How to Plan a Think Week at Habitat

At BESIDE, we believe that it's possible to unlock parts of ourselves simply by spending time in nature. The attentive calm that comes over us when we're in the forest creates an opening for different facets of our personalities to emerge: our wisdom, our playfulness, and perhaps most of all, our creativity.

A cabin getaway is a potent way to replenish the mind and body, but those effects aren't limited to rest and relaxation. Retreating to a chalet in the woods is also an excellent strategy for nourishing our personal and professional ambitions.

We all know the feeling of being trapped in the short-term perspective. We rush to meet the demands of the day or week, while our bigger plans and projects fall by the wayside. The goals we tend to neglect are often the very ones that would feel most meaningful.

So why do we de-prioritize the important stuff? It's not because we're incapable or lazy. The activities that offer the greatest rewards often require a different headspace than we're accustomed to cultivating in our day-to-day.

Everyone deserves the time and space to think deeply and creatively. We NEED it. But time and space aren't easy to come by. So you may have to fight. Or, at least, make a strong argument on their behalf.

Take a minute to make a list of goals you'd be most proud of accomplishing — the sort of things that would carry you farthest toward achieving your biggest dreams and ambitions — but can never get around to. How many of them could be realized in a solid week of focused attention and concerted effort?

Would it be worth it?

Only you can answer that question. But we're guessing that you could say yes to at least a few things on your list.

We want you to honour your unique form of genius, so we created a program to help you unleash it, by embarking on a BESIDE-style "Think Week" at one of our cabins. Go deeper into the theory and practice of designing a personal creative retreat with our guide, “How to Give Yourself Time to Think .”

Here are seven key elements that form the foundation for a Think Week at BESIDE.

Move your body

One of the key aims of a Think Week is to gain perspective and to let your mind wander so you can better see the interconnections between ideas. A deep stretch increases your serotonin levels, which in turn reduces stress and builds confidence in your own creative strengths. Take advantage of our collaboration with the online training studio ACTE, with special programs to engage your body and mind.

Move on the land

“Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow," wrote Henry David Thoreau. A hike in the woods is its own reward, but walking in nature also offers profound benefits to our mental clarity and inventiveness. Research has shown that walking "boosts creative ideation in real time" and "opens up the free flow of ideas." Intersperse your reflective time in the cabin with a brisk walk on our beautiful trails. You'll be amazed at what you find — both on the land and within yourself.

Cook on the fire

A big part of innovative thinking is trusting your own intuition. It takes self-respect to think expansively. Preparing a meal over a fire, whether outdoors or on the wood-burning stove, is a powerful way of showing yourself some love and feeling nourished at every level. And when you're done, you can follow the flow of your thoughts as you stare into the flames.

Practice mindfulness

In Mindfulness for Creativity, Danny Penman explores three ways that mindfulness boosts creative problem-solving: 1) It activates divergent thinking; 2) it increases our attention; and 3) it fosters resilience in the face of setbacks. But you don't have to sit on a cushion to meditate. Find your own way, such as by doing a puzzle, free-writing in a journal, or sketching trees out the window.

Unwind in the sauna

In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport offers a compelling rule for doing complex work at a high level: be lazy. That is, we need periods of regular rest to recharge our mental batteries. Drawing on a multitude of scientific studies, Newport explains that when our unconscious minds are at rest, our unconscious thoughts can get busy finding innovation solutions for the problems that preoccupy us. In other words, downtime dramatically aids the generation of insights. For that, you can't do better than a good session in one of our saunas.

Deep reading

The person commonly crediting for inventing the practice of taking Think Weeks is Bill Gates. For decades, he's been going to a secret cabin the woods twice a year for one week at a time. There, he devotes himself to devouring books, articles, and reports, and compiling the ideas that he generates with the help of those materials. But you don't need to plow through a stack of books for a Think Week to be worthwhile. Reading just one important book, carefully and thoroughly, can make an enormous difference in your life. Believe us when we say: our cabins are heaven for reading.

Sleep early… and late

A good night's rest needs no argument, but did you know that a deep sleep helps you make connections between divergent ideas? That it aids with finding creative solutions to difficult problems? Or that it improves how you access and apply the information already stored in your brain? Lack of sleep, on the other hand, impairs focus and memory. The calm and seclusion of our cabins will have you waking up refreshed and excited for your day.

Ready to try a creative retreat at BESIDE Habitat?

Use the promo code THINKWEEK15 and receive 15% off your next week stay. Valid on weeknights only.


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