Rachel from DW reflects on lessons learned at the newly-launched 'Life Well: Reset Me' retreat at the Shandon Hotel & Spa.

Every person spends about two minutes brushing our teeth every morning and night. We wouldn’t leave the house without doing it, because we know that dental health is important.

But we often say that we don’t have time to look after our mental health. We know now that this is just as important as our physical health, so why do we put it aside?

Sunday 3rd March saw the launch of Live Well : Reset Me, the first of a new wellness retreat programme in Donegal.

The programme is a gentle guide to help people focus on self-care, mindfulness and positive thinking, facilitated by experienced trainer Christina Murray McEleney.

I escaped to the Shandon Hotel on a cool Sunday afternoon to experience the retreat with a great group of women from across Donegal and beyond.

Rachel McLaughlin at the Shandon Hotel for the first Live Well: Reset Me retreat

Live Well: Reset Me retreat participants on Marble Hill

The two-day retreat began with a few hours of talks, exercises and meditation that both relaxed and challenged the mind.

There was a lot of sharing, laughter and emotional moments throughout. You did not have to share if you did not want to, but Christina and her assistant Margaret Taggart had created a warm space where everyone felt safe to discuss their interpretations of the exercises.

Live Well: Reset Me – Facilitator Christina Murray-McEleney and Margaret McTaggart

What I liked was the practicality of the programme. It was not spiritual or too ambitious. Christina and Margaret acknowledge that everyone’s life is busy, but they taught us proven methods to try for a few moments each day to live well.

There was no better location than the Shandon to relax and learn about the art of appreciation and gratitude. From the room, we had stunning views of waves crashing on the rocks of Marble Hill. It was bliss!

Sunrise at the Shandon

Every day is a new page

Christina and Margaret equipped us with the tools we need to reset our mindset. Every morning is a new beginning, we learned, and a mix of gratitude, self-awareness and self-care are key to staying balanced during difficult times.

“In gratefulness, you can’t be unhappy,” said Margaret. She has been practicing self-care for many years, including a unique habit called ‘Morning Pages’. All you have to do is fill three pages with whatever comes to mind – your feelings, what you are grateful for, or what you are worried about. These private pages help people find clarity and clear their minds for the day.

Live Well: Reset Me Morning pages and positive affirmations

We were encouraged to take up the exercise as part of our reset routine. It was easy to begin the next morning, as we woke up early, sipped a coffee in our rooms and spilled thoughts onto pages as the sun rose over Sheephaven Bay.

Enjoying my morning coffee as part of the morning reset routine at the Shandon Hotel

Time out is time well spent

I saw the Live Well : Reset Me retreat as a gift – every participant was treating themselves to two days to focus on themselves and nourish their mind and bodies.

Plenty of treats were included – from our welcome reception to a wonderful fine-dining meal in Marbles Restaurant. We also got mini Thalgo skin treatments for our own pampering sessions at home.

Group dinner in Marbles Restaurant at the Shandon Hotel

One stand-out treat was our trip to Marble Hill beach on day two.

We walked down to the vast, empty, clean beach on Monday for a Mindfulness Exploration. Simply put, this hour was a chance to reconnect with nature, just as we did when we were young.

Marble Hill beach – all to ourselves

Mindfulness made easy

We were given a hands-on task to create beach art with a positive message from the programme. Working in teams, we carved words in the sand and picked up shells and other items.

Without knowing it, we were living in the moment, focusing on the task at hand and gaining positive energy from the beach.

Christina taught us how Blue Space (being by the sea) has proven scientific benefits for our health and wellbeing. We’re lucky in Donegal to have so many beautiful beaches to visit, so this is one self-care practice I’m definitely going to commit to more.

Live Well: Reset Me – Margaret McTaggart and Christina Murray-McEleney

Reset our mindset

At the end, we revealed what we had gained from the programme. It soon emerged that participants were taking away many kind lessons for themselves. These included an appreciation of what we have, acknowledging that we deserve guilt-free me-time, self-love and more.

The retreat ended with 90 minutes in the Shandon Spa thermal suite. After detoxing in the sauna, chilling in the hottub and relaxing with stunning natural views, everyone left well-rested and refreshed, ready to take on the world with new steps to wellness.

I loved every part of this break away at the Shandon, and next time I would consider doing a digital detox and locking my phone away too. The programme was so well-organised for learning and relaxing free time – I just wish it was longer!

If you’re interested in finding out more about the next Live Well : Reset Me events, make sure to follow the Facebook page : www.facebook.com/livewellresetme

Note: I was invited to experience this retreat as a guest, but all opinions are my own.