I learned the importance of personal retreats while engaged in environmental justice work. I was burning the candle at both ends, extremely worn out, and found myself becoming ineffective. I was losing my passion and my temper. I was out of balance and knew something needed to change if I wanted to continue being an effective leader and impact the world positively.
The importance of taking time away from work and daily responsibilities to increase our effectiveness and productivity is supported through scientific research, the life of Jesus Christ, and spiritual teachers and leaders throughout history.
Let’s take a look at a few of the published scientific articles:
It has been shown that retreating for the purpose of reflection, inspiration, and for relational purposes builds resilience and enhances well-being (Steckler & Waddock, 2018). Work breaks reduce emotional exhaustion and increase resource recovery and job satisfaction (Hunter & Wu, 2016). Creative activity is positively associated with increased performance (Eschleman, Madsen, Alarcon, & Barelka, 2014) and recovery processes are associated with increased well-being (Sonnentage, Venz, & Casper, 2017).
From a physiological standpoint, numerous studies have shown the impact of both sleep deprivation and food deprivation on the body and mind. It is common knowledge that our bodies need time to recharge and refuel in order to stay healthy and active in life.
There’s also quite a bit written in popular culture about the importance of retreating. Robinson (2016) writing for Entrepreneur magazine states, “Performance increases after breaks of all durations: from extended vacations down to microbreaks of 30 seconds.” Retreating for the purpose of developing strategic plans and vision statements is a common activity of many successful people as evidenced by numerous books and articles on the subject.
Spiritual leaders also engage in taking time away for the purpose of recharging. When I worked at a church years ago, the leadership team retreated a few times each year to engage in rejuvenation and strategic planning. In fact, Jesus Christ himself often took time away from the crowds to pray and connect. Gaultiere (2006) writes about the book of Mark and cites 9 occurrences of Jesus going on spiritual retreat for the purpose of strengthening, empowerment, and rejuvenation.
Even though it is often applauded to be strong and to keep-on-keeping-on, I encourage you to take time for yourself to recharge and refuel. You will find yourself more peaceful, grounded, effective, and productive. You will be happier too!
Tree of Life Education Center champions personal retreats. We’ve put together powerful programs in a virtual format. You will experience a personalized retreat utilizing nature, mindfulness, art, music, movement, nutrition, and journal writing. To learn more, visit treeoflifeeducationcenter.com.