Retreat Society is a new online directory promoting self-care while supporting local small businesses

Retreat Society is a new online directory promoting self-care while supporting local small businesses

It’s no secret that self-care is often the first thing that gets sacrificed when life is busy and stressful, and people often think that taking time for themselves seems indulgent, especially in current times when it might feel like the world is crumbling around you.

It’s looking after your own wellbeing and taking time out from the hustle and bustle of the daily, however, that will help you get through this challenging time, and will help you to better care for others.

It’s this rational that spawned the creation of the Retreat Society, Victoria’s one and only self-care directory featuring a handpicked selection of delightful local businesses designed to help people take care of their mental and physical wellbeing.

“I created retreat society as a response to the hectic pace and pressures of my career, relationships, social life, health, hobbies and everything in between – I knew I was on the path to burnout,” says Retreat Society founder Emma Morgan.

“Life started to feel more and more like a never-ending to do list; an unrelenting pursuit to tick the next item off in order to ‘have it all together’ in order to be more successful or feel happier. It was exhausting, unsustainable and I realised something had to change or I’d be stuck riding this hamster wheel forever.

“By slowing down and introducing daily self-care practices, I discovered that true happiness isn’t found in external items, awards, achievements or ‘doing’ more. True happiness can instead be found when you slow down, be a little kinder to yourself and start to appreciate all the wonderful things you already do have,” Emma says.

“Retreat Society is here to encourage busy go-getters to take some time out from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, to slow down and look after our health and wellbeing. We’re all facing challenging and uncertain times in the world right now, so it’s never been more important to take care of ourselves; body and mind.”

Providing simple ideas to nourish mental health, people can browse the directory to explore the six categories. ‘Pamper’ lists where you can unwind and indulge in luxurious beauty, skin, hair and body treatments; ‘wander’ leads you to a number of serene getaways in the region; ‘move’ lists some places where you can boost your energy levels or wind down; ‘create’ directs you to a number of creative workshops; ‘savour’ which leads you to delectable cafes and produce, and lastly, ‘discover’, which lists a number of cultural and entertainment delights.

Listing yoga studios, makeup artists, wellness studios, local cafes, retreats and blissful accommodation in Melbourne and regional Victoria, Retreat Society aims to encourage people to feel they can retreat, relax and recharge. It’s about giving ourselves permission to take some ‘me time’, a thinking which traditionally would evoke feelings of guilt.

“The core purpose around taking time out from the daily grind and looking after your health and wellbeing is one that’s important for every human – male or female – and I think there’s real value to be found across all the directory categories to suit many different types of people.”

While the recent global events have indeed highlighted the urgent need to prioritise our health, it’s also become crucial to be supporting our local small businesses who continue to face an uncertain future. Research in April revealed 40% of Australian small businesses experienced a 50% or more decline in revenue in the previous 1-2 months, and given that Melbourne is now in the midst of another lockdown, these figures are even more concerning.

Retreat Society aims to ease some of the burden by supporting both our wellbeing and our small businesses at the same time.

“I’m passionate about the power of being kind to ourselves, and I believe so many delightful small businesses play an important role in helping us enjoy much-needed time out,” Emma reveals.

“Investing in self-care isn’t indulgent; it’s self-preservation – and if we can support local at the same time then the benefits are two-fold.

“I truly believe that the more you give to yourself, the more you can give to those around you too.”

So, if you want to retreat, relax and recharge – whether it be at a yoga studio, beauty salon, art gallery, creative workshop, nourishing cafe, cosy bookstore or weekend getaway – Retreat Society is the one-stop shop to point you in the right direction. And for those in lockdown 2.0, it’s the inspiration needed to create your very own self-care bucket list to tackle when restrictions lift.

You can visit Retreat Society here.

Photo by Molly Couch