Dr Julia Sen: Time to Retreat?

Dr Julia Sen: Time to Retreat?

Dr Julia Sen, a Consultant Ophthalmic Plastic, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgeon, shares her insights from 30 years of medical practice and over 50 years of life experience monthly on DLUXE.

In this month’s post, Dr Julia Sen reflects on the vital role of self-care

Have you ever “retreated”? I’m not sure that retreat is actually a verb in this context but I’m going to go with it. I confess to having been a retreat virgin until very recently. I flirted with the idea for years but the prospect of old hippies and young hipsters droning on endlessly about their blocked chakras was enough to prevent me hitting the “Book Now” icon.

That was until a wellbeing retreat in Valencia, aimed at professional women over 40, landed in my inbox. And after a bit of um-ing and ah-ing, I finally succumbed.

The flight to Alicante was erm, interesting. Who could have predicted that I would have needed a pink cowboy hat and a phallus-shaped balloon to blend in with the general “high spirits” of the other passengers? Thankfully I arrived untouched by vomit and jettisoned the hens at arrivals, travelling the hour or so to MasQi, a beautiful old house converted into a wellness hotel, nestled in stunning National Park and I immediately felt more Zen.

So how was it?

Well, I was pleasantly surprised that my preconceptions turned out to be wrong. I will admit that chakras did get a few honourable mentions but the whole experience was so joyful and nurturing (I may have turned into an old hippy), that I’m officially a convert. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Having opened my clinic last year, in addition to my NHS commitments, work had overtaken my life and squeezed every last drop of my energy reserves. Loving what I do makes it so easy to slip insidiously into workaholism.

Needless to say, self-care went out of the window. I just didn’t think that I had time and didn’t prioritise it. I went up two dress sizes, slept poorly and became aware of my body starting to creak. It’s a cliché to say that our modern lives are so busy that we forget to take care of ourselves but it’s true. We actually need to put our self-care first; women generally take on the lion’s share of looking after ageing parents, children, grandchildren etc., often in addition to professional roles and we so often can find ourselves in midlife depleted in time, energy and (rather cruelly) hormones, sending us spiralling into sleep deprivation, anxiety and mood swings just when life is demanding the most from us.

We can lose ourselves in our endless to-do lists and it’s difficult to stop and take time out to get reacquainted with the essence of who we are and to nourish our inner selves. Difficult but so important! Feeling constantly overstretched and overwhelmed leaves us physically and mentally exhausted, irritable and susceptible to stress related illness. Taking time out to practice self-care helps us become better partners, parents, friends and employees and more authentic versions of ourselves.

My retreat featured daily yoga in Sonia’s fabulous glass studio dome overlooking the National Park; talks from experts about hormonal health, macrobiotic diet and supplements, breathwork and Gua Sha workshops, a guided visualisation, a morning hike, sound therapy and a blindfolded dining experience. The food, vegan, organic and macrobiotic was an extravaganza of colour, taste and texture and I have never eaten so much! Alcohol was available (in case you were wondering).

The icing on the cake (or hummus on the sourdough, if you will) were the fabulous women I shared this experience with: Maria (aka Enaiya), Naomi, Sally, Egbe and Tosan. We learned, laughed, walked and planked together and there were hugs and tears at the end as we said goodbye.

If you have been toying with the idea of a retreat- do it! It’s given me the kickstart I needed to focus on my self-care and in case you were wondering, I’m pleased to report that all of my chakras are now flowing freely.

Love & Oms, Julia x

Enaiya’s Wellbeing retreat was hosted at MasQi, Valencia, Spain.

For more information about wellbeing and the services offered by Dr Julia Sen Health & Wellness, go to www.drjuliasen.co.uk, email [email protected] or phone 09739 286850.

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