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Personal retreat day spa ideas for a day at the beach

Updated on July 17, 2014

Ideas for beach retreat personal spa days for renewal and rejuvenation

Get thee to an island! -- That's my answer to stress, anxiety and being completely overwhelmed. How about you?

One of the best R&R recipes is to have a simple, easy day at the beach. Not only is it an opportunity to reset my calcified thinking and reinvigorate my aching body but it gives my brain a good workout, too. I'll share my approach and also offer some ways to bring the beach to you.

Know thyself

Have you ever given a lot of thought to what type of sensory stimuli relaxes you? Some folks are mountain people, they crave that sense of being connected to the earth amid forests, land, and height. Others are reinvigorated when they enter into the urban landscape and engage in whatever a city and its people have to offer. Then there are the more extreme among us who find relaxation running marathons, skimming ski slopes, or pedaling their way to nirvana. Me? I'm a water baby.

The healing magic of water

I love the water in all its magical forms. The excitement and electricity of a good storm, the streaming lullaby of a nearby creek, or the still tranquility of a pond immediately moves me into a state of relaxation. The best is when I'm totally surrounded by water. Therefore, I am an island lover.

Island Fever

I've been known to catch Island Fever more than once in my life. The year I turned fifty I made a sudden mad hop down to Honduras for a week at Roatan. Now that was a trip! Luckily I live about a half hour from Galveston Island, so when things get too much for me--and I'm able--I hop in the car and head for the water.

When is it time for a day at the beach?

Well, I'd say almost anytime. I've gone to the beach to meet the sun coming up and to watch the sun going down. I've enjoyed the water at night and during the day, in the spring and summer as well as fall and winter. Each has its own delights. Whenever I go, I return refreshed and relaxed. For the majority of these trips I travel solo.

I've had a lifelong habit of making my birthday a personal retreat and the landscape often changes but you can bet there's water nearby. Even when I spent a decade of trips going to Sedona, Arizona I made sure my cabin faced Oak Creek Canyon Creek so I could be surrounded by the sound and laughter of the creek night and day. Today I'm sharing how I spend my time when I go on my stress-reducing getaways to Galveston Island.

  • Image credits: Photos of Feet at the Beach and of Galveston Island below copyright 2010 Vikk Simmons

A day spent on Galveston Island's beach with lace waves and rocks.
A day spent on Galveston Island's beach with lace waves and rocks.

What is it about the beach?

The benefits of being by the sea

Many are lured by the sea. For me it's all about the movement, the coming and going of the tide, the in and out of the waves. It's almost hypnotic as my anxiety and stress slip away and i slide down into a more peaceful, meditative state. I love watching the sea lace that rides on top of the waves.

Experiencing the outdoors

Being outside is another benefit. For people like me who are housebound, having a day out of the house is a wonderful change of pace. Staring at a computer tires the eyes and life is already image-laden that a trip outdoors is a great way to stimulate all the senses.

Opening up the senses

In many ways a day at the beach is a sensory explosion. All your senses come into play. Breathing in the salt air triggers both taste and smell. Walking barefoot on the sand is strongly tactile. Listening to the seagulls or the lapping sounds of waves stimulates hearing, and, of course, looking out over the ocean toward the horizon brings strong visuals.

At the same time that all the senses are being stimulated and those often ignored ignited, the mind is easing and muscles are loosening. All that unexpected interplay brings about a new state of being.

Image credit

Have you gone solo to the beach?

Have you ever given yourself a day at the beach as a personal retreat?

Which way to the beach? - Vintage signs make great beach reminders

Beach Tin Sign 16 x 13in
Beach Tin Sign 16 x 13in
Beach reminders such as this vintage sign are a great way to tease our memories as we go about our daily lives. Even if it's a momentary flicker, that can be enough to soothe our escalating tension--and it just might remind you to schedule a retreat ASAP.
 

Making waves in Galveston - Listen to the waves and imagine you're at the beach

Experience Galveston beach

Want to experience a little bit of my world? This video captures the sound and the images that greet those who travel to be by the sea in Galveston, Texas. In fact, you can listen up to an entire hour and let that stress melt away right now>. Enjoy.

Pack your beach bag

Pack your beach bag
Pack your beach bag

Things to take to the beach - Create a quick beach packing list

I have a bit of a drive before I reach the water so I always make sure I load the car with any and all things I might want. (I always overdo it and generally need far less but....) Even if you don't need a lot or plan to head to the beach immediately upon reading this page, there are a couple of things you might want to take along.

  1. Suntan oil - Even if it's winter in many places you can still get too much sun so grab some along the way.
  2. Beach towel - Always comes in handy even if you don't plan to sit on the sand. Accidents happen and big waves come along.
  3. Water - Grab a few bottles if you have them at home or pick them up on the way.
  4. Snacks - It's good to pack a few snacks that way you won't feel pressed to gather up your stuff and leave the idyllic beach scene before you're ready.
  5. Camera - There's something relaxing when it comes to taking pictures and if you have a video you can record those moments and thoughts as they occur.
  6. Beach read - Lounging on the beach is a good time to do a little light reading.
  7. iPod - If you're musically inclined, you'll want your iPod or phone loaded with your favorite relaxing music.

Classic beach music will get you in the mood

The Beach Boys: Live In Concert
The Beach Boys: Live In Concert
Yes, for me it's that iconic trip down memory land when the Beach Boys do their thing, but honestly, who better to listen to on the way down to the beach?
 

My view from the rocks

Galveston View from the Rocks Vikk Simmons 2010 copyright
Galveston View from the Rocks Vikk Simmons 2010 copyright

A perch off of the Galveston Seawall - Find your perfect spot at the beach

I'm fairly territorial by nature and pretty influenced by my immediate surroundings, so I'm not the type to just plop anywhere. Nope. I'm worse than my dogs when it comes to picking out the perfect spot.

Location is everything

When I'm flying solo at the beach, I'm in search of a vantage point that connects me with the sand, the water, and the sky. One reason I like the sea wall area in Galveston is because there are any number of places where I can go to find the perfect perch to take in the view and breathe in the sea air.

  1. I look for the solitary place where I can sit quietly and take everything in.
  2. I scout for the perfect rock that provides the vantage point I want that day. It's a gut thing.
  3. I seek the water so I want to be as I can.

Don't like sand on your clothes or between your toes? - Try the Sand-Off Mitt Beach Towel

As much as I love the beach, sand can become an issue. Yes, I like the feel of sand between my toes when I'm walking the water's edge but I can't say I'm as fond of sand clinging to my clothes and body. It's nice to know someone's thought of that and come up with a helping hand.

Sand-Off! Powder-Infused Mitt Beach Towel for All-natural Sand Removal - Blue - 1 Pack
Sand-Off! Powder-Infused Mitt Beach Towel for All-natural Sand Removal - Blue - 1 Pack
You can easily wipe that sand off with this plush terry cloth mitt. Use it for the sandbox, too. (Yes, it comes in pink, too.) As much as we love surf and sand, let's face it there are times when a little sand is too much sand. It's great that someone's come up with a helping hand.
 

Fellow travelers at the beach

Birds are fellow travelers at Galveston beach (copyright 2010 Vikk Simmons)
Birds are fellow travelers at Galveston beach (copyright 2010 Vikk Simmons)
Seagull landing
Seagull landing

Who are your beach companions?

Do you like to fly solo?

Since I prefer to fly solo when I go to the beach for a personal retreat, you won't find me hanging with my BFF. I do enjoy the glide and swoop of seagulls and the teetering and bobbing of sandpipers.

The one-legged sandpiper

Last time I was at the beach I spent some time watching a one-legged sandpiper making his way through the wet sand and the recurring waves. He had a much bigger bobble as he hopped along.

The saga of Johnathon Livingston Seagull continues

I don't know what it is about seagulls but they do hold a certain fascination and I have to watch them as they swoop and soar around me. Perhaps its heightened by the fact that I came of age during the Johnathon Livingston Seagull era. Loved the book and could listen to the Neil Diamond music for hours.

Image credit

Johnathan Livingston Seagull is alive and well - Great beach companions (book and music)

The Beach Boys surfing music may drive me to the beach but it's the music of Johnathon Livingston Seagull that takes me home.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Fletcher is still trying to get through brick walls in my head and I can't help but remember his travails whenever I am having problems. I loved this book and it's only 112 pages. Quick but deep book and perfect for a beach retreat.
 
Jonathan Livingston Seagull: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Jonathan Livingston Seagull: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Neil Diamond outdid himself when he created this musical score. It's absolutely beautiful. I can listen to this music for hours. For me it's a classic.
 
Design Toscano Dockside Seagull Statue
Design Toscano Dockside Seagull Statue
Keep Jonathon nearby as a reminder of your day at the beach or a state of mind.
 

A solitary sandpiper stands by the waves

This isn't my sandpiper and it's not one-legged but its actions are similar.

Gentoo Penguin walking along the beach
Gentoo Penguin walking along the beach

Take a walk along the beach

Beach activities for a retreat

While it's always nice to stop and sit and be still, going for a walk along the beach is a great activity and stress reducer. If you're someone like me who sits in front of a computer all day, physical exercise doesn't happen much, so a day at the beach coupled with the opportunity for a walk along the water is pure bliss. And, of course, you never know who you might see.

Image credit

Walking on the sand by the Seawall in Galveston

A walk along Galveston beach copyright 2010 Vikk Simmons
A walk along Galveston beach copyright 2010 Vikk Simmons

Listen to the hypnotic sound of waves - Create your day at the beach experience now

If you love to watch the ebb and flow of the water as it laps against the sand, this video is for you.

Things to do at the beach on a personal retreat day

There are many ways to enjoy a day at the beach when you're flying solo and looking for a little rest and relaxation. Here are a few I've done but the best outing consists of doing things that are close to your heart and feed your soul.

  1. Take a book to the beach and read. This is a time-honored favorite as evidenced by the bazillion "beach reading lists" that are published come summertime.
  2. Give yourself a vision rest: Grab the suntan oil and the big beach blanket and spend some time--but not too much--lying on the beach with your eyes closed and take in the sounds of the world around you.
  3. Be spontaneous and have lunch at a restaurant that wouldn't normally try like maybe Thai or Greek. Don't be in a rush. Slow down and enjoy the food and the experience.
  4. Walk the boardwalk, or in my case the seawall, and watch as your muscles relax and the tension eases out of your body. Be sure you take the appropriate shoes.
  5. Plan a picnic for one so you don't have to leave the beach. This way you can soak up the environment to the max and eat while listening to the waves and the accompanying sounds.

Reading at the beach - How one woman enjoys the beach

With the electronics available today, anyone can make a video of how they spend their time. Reading at the beach is a favored way of relaxing for many people. In this video the book mentioned is Tribes by Seth Godin.

Take a good book to the beach

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Squidoo's own favorite son, Seth Godin, explains the idea of tribes. Godin is a creative genius and always makes you think. Provocative and fun, what more could you want in a book to read at the beach? Yes, and short.
 

Take in the view and ride the waves on a little smooth jazz - Music, waves, and Galveston - a quick beach retreat

It doesn't always have to be hot and sunny to enjoy a day at the beach and to reap the rewards. If waves accompanied by soft jazz is your idea of a stress-free moment, you'll enjoy this.

At the Beach, a 1901 print by Charles Dana Gibson.
At the Beach, a 1901 print by Charles Dana Gibson.

What if you can't get to the beach?

Alternative ways to experience a personal beach retreat

Okay, I know many people, a huge chunk in fact, can't get to the beach unless they live along the coast. So what do you do if you don't have a beach option?

Recreate the beach retreat idea

I say, head for the nearest water. For me, another place I've gone for a personal retreat is to the San Antonio Riverwalk. The city has done a fantastic job of creating an island retreat in this Texan town by creating the riverwalk experience.

I spent a day in the riverwalk walking along the water, taking photos, and opening up to the different experience. That, in itself, is relaxing and refreshing.

Image credit

San Antonio Riverwalk Umbrellascape

Umbrellascape along San Antonio Riverwalk - copyright 2013 Vikk Simmons
Umbrellascape along San Antonio Riverwalk - copyright 2013 Vikk Simmons
Beach hut on Felixstowe beach
Beach hut on Felixstowe beach

The DIY Beach Retreat

Build your own beach hut where you are

Sometimes you simply can't get out of the house or carve out time for a trip to the beach . . . or anywhere else for that matter. Then what do you do?

Create an in-house beach retreat

Well, if you've made it this far you've found some hints along the way. Through the video and music, I've tried to recreate some of the major aspects of the experience for you. Of course, I can't take you outside--but you can do that if you're reading this on a tablet or other portable device.

Take a cue from the home day spa efforts and apply that to creating a day at the beach.Today you can download the sound of waves to lull you into that relaxed state. You can watch videos to add the visual aspect to the sound of the waves. You can even add music.

Do whatever helps you relax. If lighting candles does that for you, go for it. (They have ocean-scented ones now.) Slip into a hot tub, turn on the music and close your eyes. Imagine yourself at the beach, walking in the sand, watching the seagulls glide by and feel yourself getting more and more relaxed.

No hot tub? Lie in bed, plop into that recliner, hit the couch or the floor. Use your imagination to fly to the coast and soar above the waves. It won't be long before all that stress will be gone, gone, gone.

Image credit

Great beach read

A Day at the Beach: How Absolutely Anyone Can Successfully Build Sand Castles and Build Even Better Beach Memories
A Day at the Beach: How Absolutely Anyone Can Successfully Build Sand Castles and Build Even Better Beach Memories
The subtitle says it all: How Absolutely Anyone Can Successfully Build Sand Castles and Build Even Better Beach Memories
 

Music to live by - David Lanz, a Grammy nominated composer

I've been listening to David Lanz since he first came on the music scene many years ago. His albums are among my favorites and Cristofori's Dreams is, without a doubt, my all-time favorite. I've written many pages while listening to him play.

Image Credits.All Galveston Island photographs in this article are copyright 2010 Vikk Simmons with all rights reserved.

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