My Gwinganna Health Retreat Stay

Gosh. I don't quite know how to start this blog - my Gwinganna Health Retreat was indescribably amazing. I was literally bombarded with feelings of gratitude on a daily basis.

Let me first tell you how I came to be at a health retreat, for the first time in my life, leaving a four and five year old for seven. whole. nights.

Two words. Adrenal Fatigue. I'm sure many of you have heard this term before and some of you might even wonder if you have it? The only way to really work this out is by getting your cortisol levels tested (one of the stress hormones) via a series of salivary tests that can be ordered by your naturopath.

The main symptoms are extreme fatigue especially in the later half of the day, weight gain, especially around your middle, bad sleeping patterns eg. waking unprompted at times of the night when you should be sleeping (this is because cortisol and melatonin, your sleep hormone, are inextricably linked), emotional meltdowns, irrational thinking, sugar and carb carvings, anxiety, bouts of depression, problems with concentration and memory...sounds like a lot of us right?

I think many people out there need to look at the possibility and get tested for Adrenal Fatigue as it really needs to be prevented and looked at in so many people, especially my audience and customers! Mums are prime candidates for this often undiagnosed problem and it often arises after prolonged periods of stress, hormonal fluctuations and broken sleep!

Anyone else have their hand up?

Anyway, I reached the last stage of adrenal fatigue before I got tested and we found I was not even able to make much cortisol at the time of day I actually did need to be producing it. This is one of the last stages of adrenal fatigue. In earlier stages, your body will be flooded with cortisol and you will feel constantly 'wired but tired' and find it very difficult to relax.  As the months go on, without addressing the stresses in your life, you will deplete your adrenal gland function and not even be able to produce enough cortisol - which is also very bad.

So here I was.

I knew I really needed to make some changes or I would soon not be able to be there for my hubby or kids in the capacity I wanted to be.  I knew I wanted some sort of 're-set' time as changing so much at once was going to be hard. Slowing down and getting my stress levels under control, severely cutting down my business workload and getting myself off anything that was putting me into inflammation: my wine (nooooo!) sugar, gluten, dairy etc.

Well, it all felt a bit overwhelming to do alongside all my current parenting/wife/daughter/sister/friend/CEO duties. I needed some time. I needed to gather what little strength I had left to push forward into my next stage.

Enter Gwinganna Health Retreat.

At first I was a bit nervous about this seven night detox I had booked for myself. What if I couldn't cope without my family, my work, my wine, my internet!!?? Who would be there to pick me up if I fell apart? I even cried when my husband dropped me off at this stunning location and made a last desperate attempt of self sabotage by pleading with him "I've just changed my mind! And if you think it's so beautiful here, you stay the week and I'll drive back to Brisbane instead!" He laughed, thinking I was joking. I wasn't too sure if I was though!

After he drove off, it took exactly thirty minutes for me to completely turn my nervousness around. Because one of the first things I did was book my treatments! During a seven night stay, you have the luxury of four treatments included and can even add more if you want.

Every day from two o'clock onwards is known as 'Dreamtime' and this is the time you read a book, have a nap, lie by the pool or on the many acres of grass (five hundred acres!!) or have a treatment. I'm kinda obsessed with 'treatments' so I definitely booked more than my inclusions and then I had something every day to look forward to.

Gwinganna encourages no forward thinking or planning, just being in the present, so you don't find out which treatment you will be having until breakfast that morning. It was the best surprise every day and a great antidote to a 'control and planning' type personality like myself.

Now these treatments are much more than your average spa treatments! I will just let you know what I booked (see list below) but there are over seventy different and very unique types of treatments!

  1. Rockupuncture: a blend of acupuncture and hot stone massage
  2. Goddess at Gwinganna: a two hour kahuna massage with releasing breath work and some more hot stones thrown in for good measure! (The first two were my faves and recommended to me by a friend, so thankyou so much for the tips Alexx Stuart!)
  3. The Journey: a counselling based process designed to uncover your current emotional and energy blocks
  4. Chi Nei Tsang: a deep abdominal massage that works on your internal organs and helps release emotions and get your digestive system working better
  5. Colonic Hydrotherapy: to put in bluntly, a water hose up the bum which cleans out your colon - great for digestive health and washing any old fecal matter away
  6. Classic Remedial Massage
  7. Deep Cleansing Facial

Yep, all in all, I enjoyed my Dreamtime very much. The spa also has this amazing steam room with a ginormous amethyst crystal that you can relax in before or after your treatments!

So, so special.

Oh and the food! I was fed five times a day (three mains with morning and afternoon tea). An all organic, mainly plant based diet that was seriously gourmet. We did get a bit of chicken and fish towards the end of our detox week but this little carnivore didn't miss a thing! It was all so scrumptious and satisfying and the best bit was I didn't have to cook or clean anything up afterwards!

There are stacks of classes, activities and seminars to attend every day and it's all optional but I tried to do as much as possible to take advantage of everything I could so here is what my typical day looked like, seven days in a row.

6.15am - woke up to a knock at my door (you can opt out of this) and joined in the Qi Gong class on the hill overlooking Tallebudgeera Valley as the sun was rising over the ocean

7am - a gentle walk or yoga class

8am - breakfast and finding out what was on for the day

9am - stretch class

9.30am - my class of choice (might have been more yoga or tribal dancing or whatever appealed to me on the day!)

11am - morning tea

11.30 - seminar on a relevant health topic (detoxification, whole foods, conscious living, sleep etc.)

1pm - lunch

2pm - dreamtime (pool, reading, naps, treatments!)

6pm - meditation class or sitting by the restaurant fireplace watching the flames

7pm - dinner

8pm - bed

It was magic.

I didn't miss TV, I didn't miss internet and I didn't miss my phone. I read two books that week and was asleep by 8.30pm every night. I still woke at crazy times but hey, you can't fix AF overnight!

My husband and sister asked me what was my very favourite part of the whole week - was it the food? the treatments? the amazing swims in the infinity pools?  But without hesitation, I answered both times - my favourite part of my health retreat was simply the absence of doing anything for anyone...including myself.

I didn't have to even make my bed! All I had to was keep showing up, staying present in each moment and letting this long lost feeling of relaxation slowly unfurl within me. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I was just bombarded with feelings of gratitude in so many moments and sometimes I just wept with relief and release.

Now, I know not everyone can take off to a health retreat. This has always been on my bucket list of things to do in my life and it was just sped up due to the state I've gotten myself into. I have a very supportive and hands on hubby that was able to work from home for the week as well as the most amazing mum who always makes herself available when she's needed and was also there as an extra pair of hands for my two young kids.

I work for myself so I just had to prepare things a bit for my team to completely take over for me for the week. And of course it's not financially available to some of us. I didn't think it was for me either, but I made it happen. Sometimes things like cost seem so irrelevant when you really need some help.

If you would like to work on the relationship you have with yourself while manifesting getting to a place like Gwinganna, please have a look at my Relationship Pack and if you just need a bit of help getting through right now, please check out my Looking After Yourself Pack.

EDITED: I have been back once a year since my initial stay in 2015 and have now done 5 retreats at Gwinganna! All have been magical and all have been just what the naturopath ordered! ;) I have never gone into adrenal fatigue again since making myself and my health a priority and while I do fall into a slump from time to time, a yearly stay always helps to re-set and redirect me and for that I'm eternally grateful. I've even dragged my husband there for a weekend stay which he also loved! 

Yours In Health,

Alisha x

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