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Wellness Retreats in Wisconsin – What You Need to Know

a sign pointing in the directions of wellness and stress

Do Wellness Retreats Actually Work?

By Sam Van Nuys, DTTAC lifestyle coach at Network Health
8/11/2023

Whether it’s the bluffs dotting the state’s southwest driftless area or the serene waters off the coast of Door County, Wisconsin abounds with picturesque vacation spots that offer rest and relaxation. It’s no wonder, then, that Wisconsin is also a prime location for retreats touted as sources for physical, mental and spiritual wellness.

But do these wellness retreats actually work? That depends. Some retreats set achievable expectations regarding their impact on health and well-being while others might exaggerate their benefits. In either case, it’s important to understand the difference between wellness versus well-being. These two terms are not interchangeable, and you may come across them both as you search for available retreats.

Difference Between Wellness vs Well-being

Wellness refers to one’s overall physical health. It also refers to the lifestyle that impacts your overall physical health, such as diet and exercise.

Well-being is far less specific to physical health than wellness is. Well-being refers to overall happiness and can encompass a wide array of life experiences such as satisfaction with your job, relationships, religious beliefs or finances Since wellness and well-being have different focuses, the first thing you should look for when choosing a retreat is whether it claims to be a wellness retreat or a well-being retreat.

What Can Wellness Retreats Do for You?

Unfortunately, many retreats inadvertently claim to be wellness retreats despite being more aptly described as well-being retreats. Embracing well-being is perfectly fine. Taking the time to unwind and enhance your overall life satisfaction can significantly benefit your emotional and mental state. Reducing stress can even have health impacts that include better sleep, a lower risk of high blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease.

[Read more: How to Get a Great Sleep Every Night]

Regardless of how well-intentioned a retreat may be or how effective it is at reducing stress, many of these retreats offer only short-term relief for long-term problems. For example, one may attend a week-long retreat and notice that they sleep much better in the low-stress environment. After the retreat, however, their sleep troubles are likely to return if no changes are made from a medical or lifestyle perspective that would impact their long-term health.

That said, these retreats may affect your long-term wellness by introducing new ways to eat healthy and exercise. A retreat might introduce you to yoga or healthy cooking. Even spa retreats could introduce effective ways for you to relax and rid yourself of stress. The retreat alone won’t be enough for any long-term impact, but if you take what you’ve learned and apply it to your life outside the retreat, you may feel significant improvements.

What You Shouldn’t Expect Wellness Retreats To Do for You

While many wellness retreats are forthright about their advantages, some might make claims that are not medically accurate. Therefore, it’s important to watch out for the following red flags when looking to book a wellness retreat visit.

  • Claims to cure chronic illnesses
  • Performs medical treatments without medically qualified staff
  • Implements dietary restrictions without oversight by a licensed dietician or physician
  • Appears dismissive of modern science
  • Offers “miracle” treatments not found in health care facilities
  • Attempts to exploit mental health or physical vulnerabilities
  • Relies on charisma rather than clinical expertise of trained medical professionals to substantiate claims

Are Wellness Retreats Covered by Health Insurance?

While these retreats can offer health benefits when done properly and paired with sustained wellness changes, it’s important to recognize that they might not be covered by your health plan. Of course, coverage will vary based on your specific plan.

Some doctor-recommended programs, such as substance abuse programs, are focused on long-term lifestyle changes and may be covered by some health insurance plans. Wellness retreats are usually short-term and outside of a doctor-recommended treatment, so you shouldn’t always assume that your health plan will cover it. We recommend that you discuss coverage with your Wisconsin health insurance provider beforehand.

[Read more: Tips for Traveling With Medication]

With so many different types and commonly accepted definitions of wellness retreats, it can get confusing and difficult to set reasonable expectations for their impact on your long-term health. Hopefully, the information in this article helps you better understand these types of retreats. Before booking, consider talking to your personal doctor about any wellness retreats you are considering and then your health insurance plan to understand what may be covered.

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