While so much of what I’m passionate about centers on nutrition and food-based nourishment, I was reminded this past weekend about something I learned in nutrition school – that there is another kind of nourishment, one that isn’t focused on what we eat.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I just returned from a women’s retreat and have committed to stop using “busyness” as an excuse to be disconnected and emotionally, mentally and spiritually malnourished.

One of the questions Tracey Meeks, this weekend’s speaker, asked several times during the retreat that stuck with me was this:

“What nourishes your soul?”

When’s the last time you asked yourself that question and really stopped to think about the answer? The food-based nourishment is great, but if it’s delivered to a soul that is malnourished, it will not be nearly as helpful, healing or restorative.

This “non-food nourishment” is so important in our lives…yet it’s often something we overlook and neglect.

During the Sunday morning session, as the weekend was coming to a close and I was reflecting on what I had learned, I thought about what made this retreat time so special, so restful, and so refreshing. I’m thinking next time I’m getting far out of the way, somewhere in England and take advantage of Holgates Holiday Parks, and once again really rest and refresh my self.

The conclusion I reached was this – I can take much of what I learned on the retreat with me and apply it to my life beyond an idyllic weekend away.

My roommates at the women's retreat, including my mom!

My roommates at the women’s retreat, including my mom!

Here are 10 lessons I learned from the retreat about how to nourish our restless, “too busy” souls:

1. Disconnect. No TV. No computers. Minimal, if any, cell phone time. It’s amazing how refreshing it is to take a break from technology.

When we disconnect from technology, we begin to connect to each other.

My dad recently wrote about this topic as it applies to the workplace, and I think he makes some great points worth reading. What can you do to disconnect?

2. Show authentic & focused attention. When we’re unencumbered by all of our gadgets, to do lists and schedules, we can sit down, give each other our undivided attention, looking into each other’s eyes, share our stories, trials and joys and listen. We feel heard when someone takes the time to truly listen to us and to give us his or her genuine attention. What changes can you make to be more authentically attentive?

3. Be vulnerable. So often, we put up walls that keep people away from truly knowing us. We keep ourselves safe by holding our fears, worries, and frustrations inside. When we are intentional about being vulnerable to people we trust, we create opportunities for growth and renewal. Each of us has an innate desire to feel known, heard and validated. What can you do to be vulnerable with the people in your life that you trust?

4. Have fun & laugh. We spent a lot of time laughing and having fun this weekend from doing Zumba and playing games to making jokes about ourselves and our funny tendencies (like the woman who packed 7 pairs of shoes for a day and a half retreat or the fact that there was a recycling bin in the bathroom…think about that one for a second). What is something that makes you laugh? Spend more time doing that thing.

5. Add in physical touch. Touch has always been known to have healing powers, but in this era of being over stimulated, hyper connected, and always “on,” we often miss out on the power of physical touch. Whether we were hugging a friend, putting our arms around each other in prayer, or rubbing someone’s back as encouragement or support, we were nourished by the gift of physical touch. How can you incorporate physical touch in to your life?

6. Be in community. There are many things about being a woman that are unique and worth celebrating. So often, we reject or abandon our uniquely feminine qualities and gifts that make being a woman so fun and fulfilling. I am going to be more intentional about creating these opportunities, whether it is having friends over for dinner, going on walks on the nearby trails, or grabbing tea on a Saturday morning. What can you do to be in community?

7. Listen to music. I’ve always loved to sing. My husband and I first connected over music and singing, and we are on the worship team at our church. Music is also an integral part of the retreat weekend, and we spend at least two hours singing and listening to music together. During our small group sessions, music came up several times, as several of us commented how the perfect song tends to come on the radio just when we need it. A couple of weeks ago, I was having a stressful week, and while I was driving to work (which gives me the opportunity to listen to 2 songs max), this song came on and really encouraged me. Music can help us unwind, relax, and recharge. What can you do to add music in to your day?

8. Spend time in nature. Over the course of the weekend, so many women mentioned how nourished they feel by being out in nature, in the wilderness. Something about us comes alive when we spend an afternoon hiking in the woods, take an evening walk and admire the changing colors of the trees, go for a run along a pier, soak in the warm rays of the sun during a lunch break, or play outside with kids. We spend so much of our time indoors that we often miss out on nature’s nourishment. What can you do to spend more time in nature?

9. Move. Whether it’s taking a Zumba class, trying an interval training session, or upping our heart rate and energy through a boot camp, the retreat weekend gives us lots of opportunities to move our bodies, something most of us don’t do enough. Some of us took advantage of the beautiful weather outside and went for a walk or run. Since many of us sit at work or at home for hours each day, taking time to move our bodies – something we were designed to do – is energizing, restorative and healing. What can you do to incorporate more movement into your day?

10. Rest & relax. This is the hardest thing for me to do. I feel like my mind is always “on.” Getting massages, snuggling with my husband, and soaking away my stress in a relaxing bath are a few ways I relax. One of the verses Tracey shared over the weekend that captured this idea of rest perfectly was from Mark 6:31: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

For me, time away from everything – being physically away from the demands and stresses of my every day life – helps me feel rested. What do you do and where do you go to nourish your soul and find rest?

In which of those areas do you feel adequately nourished? Undernourished?

Consider picking one area to focus on as you make strides to reconnect with people in your life and nourish your mind, body and soul.