co-founder with Stacey Widlitz of The DealmakeHers, a network of female dealmakers in the retail and consumer space, many of whom were at the retreat. “Words can’t describe the feeling of spending a Long Weekend at the most beautiful place with the most incredible, supportive people,” she said.
And feeling supported is a key benefit. Retreats are a great way to cultivate trusted relationships and foster collaboration – activities in the outside world that may be referred to as networking. In the context of retreats, however, it may look more like cheering on a new friend as she vulnerably shares a personal story or submerges in an ice bath.
Women’s Health Long Weekend hosts, Liz Plosser, Women’s Health editor in chief and Nancy Berger, … [+]
“[The ice bath] felt like the crescendo with everyone pulling for each other,” said Plosser. “Then we all soared down the hill, through the rest of the day’s activities, exhilarated by what we’d accomplished, together. And I think we were all really cracked open, and bonded, having gone through that together.”
“I’ve been to countless events where there are boss babes and bad*ss b*tches, and nothing has felt like this,” said Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour. The entrepreneur, investor and America’s first Black female combat pilot said what makes wellness retreats so effective is the notion of teamwork. “We weren’t just a group of people; we became a team. And a team is different than a group. A group is not aligned in their mission, and we were so aligned. Even during the breathing exercise, it was like one breath.” She said the relationships she made at the retreat “are with me for the long haul.”
Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour with fellow guests at the Women’s Health Long Weekend
Retreats like WH’s Long Weekend do foster a unique type of female bonding. Cristina Nuñez, the co-founder of True Beauty Ventures, approached the retreat with some trepidation, wondering if she belonged with this group of highly accomplished women. “What I quickly realized is for those couple of days we were all the exact same. And it felt amazing. There was none of that pressure or expectation to act or be viewed as this ‘successful professional woman.’ The focus was on being human and what it means to be whole. And I think for a lot of us high performing professional women, we don’t often get that moment to just be with ourselves yet not entirely alone because here we were surrounded by this incredible group of mostly strangers who quickly became our team.”
Some of these new relationships began to bear fruit quickly, with deals being struck at the retreat and several others underway.
So, what did we learn from the coaches and speakers who created a safe space for the women to explore their own personal journeys?
Jay Shetty and Radhi Devlukia-Shetty
Many of us do things for other people simply because we want them to be impressed by us, says Jay Shetty. The 8 Rules of Love author, former monk and life coach says, “We’ve been trained to look in a mirror and then send a picture to a whole group chat and ask, ‘How do I look in this?’” We forget to ask ourselves the more important question, ‘How do I think I look in this?’” When you take a moment to honor and validate yourself, he says, it gives you confidence, courage and strength.
“I believe how you start your day is how you live your day,” said Plosser. She feels so strongly about her morning routine, she started a hashtag #ownyourmorning (the hashtag has more than 183k views on TikTok and almost 11k posts on Instagram.) Plosser says your routine can be whatever gives you the power to move on with your day confidently but make it non-negotiable.
Radhi Devlukia-Shetty feels similarly about her evening routine. The Ayurvedic nutritionist not only dims artificial light before bedtime but suggests a short foot or scalp massage using meditative or herbal oils to alleviate tension.
Sharma says you need to learn to be able to spend some time in stillness with yourself. Start slowly, a few minutes each day, and build on it.
Intermittent fasting, going long stretches of time without food, isn’t hype, says Sharma. It’s essential. Fasting supports growth hormone (which is fat burning!), gives your digestive system a break, increases metabolism, helps with mental focus and reduces inflammation.
Food is fuel and we should fuel our body with macro nutrients every day, which include grass-fed, organic proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates that come from the earth, not a box. Since we don’t need fuel to sleep, Sharma recommends switching to an early dinner, or skipping dinner altogether.
Spending time away, on a golf course or at a wellness retreat, makes us better bosses, employees, moms, partners and friends. But female wellness retreats offer a special kind of bonding hard to find elsewhere. Several called the experience “magical” and to quote one, “Gatherings like this remind us of who we want to be when we go back into the world.”
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort