I just got back from a vacation that changed my soul.

I know, I know, the word “vacation” evokes piña coladas, pools, trashy magazines, and indulgent dinners, not life-altering revelations. But instead of escaping for a week, only to come back to the same hang ups and issues, why not use a week off to dig into your emotional and psychological depths to help create a more fulfilling life the other fifty-one weeks of the year?

My spiritually cleansing vacation meant visiting the small town of Abadiania, Brazil, first in 2012 and again last month. Here I met with John of God, a world-renowned healer. I came to him for guidance on the next step in my process of healing from an abusive childhood, food and alcohol addictions, and painfully aggressive self-loathing. While I have come a long way—I teach body image courses and no longer turn to substances for comfort—I still strive for balance and will always look for opportunities to go deeper into my spiritual practice.

What I found was joy, love, and release. I opened myself to him and received a message of self-love that transformed me. His words resonate with me every day and have shown me new ways to constantly revel in life’s beauty and appreciate myself. It certainly has made a more lasting souvenir than a tan or t-shirt.

You don’t have to fly across the world to invest in a transformative vacation.

You can take a Saturday to hike through the fall woods or attend a short meditation retreat. Even a luxurious bath accompanied by journaling can be a self-love vacation.

When planning your next weekend getaway, full-blown vacation, or even just a “lazy” afternoon, ask yourself if it fulfills these criteria for self-love:

  • Self-love means maintaining a certain quality of diet, recognizing that our bodies need balanced, wholesome foods to nourish and flourish.
  • Self-love means moving our bodies in a way that is steady and powerful but not frenetic and painful.
  • Self-love means taking time off of work to disconnect from being plugged in.
  • Self-love means taking time off to contemplate your existence and go into the recesses of your own mind.
  • Self-love means taking your attention from your chattering inner monologue and directing it towards your own best interests in the bigger picture.
  • Self-love means being generous with yourself and securing space around yourself every day so that you can thrive emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
  • Self-love means engaging in activities that lower your stress, such as mindfulness training, breathe work, yoga, massage, hot baths, soothing music, and reading inspirational books.

If you choose a destination and/or activity that really speaks to these points, you’ll take a vacation that will bring you back more rested, rejuvenated, healed, and enlightened than any “escape” ever could. And your body and mind will thank you for it every day thereafter.

Which one of these self-love practices speaks to you? I would love to hear from you on how you make mini vacations as part of your daily living.

Weight Release & Body Image Coach, Laura Fenamore, is on a mission to guide women around the world to love what they see in the mirror—one pinky at a time—so they can unlock the secrets to a healthy weight and start loving their lives as soon as possible. Having overcome her own battle with addiction, obesity, and eating disorders, Laura released over one hundred pounds twenty-four years ago, beginning her on a journey to guide other women to live more joyous, balanced lives. Laura believes that self-love and self-care is where the transformation begins. Learn more about Laura at OnePinky.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

*Image courtesy of Florin Gorgan.