Unwind Your Way: How to Craft a Personal Wellness Break

Sponsored by Allianz Travel

As the world whirls on with its relentless pace, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of daily life, especially for overworked and exhausted moms.

Amidst the chaos of juggling responsibilities, deadlines, and endless to-do lists, the need for a solo break becomes not just a luxury but a necessity for maintaining sanity and well-being.

person lying on duck beach
Topsy Turvy Life

If you’ve found yourself in the whirlwind of stress and exhaustion, craving a respite from the demands of daily life, perhaps it’s time to craft your own personal wellness break.

In this post, I’ll share tips for crafting your own wellness break and insights into my own personal solo retreat last month in Duck on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

(Psst: Mother’s Day is coming. A wellness break for the much-loved mother in your life is the most perfect gift! Drop those hints moms, you deserve it.)

The Healing Bridge of a Solo Retreat

woman walking on duck boardwalk
Duck Boardwalk

It was a rough start for 2024 for me that began with the sudden death of our 18-month-old cat, Ivy.

Ivy was my daily shadow who filled my heart with a special kind of love. Her death broke my heart wide open so the years of hidden grief, regret, disappointment, and shame could rise to the surface and finally get the chance to heal.

What followed were months filled with tears and an overwhelming array of stressors, from financial pressures to parenting challenges and health concerns. I felt like an ant desperately trying to avoid the stomping of the giant feet all around me. 

After a shocking diagnosis of severe depression (so those daily tears and difficulty to do anything wasn’t just because of Ivy?) I got to work employing many strategies to help me – one of those included taking a solo wellness break.

Just a few days to escape the overwhelming pressure I felt trying to make it through another day solving problems that felt way too out of my control.

overlooking duck beach
Duck Beach

Circumstances aligned with a wellness travel campaign with our long-term partner, Allianz Travel Insurance, so I drove to the Outer Banks, one of my favorite places in North Carolina, for a three day break.

While it didn’t solve my problems, it gave me a space I needed to recenter, refresh, reconsider, and realign with what’s most important to me. Now I feel more able to move more into my word for the year: EXPANSION.

Ironic, I know, but to expand you must first contract. This getaway was the healing bridge back into expansion.

Tips for Crafting Your Own Wellness Break

woman on pier in front of sunset in duck nc

Crafting your own wellness break is all about tuning into your unique needs and desires. Take the time to reflect on what brings you joy and rejuvenation, and tailor your experience accordingly.

Whether it’s practicing mindfulness through meditation, indulging in spa treatments, or engaging in outdoor activities like kayaking or beach walks, design a personalized itinerary that speaks to your soul.

What do you need most?

woman sitting on duck beach watching sunrise
Sunrise on Duck Beach

When I first decided to take this break, I began searching for wellness retreats, thinking that was the only way to get this restorative break I needed. But to be honest, none really resonated with me. 

It’s something I want to do in the future, but for this break, I needed an experience that wasn’t structured or timed as I was feeling broken by schedules, frameworks, and to dos.

person on lap top
Coffee break

I realized a wellness break can be however you choose. Probably the best way to embrace this new trend is to think about what you most need from a break and craft it yourself. Create an experience that is gentle on your body, mind, and spirit. 

It will be a little freer, more in tune with you, and probably a lot more affordable.

So, ask yourself:

  • What kind of break do you need?
  • What do you love the most?
  • What nourishes you and brings you joy?
  • Where can you find this in the most simplest, gentlest, and affordable way?

Important: Disconnect from Technology

woman lying  on the beach
Book time on the beach

I recommend you take a break from technology and immerse yourself fully in the present moment. Disconnecting from the digital world allows you to reconnect with yourself and the natural beauty surrounding you.

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t do it 100% as I did have some work to do. You wouldn’t be reading these tips otherwise, and I’m okay with that. But if you’re not writing a post about wellness travel, then switch off!

I replaced the aimless scrolling however with walks, journaling, reading books, and watching the ocean breathe. 

My books to read for this retreat were;

Choose a Small and Quiet Destination

woman kayaking at pine island nc
Kayaking in Pine Island, Outer Banks

Choosing your destination is key to optimizing your wellness break. My best advice is to go small and quiet and connect to nature, not built up and busy areas.

After debating between the North Carolina mountains and the North Carolina coast, I decided my spirit really needed the healing touch of the salty spray and the sun kissing my skin. 

duck beach at sunrise
Duck Beach, OBX

I wanted to isolate myself in one area on the coast, where I would not be enticed to explore to much!

Even though I’ve been traveling all my life I suffer from FOMO. It’s always in my head I may never be here again, so I have to see and do it all!

So, I chose Duck on the Outer Banks in mid-April before peak season. I’ve been to the Outer Banks plenty of times so no need for FOMO. It was also a short(ish) drive from home in Raleigh.

I did not want the stress of flying anywhere, nor for too much time to be taken up reaching my destination. Driving on your own also brings its own blissfulness with your favorite tunes turned up loud or listening to inspiring audiobooks and podcasts (choose wisely). (On my return home I got to fully absorb the Tortured Poets Society journey! #awesome)

looking over swimming pool and firepits with ocean behind for sanderling resort
Sanderling Resort, Duck, NC

I also chose Sanderling Resort as it’s a more luxurious stay on the oceanfront at Duck with not a lot around it except quiet isolation, pampering and stunning views.

Paying more for accommodation makes sense if you’re saving on attractions and not booking an expensive wellness retreat. Plus, if it helps heal your soul, it’s a worthy investment. Sanderling was soothing for my soul.

Of course, I couldn’t help myself and had planned bike rides into Duck town, but as soon as I arrived at the Sanderling Resort and saw what it was offering, I canceled all plans except my kayak trip, and just stayed at the resort. (Oh, and the universe made that decision for me anyway as I left Raleigh in a brain fog and forgot my bike!)

person writing in notebook on sanderling resort suite balcony
Journaling on my rooms deck

I’m now writing this before checking out. It’s a cooler morning so I am not tempted to swim. I can hear the ocean, I feel calmer than I’ve been in months, and a flock of pelicans just gracefully flew past my window in a V shape.

Seek out those simple moments that bring your soul so much nourishment. You don’t need as much as you think you do.

Embrace Nature’s Healing Touch

woman walking on duck beach nc
Beach walks

Nature has a remarkable ability to heal and rejuvenate our weary souls. Whether it’s the calming sound of ocean waves, the gentle rustle of the thick forest, or the warmth of the sun on your skin, spending time in nature can work wonders for your well-being.

Make it a point to immerse yourself in the natural beauty surrounding you, whether it’s by taking leisurely walks along the beach, practicing yoga on the soft sand, or simply basking in the sun’s rays.

As mentioned, I chose Sanderling Resort for easy access to beach walks and lying on the sand reading my books – a rare treat. I was hoping to swim, but the water was still a little fresh – perfect, however, if you love cold plunging (a trending wellness hack).

sunrise over the water in duck nc

You may want to align it with other gentle activities like yoga on the beach. I missed this at Sanderling by just a few days since I was traveling in shoulder season; it was only happening on the weekends. Check to see if there are available yoga classes outside your accommodation or bring your own mat and practice your way.

Staying on the beach meant easy access for glorious sunrises, which in the Outer Banks are some of my favorites in the world – dolphins usually turn up. They didn’t on this trip, but that’s okay, I had plenty of birds flying by.

I know on a wellness break you may think sleeping in is what you need, and perhaps it is. But, also consider going to bed early – remember you’re now living demand free – and then rise early. There is so much healing love and uplifting energy you receive from a rising sun!

Sanderling is also situated on a narrow strip of the barrier island, which means it’s also right near the Sound – or Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. And that means exquisite sunsets over the water.

pier in water with red sunset behind duck nc
Incredible sunset

On my last evening, I sat eating the most delicious shrimp and scallop risotto at the cozy Paper Canoe restaurant watching this incredible sunset. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace on a level I haven’t felt in a long time. I was so happy to see my soul again. 

Keeping it Simple and Slow

woman standing on boardwalk in the pine island sanctuary
Audubon Pine Island Sanctuary

In a world that glorifies busyness, there’s beauty in simplicity and slowness. Embrace the art of doing nothing and allow yourself to savor each moment without the pressure of productivity looming over you.

Whether it’s lounging by the pool with a good book, indulging in a leisurely massage, or savoring a delicious meal with loved ones, prioritize activities that bring you joy and nourishment.

Apart from the intended bike riding, and some walks, I had planned only one activity – a kayak through the Audubon Pine Island Sanctuary marshlands. 

kayakers in the audobon pine island sanctuary
Kayak through marshlands

Zen embraced me with flawless clear blue skies, a comforting sun, and tranquil waters. I loved learning about the birdlife and how this place has transformed over the years from depleted hunting grounds to a vibrant rest stop for migrating birds—thanks in part to the powerful advocacy of many women who demanded change.

Finding moments to experience wonder and awe are important for soul nourishment. Is there an activity you can do that can bring you into this space and remind you that there is a lot of good still happening in the world.

Coming to Sanderling during a quiet time meant I had the (adults only) swimming pool and spa almost to myself.

woman sitting around swimming pool
Pool time
hot tub and swimming pool area of sanderling resort
All to myself

At night, I could sit around the firepit with just me, my thoughts and a mesmerizing crackling fire. I realized how lovely it was to not have simple moments like this interrupted by conversation with others. I’m social and love that, but I rarely get to sit in quiet contemplation. These simple moments were blissful.

woman sitting around firepit
I do love a fire pit

I’m sure, like me, you struggle with sitting still – there’s always something to do and somewhere to go. It was difficult to replace doing something with nothing.

I don’t think it matters how healthy your head space is, it’s difficult to just sit and be. I mean even the cave men – with little distractions – were busy building fires, hunting, and staying alive.

And so, I was still doing this trip – a lot because of work. How else did I capture all these beautiful photos and videos right?

woman on nature trail
Loved having this forested trail to myself

I love what I do and that’s a good thing. So, as my journaling revealed, if working a little while on this trip nourishes me and brings me joy, then do it.

I just made sure I did only what was necessary. And the moments in between, I sank into the presence. Those simple and slow moments, even just five minutes, of being fully present with the sound of the ocean, or the birds flying by, will uplift your soul. 

Go Within

person sitting in chairs watching sunrise on duck beach
Good morning!

You’re in a destination with little distractions, you’re surrounded by natural beauty, you can see and hear yourself again, take advantage of that by carving out time to go within.

You can’t heal what you aren’t aware of. A wellness break gives you space to tap into that awareness, reclaim your power and start making positive changes.

The powerful tools I used to gain clarity, reconnect to myself, raise my energy and strength, and express gratitude were journaling, meditation and breathwork.

Meditation and journaling have been my daily go-to practices for well over a decade, but with the blackness of the past few months, I found them difficult to do. Of all the benefits of this wellness break, getting back to these practices was the most powerful.

Breathwork is something new I have started, and I intend to take it back into the chaos with me once I leave this beautiful barrier island. I am surprised at how it can drastically change your energy and how you move through the world. 

woman watching sunrise on duck beach
I love the oceans energy

Dig deep into the quiet moments of your wellness break to find your power, reconnect with yourself, and develop life changing practices you can take home with you.

Take moments throughout your wellness break to reflect on the blessings that surround you and the beauty of the present moment, Cultivating an attitude of gratitude and appreciation for the abundance in your life will be the bridge that moves you from dark to light. 

Not sure where to start with some of these powerful practices? Take advantage of the many available apps and tools now that can guide you through it.

Here is what I use:

  • A journal: Use the power of the pen to release your struggles, gain clarity, express gratitude, prayer for your new beginning
  • Insight Timer is a great free meditation app
  • Abbey Daw’s membership is for breathwork and meditation 

Prioritize Self-Care

woman lying beside pool reading a travel book
Books instead of screens

Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your wellness break. Whether it’s through pampering spa treatments, nourishing meals, or restorative activities, prioritize activities that replenish your mind, body, and spirit.

Drop all the excuses and guilt – you deserve pampering. If you’re a parent especially, so much of your life is consumed by taking care of others first.

You now have permission to turn that energy to yourself. You can give yourself a couple of days and some of your hard-earned money. The return on that investment will be ten-fold.

I had to keep telling myself that as I indulged in a bamboo massage at the Spa at Sanderling Resort. The guilt, strong, as I feel wasteful and like I’m stealing from others.

No, I’m giving to myself, so I can shine a brighter light.

It was one of the best massages of my life and my body felt so relaxed after it. My other self-care was everything I mentioned above, being simple, slow, nourishing my body with delicious meals, and just enjoying the suns and salty spray.

Pay attention to your body’s cues and honor its need for rest and rejuvenation. Whether it’s getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, or engaging in gentle movement, listening to what your body needs and honoring it with kindness and compassion.

I was sure to listen to it when it was calling me to go to bed early and wake early for sunrise. But to also listen to it on the last morning when sunrise was overcast, to give it more rest with an extra hour of sleep. I had no carpool to worry about!

As frequent travelers, we have an annual travel insurance policy. We love that we can decide to travel on a whim and leave the front house and not have to worry about buying that policy. The last thing I want on a wellness break is to have a situation that will cost me more financially and leave me without support.

Allianz Travel also has a valuable Allyz TravelSmart app to help you find your important policy details, file a claim, find local
emergency services, get answers about insurance features, use a medical translator, or access Allianz assistance.

Reflect and Implement

woman on balcony  of sanderling resort suite looking at ocean view
Ocean views

This wasn’t a complete wellness break for me, as it does involve some work. But it still helped me a lot! And I’m very fortunate I get to make things like this part of my work. Now I see the benefit I plan to, in the future, do these wellness breaks without work attached.

The true benefit of a wellness break is to have what you gain within it to extend into your life once you return to chaos.

Upon returning from my break, my overwhelming problems have not magically disappeared. In fact, I felt like I was going to break down again when I returned and it all just piled up back on top of me.

HOWEVER, taking that time out, even just for a few days, did recenter and ground myself and help me connect to my power. While I feel I have problems to solve far out of my control right now, my trip showed me that I have tools at my disposal to help.

woman taking a selfie
Feeling so much better

I’m now committed to, and following through with, my daily meditation, journaling and breathwork. I’m taking those frequent breaks to be present and experience joy. I’m waking earlier to take advantage of those quiet and creative morning hours to write content and courses I’ve been putting off for months. – refusing to look at my phone so I’m not distracted and consumed by thoughts of how I’m not good enough.

These small daily practices I know will help me to create the change and solve the issues. The wellness break gave me that steady anchor and lever to make it happen.

In the midst of life’s chaos and demands, taking a moment to unwind and prioritize your well-being is not just a luxury—it’s a necessity. So, embrace the healing joy of nature, keep your activities simple and slow, and craft your own personal wellness break that nourishes your mind, body, and soul. You deserve it.

How are you going to craft your own wellness break and rituals?

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