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How to Get a Fresh Start By Taking a Personal Retreat


Guest post from Jamie of From His Presence

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Do you wish you could get away from the rat race, and get your life back on track?

I usually feel that way a few times each year. However, I have found something that makes me feel better every time — taking a personal retreat.

A personal retreat is a time you set aside when you can just be alone. It doesn’t have to be costly or adventurous; you could retreat to a local park or your spare bedroom. It doesn’t even have to be long; just a few hours alone can make a huge difference.

The key to an effective personal retreat is simply to get away from your routine. Once you’re away, amazing things can happen!

Here are three ways to get the most out of your personal retreat:

1. Refresh.

Go somewhere peaceful and beautiful. Take time to rest, and let the beauty of your surroundings wash the stress away.

If you can, I encourage you to go somewhere outdoors. There’s something about nature that will lift your spirits! Find a quiet spot at a nearby park, forest, riverbank, or beach. (If you have to stay inside, make sure you go to a clean room, so you won’t think about the work you need to do the whole time!)

In October 2012, when I was considering starting my blog, I was desperate for some time to think and pray. So, my husband and I drove to the nearby Smoky Mountains National Park for a one-night camping trip. After a good night’s sleep, he went sightseeing so I could be alone.

The first thing I did was to go for a walk around the campground. The autumn leaves were at peak color. As I soaked in the peace and quiet of the woods, nature’s beauty brought healing to my frazzled soul. I felt like a new person by the time I finished that 30-minute walk.

Whether your beautiful spot is a spare bedroom, the woods, or the beach, going to a place where you can be refreshed by your surroundings will make all the difference.

2. Revamp.

After you feel rested, use your personal retreat to honestly evaluate what’s going well in your life, and what’s not.

Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • “What are some things I’ve succeeded in recently?” (Celebrate these!)
  • “Do I like the way my life looks right now? If not, what needs to change?”
  • “Do I have a dream I need to get started on—whether in big steps or in baby steps?”

Revamping requires an honest appraisal of where you are and where you’d like to be.

Before my personal retreat in October 2012, I felt like I was about to start a new season in life, but I didn’t know what that new season would look like. I had ideas, but no real sense of direction.

However, as I prayed, journaled, and even cried in my tent that day :), all my thoughts seemed to come together in one direction: writing and blogging. I knew that blogging would be a giant leap for me. Nevertheless, I also knew that my dream of writing and speaking would never happen if I didn’t take action. It was time to revamp some things so I could chase my dream.

You may need to revamp some things in order to chase your dream, too. So go ahead and identify the changes you need to make to get your life on track. Decide how to make those changes. You might have to be courageous, but it will be worth it!

3. Re-energize.

After you refresh and revamp, use your personal retreat to pump yourself up for the future.

  • Envision what you want the next 3-6 months of your life to look like. Write your vision down.
  • Set specific goals. Write them down.
  • Brainstorm ideas related to your vision. (Don’t critique your ideas;  just let yourself dream!)

Getting specific with your dreams and goals will motivate and inspire you like nothing else can.

A personal retreat is an opportunity for you to break with your past and design your future. If you are worn out, and dream of something better, I encourage you to take a retreat as soon as you can. Get refreshed. Revamp. Re-energize. No matter how simple your retreat is, it will help you prepare for the next season of your life.

Have you ever taken a personal retreat?

Jamie Rohrbaugh is a wife, financial analyst, Sunday School teacher, musician, and unlikely worship leader from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her passion is to encourage and equip people to live powerful lives and to function in their gifts. She blogs at From His Presence about how to live ordinary life in God’s manifest presence.

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  • Alexa says:

    I love this post, Jamie! Sometimes my personal retreat is just sitting on the couch alone doing nothing. There are sometimes that I just feel overwhelmed. When this happens I shut down the computer and my phone and clean. There’s something about cleaning when I’m stressed out that just makes me feel better and helps to think clearer.

    • Awesome, Alexa! I feel that way about vacuuming and decorating sometimes. Awhile back, I decorated a guest bedroom for the first time, and afterward I just kept going in there to sit in it and look because it was so pretty! I’m all for whatever it takes for you to get rested again! 🙂

  • Angelia says:

    I just want to say thank you for this post.

    So many times in my life as a mother, I have longed for a break. I have always shut out that little voice begging for some “me” time, because the voice that said “THERE’S TOO MUCH TO DO TO RELAX!” was much louder and threatened the crumbling of my world if I stopped to enjoy some peace and quiet. This article made me realize that taking a break might actually allow me to do my other jobs better. So, for the rest of this week, I am allowing myself to take the quiet moments (however infrequent or short!) for myself. I bought this book ages ago that I’ve been aching to read.

    Thank you for helping me give myself permission to breathe easy! 🙂

  • Victoria says:

    Wow! This could not have been posted at a better time for me. I was just saying to my husband this week, I just feel like I could benefit from some extended time alone. I thought he would say no way but instead he really encouraged me to go for it. I talked to it to my running buddy and she was all go for it too. So I got up the courage to book 2 nights away at a town not too far from us through Hotwire and now will soon face 48 hrs just me. I am hoping to get our school year fully organized and revamp my daily schedule and plan out goals for myself but also just enjoy extended time to pray and really listen.

  • Paige says:

    Right on, Jamie!

    My husband and I made it a goal at the beginning of last year to get away every other month for the weekend to pray, refocus & re-energize. With three children this isn’t always easy, (especially when the youngest is 6 months – so she is tagging along for now), but it is totally worth it!

    We always come back with a clarity that wasn’t there before.

  • Molly says:

    This post comes to me in a perfect time. My mother-in-law’s birthday is Monday and i was thinking of telling my husband to take the kids on Sunday to go visit her so that i can have some time to myself to get the things i want done alone. Nothing makes me happy than to have the house to myself, to listen to my music and clean the house. That is how i like to spend my time alone. I think i will tell him to do that. Thanks for the post.

  • Maia says:

    I like to go for a trail walk for my personal retreat time. Just to be alone and to think my thoughts without competition from anything else that wants my attention.

  • Theres says:

    Absolutely! I try to go on a 2-day personal retreat at least once a year. I go to a Christian camp during the off season. I spend the day hiking, praying, journaling, and reading Scripture. I bring simple foods to eat that don’t require heating or refrigeration. When I can’t get there, I’ll pack a lunch and spend the day at a local park or in the winter, at a state park with a greenhouse. I’ve also traded apartments with a friend so we can both go on retreat for free. =)

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