I Planned My Own Mental Health Retreat
8 min read

I Planned My Own Mental Health Retreat

I Planned My Own Mental Health Retreat

Hi friends! I recently took a trip to an Airbnb to relax and focus on my mental health, in the form of what was essentially my own personal retreat, and because I enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it with you in case you might enjoy something similar.

Check out my video about the trip on YouTube!

Over on my YouTube channel you can find a vlog of the trip in which I've shared more personal thoughts, so if you want to hear specific things I learned or see more of the location definitely go check that out! Here, though, I'm going to focus on how I planned the trip leading up to it and the activities I selected.


There are many reasons why you might want to take a few days off work, travel somewhere, or spend time focusing on your mental health, and in fact it was a combination of several things that lead me to pull the trigger and do so, although most could be attributed to the pandemic.

For the past year I have been working from home. I have genuinely preferred working from home because of the amount of time and money I save by not driving and the additional flexibility of being able to pause the workday for a personal project and resume it later, however it does have its downsides as well. One of the biggest is that most of my time is spent on my computer at the desk. I custom built the desk last year, and it's a great desk if I do say so myself, but between 40 hours a week of work and maybe 20 of hobbies in the same place it can be a bit of a bore.

Another problem I've been realizing lately is a lack of self care in my life. I take care of the sort of critical things: usually sleeping enough, showering, eating and drinking, taking walks; but smaller things get overlooked. Cleaning up work at the end of the day and on work time, for example, including things like the coffee cups that you might otherwise wash before leaving the office, instead of letting that mess transfer over to your personal life. Playing relaxing music. Taking random photos just for fun. Enjoying a tasty treat. Just staring out the window for a minute.

And the final thing is that I've been saving up my vacation time for no apparent reason. Initially, early in 2020, I was saving it for a vacation, and then when that got cancelled, for a longer vacation when COVID-19 went away. Then it became saving it because there wasn't much to do if I took time off. Then I got busy at work and felt bad taking time away from the project because it's something I'm very proud of. Eventually I just got comfortable not taking time off and didn't want to because it was now outside my comfort zone to stop working and go somewhere, even though that used to be a common occurrence. When I started taking a few hours off every week or two because I was nearing the cap of how many vacation days I can keep I realized there was a problem.

When I found myself explaining to my therapist how much I missed traveling and the reasons in my mind why I couldn't, I began to see that most of the barriers were either gone, like stay at home orders, of my own making like the need to step out of my comfort zone, or surmountable, like not wanting to go to far or not knowing what to do.

And so, this trip was born.


The secret to a good trip is a good plan.

I know there are people out there who love to just get in their car, go somewhere, and see what they find, but that's not how I like to travel. I can certainly appreciate spontaneity, and even enjoy it when I'm with someone spontaneous, but I'm just not good at it. If I don't have a plan I'll spend all my time either deciding what to do or on social media because I don't know what to do.

For this trip, I decided on fewer adventures and more focus on mental health. If I'm honest, the idea just came about because most places near anything were already booked. But I enjoyed the trip so I'm glad it did.

1. Choose a Place

The first step of any trip is to pick a place to go. If you're planning a trip for mental health or self care specifically, then the most important thing is to find somewhere that is safe, calm, and quiet. Airbnb has lots of cute options for a pleasant day in. Check out the area a bit for shops in case you forget something, restaurants, and one or two activities you might enjoy like hiking.

2. Plan your Travel

Next you need to figure out how to get to this place: whether to drive or fly and what sort of time and cost are required. If you're driving, look for opportunities to do something fun along the route. At this point you can get a better idea of the total price of the trip and begin to book everything as well.

3. Plan Activities

What you do with your trip is really up to you, but I will have details below of what I did to give you some inspiration.

I suggest starting the trip with some normal activity that you enjoy, which for me was hiking, and then do another activity you enjoy at the end, if you have time. In between take a day to stay in and focus on yourself. If you're not used to doing a lot of self care, sandwiching the self care between other things helps to avoid feeling like the trip was a waste of time.

On your self care day, choose some classes or videos to help you learn new self care skills and pick some relaxing activities to do like coloring or meditation. Again, these can be whatever you like, but choosing them in advance will help you to have a structure and plan when you get there.

4. Plan Food

Obviously you'll need to eat on your trip, and I suggest doing at least some of your own cooking for the experience of it, although a backup restaurant or sandwiches just in case doesn't hurt.

You'll want to plan meals for the travel there and back and each meal while you're there. If you aren't crazy about cooking don't forget there are still plenty of easy options that can be done on the road without too much trouble. Personally, I made canned chili and spaghetti with a jar of sauce for my dinners: nothing difficult or fancy, but enough to connect with the cooking experience.

Choose some snacks and beverages you enjoy as well. Chocolate, cheese, wine, tea, coffee, etc. Things that make you happy. Pack some to partake of at your leisure throughout the trip.

5. Plan Details

Finally, plan the details of the trip. This doesn't need to be done far in advance, but at some point before you leave make a rough schedule in blocks of an hour or two of what you're going to do and when.

Without a plan there's a likelihood, at least for me, to get off track, waste time, spend too much time on one thing and not enough on another, and so on. Not to mention I might just totally forget the plans I had. I don't suggest planning things down to the minute, because you want to have some flexibility and you don't want to get off the schedule right off the bat and never get back on again. Leave in some extra time so you're not rushed and make paint in the activities with a broad brush.

My Trip

Again, your mental health retreat can look however you want, but if you want some ideas from mine I'll show you below exactly what I did!


First of all, here's the Airbnb that I stayed at:

Airbnb: Vacation Rentals, Cabins, Beach Houses, Unique Homes & Experiences

I recommend staying somewhere that looks inviting to your: personally I found this place to be really cute and if you're in the area I'm sure the host wouldn't mind more customers, but really anywhere that looks nice to you from any company is totally fine!


I selected classes from Skillshare, which requires a paid membership, but if you have Skillshare or are considering it I do recommend these classes, and otherwise feel free to browse the titles for ideas (in order of completion):


This is my schedule so you can get an idea of what it looked like, but yours will obviously look different! You can see I blocked it off on hour to several hour intervals, and suggest you do the same. The idea is to have enough structure to keep yourself on track but not so much you can't be flexible and adapt.

Day 1:

11:00 Hiking, photos, and video

2:00 Drive to AirBnB, check in


Focus on the surroundings: Sights, sounds, and feelings.

  • Arrive and Check In
  • Explore the house and property.
  • Settle in
  • Journal. Journaling will help clear your mind, relieve the tension of a new place, and prepare you for the visit. Resolve any lingering thoughts.


  • Make Dinner (Heating Chili)
  • Self-Care for Creatives by Jade Sta Ana


Just list some ideas in advance for a bit of free time, these were mine

  • Consider Self-Care
  • Mindfulness: Meditation, Journal, Hot Tub, Reflection
  • Writing
  • Shower
  • Refreshments
  • Reading

11:00 Bed

Day 2:

Remember to be in the moment. Make now about now and appreciate each detail.

Relax and enjoy the day. Don’t stress about completing the list or think about upcoming events. Enjoy pleasant food and drink.


  • Make and Eat Breakfast
  • How to Create Your Own Self Care List by KW Professional Organizers

10:00 Consider Self-Care and create a self care list

11:00 How to Not Feel Like A Failure by Rebecca Gibson


  • Meditation
  • Make at Eat Lunch
  • Walk around the property


  • How to use and implement change to improve your life by Raymond Baxter
  • Hot Tub Time

4:00 Productivity: How to Plan and Schedule a Stress-free Workweek by Rey B.


  • Build a Campfire
  • Bullet Journaling for Self Care and Productivity by Wanda The Brave
  • Reflection and Writing

7:00 Make at Eat Dinner

8:00 Changing Habits: 101 by Zachary Phillips


  • Journaling to reflect on the day and on life.
  • Shower
  • Reading

11:00 Bed

Day 3:


  • Shower
  • Make and Eat Breakfast
  • Pack a lunch


Take a few minutes to appreciate the trip and surroundings one last time

  • Pack up
  • Note my closing thoughts


  • Check-out time
  • Drive to park for exploration, photos, and video


  • Drive back home
  • Settle in at home
  • Look at photos, video, or notes from the trip
  • Spend time with family

I greatly enjoyed this trip and found it to be very helpful for me, so if something like this would interest you I highly reccomend it and hope this helps!

As a disclaimer, I am not a mental health professional and everything here is simply to tell you about my own life and give you ideas that might benefit you as well. Activities like the ones mentioned here can be great additions to your self care to boost your mental health but are not a substitute for therapy or other professional help if you are struggling, and if you find yourself in that situation I highly recommend therapy.

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