7 Tips for Your Post-Retreat Week

You are likely planning to get back into daily life after your Velvet Ashes Retreat fully renewed, with that post-retreat afterglow.  If this happens for you, praise Jesus and enjoy every bit of that afterglow.

If, however, you find yourself struggling after your Retreat, this post is for you. Post-retreat struggle can be very real. There are some spiritual and physical reasons for this. We don’t want to cast a shadow of doom. Rather, we want you to equip you with some helpful information to help you move through the post-retreat struggle.

First, remember that you’ve just had a significant spiritual experience. There is an enemy of your soul that wants to discourage and undermine that experience.

So what should you do?

Cling to the truth God gave you during your Retreat. Was there a specific word, phrase or verse that was especially meaningful for you? Write it down, put it where you can see it, and remind yourself of this throughout your day. If discouragement comes, try to identify what lies are trying to slip into your thinking and write out the truth you are clinging to.

Secondly, recognize there may be significant physical effects happening in your body. Have you been in the midst of a stressful season? Was your Retreat the first time in a long time that  you’ve fully allowed yourself to slow down and unwind? An interesting thing occurs hormonally when you do this.

You see, our bodies handle stress with the autonomic nervous system. Harvard Health Publishing tells us that the there are two parts to this system:

“The sympathetic nervous system functions like a gas pedal in a car. It triggers the fight-or-flight response, providing the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. The parasympathetic nervous system acts like a brake. It promotes the ‘rest and digest’ response that calms the body down after the danger has passed.”

But here’s what happens when you experience chronic stress. “A series of hormonal signals are sent to keep the sympathetic nervous system – the ‘gas pedal’ –pressed down.”

Your Retreat may have been a time to finally allow yourself to let off the gas pedal. If you just did a shorter Retreat, your body may not have had enough time to even get that hormonal change. If you did feel that unwinding, releasing shift, you may wonder why you’re not bouncing back with renewed energy.

Do you find yourself more weary and less motivated than you did before your Retreat? If so, it is likely because your body is experiencing a withdrawal of stress-produced adrenaline. And that’s a good thing. Your body needs to allow itself to shift into rest mode, to heal from being an engine that was revved too high for too long.

You probably only planned a day or two off for your Retreat. But if you find yourself struggling to jump back into your responsibilities, it’s likely because your body is telling you it needs more time to restore. You’ve been fighting your limits for too long. It’s time to embrace them.

So what does that mean? How do you do that?

Plan to be gentle with yourself. If you’re staring down the barrel of a very full week, see what you can say no to or shift around. And I don’t mean just make changes that are easy or convenient. If you had a medical procedure, you would be forced to slow down for recovery. Think of this in the same way. Your body physically needs to recover. Plan to go slower.

Block out times for naps or rest. If you push through and ignore what your body is telling you, you will rev your stress hormones back up again and continue living off of those. This will have damaging effects on your health and well-being.

Take deep breaths. Studies show that deep breaths activate the parasympathetic nervous system (the “brake” or resting system). Combine these deep breathes with focusing on the word or verse that you want God to press into your heart.

Exercise. I know, when you’re feeling physically weary and unmotivated, the last thing you want to do is exercise. But this is part of helping your body heal and restore a healthy hormone balance. You’ll feel better, promise. Try a simple brisk walk. Or do the Retreat’s kickboxing video or exercise videos from previous Retreats.

Connect with social support. It’s amazing how helpful and encouraging it can be to share with others. Join us for the Live Chat.

Sunday April 22 at 9pm Eastern Standard Time

Monday April 23 at 9am Eastern Standard Time (convert to your time zone)

(If you miss those times, you can watch the video within the Retreat site). Share with your Connection Group. Plan a coffee date or a Skype time with a friend this week. And share with us here in the comments.

Keep retreating. Remember in the closing video how we talked about that rhythm of work and rest? We are made to extend ourselves in service and then retreat into the restoration of God. How can this be a daily and weekly practice? If you’ve been living beyond your limits, what changes do you need to make for this rhythm to become a reality for you?

What ways of engaging Scripture did you find especially meaningful during the Retreat? Continue to practice those. Go back and watch any videos you didn’t get to. Re-watch the videos that were impactful for you. Stay and soak in the three Scripture passages. Access stays open until May 22, and all materials are downloadable.

Friends, we hope you enjoy a sweet afterglow this week. If this week feels like a struggle, know that you are not alone. We’re here to process with you, to pray for you. Share with us in the comments.

We want to hear more about your Retreat experience. And tell us, how are you feeling post-retreat? How is the “re-entry” into daily life going for you?

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

8 Comments

  1. Elizabeth April 23, 2018

    I love love love the first two songs in the worship set (Paschal troparion/there is no fear in your love). I keep going back to them. Please please please pass on my thanks to Eine Blume in person!

    Aanna’s Greer segment also prompted some really important discussion with my retreat partner. I hope you can thank her in person too 🙂

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 1, 2018

      I shared your words with Eine Blume and Aanna. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth. 🙂

      1. Elizabeth May 2, 2018

        Thanks! Looking forward to seeing you soon, too! I will send you a message with our dates 🙂

  2. Michele April 23, 2018

    I was surprised during the retreat to realize how genuinely peaceful I felt… Like it wasn’t work to quiet my soul as it often has been in the past. There wasn’t the same resistance to entering into rest. I had a full weekend away with a good friend who was doing the retreat for the first time. We both commented at the end that we were content, overflowing with gratitude at what the Lord had given us in the retreat itself and in the get-away- perfect weather, good food, amazing views… But we weren’t feeling like you sometimes do as something like this ends- that it wasn’t long enough.
    A full Monday later, I am again surprised to realize that I actually am refreshed, happy to be back in the stuff of Kathmandu life, hopeful about the Lord continuing the conversations He started with me during the retreat- genuinely rested and peaceful. It turns out it’s really worthwhile to adjust our rhythms to make sure we are getting the water and light that sustains us. I needed this retreat, but it was part of rhythms of rest and learning the last couple of years to live from that place, so the return to the regular schedule doesn’t feel like a shock to my system like it would have in the past. I just want to share this to encourage those who feel like it’s impossible to give up busy-crazy-always stressed. It takes some real adjustments, and even then there are frustrations and busier times and anxieties to deal with. But it turns out it’s worth re-arranging things to prioritize what we all want to be our priority and I feel like I’m actually beginning to taste the fruit of those adjustments.

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 1, 2018

      Yes! I love your hope-filled comment, Michele. I think we often feel resigned to a too-full life. Yet with time (and sometimes it takes longer than we want!) change can be made, sustainability can be created, cultivated. I am so glad you’re tasting the fruit of your changes. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Katie Rose April 24, 2018

    I’m rereading this post early on a Tuesday morning here in Nashville, TN. Jumping back into this week after the retreat has been very difficult for me. I didn’t sleep super well on the retreat, probably because of this sympathetic/parasympathetic anomaly. I moved back from India 9 or so months ago, and within weeks God called me into a new job, new city, new season that has been one of very high-stress. My dear friend who came up to do the retreat with me and I both remarked about how at rest we felt just sitting, interacting with the Word in new ways, and just being with the Lord. So, now, I’m back in the swing of a full-time job and can’t seem to sleep well, focus, etc. I’m not in a position where I can really take off and rest to try and let my system catch up with me. But I’m praying, reaching out on here for prayer, and just trying to “be gentle” with myself. IE–I know today I have to be at work until 6. Therefore, I’m going to intentionally take this morning to myself and try not to go into work until closer to 9. Even in just making that tiny decision, turning back to this post for encouragement, I can feel my breathing slow and my heart rest a little more. Thank you for this very insightful & practical post! 🙂

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 1, 2018

      I am celebrating those little decisions with you, Katie Rose! For me those little decisions looked like responding to comments a week late, haha. 🙂 Praying that those little decisions build upon each other, that you continue to be gentle with yourself from the intense seasons of transition you have experienced. So glad that your retreat was a restful time with the Lord for you. Praying you continue to find rest in Him.

  4. Lori May 3, 2018

    Is it possible to have the 7 Tips alone, in a printable version?

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