Gwinganna: How I found my calm again at this health retreat


The last few weeks I have been suffering from mild anxiety.


Truth is – it is quite a strange emotion for me to feel these days. I can’t even recall the last time I felt ‘anxious’ (or perhaps I just haven’t been aware of it because I have been so busy).


I write this because I know so many of you can relate. That pit in your stomach feeling when you wake up– the worst, right?!


Even worse, when you can’t quite pin point WHY you are feeling anxious. Having an actual reason – for some reason makes you feel 5% better about it.


I was for sure a very anxious child and teenager but thankfully grew out of it. I have been in therapy for many years now to obtain the tools I need to cope with anxious/stressful times.


For the last few years I have (so thankfully) felt very calm, focused and optimistic about life. I feel very in control of my thoughts and emotions.


If you know me, you know I take good care of myself. I practice yoga 2-3x/week. I eat very well. I take work breaks. I have strict social media boundaries. I listen to my body. I am kind to myself. Food has zero control over my thoughts these days. I am in a very healthy and happy relationship. I have 99% healed my relationship with food and my body. My energy is amazing. I am happy.


But… I also have been feeling anxious.


So last weekend I packed my bags last minute and took myself to the amazing Gwinganna Health and Lifestyle Retreat for the weekend to try and figure out the cause of this anxiety and to disconnect from the chaos of everyday life.


This gorgeous health retreat nestled in the hinterland just outside of the Gold Coast. A quick 1-hour flight from Sydney.


What drew me to this retreat?


The no reception and no phone/computer rule (thank you universe!!!), no coffee machines allowed (ouch, but I need this) and the ‘dreamtime’ afternoon you experience each afternoon from 2pm-7pm where all you are allowed to do is sleep, read, meditate, be in the steam room or have a massage… Ummm 5 hours of rest? Are you kidding? Yes… Please!


This appealed to me more than I can express in words.


You too?


So off I went and experienced 2 magical days!


If you need to find your inner calm and ease everyday anxiety – this is the place!


Their program is literally tailored at helping you disconnect from the stress of the outside world and implement tools and techniques that can help you better manage stress and anxiety – just what I needed. My entire nervous system just dropped!


What a day looks like at Gwinganna


6am: Qi Gong with the sunrise – Qi Gong is kind of like Tai Chi. Incredibly healing and calming. 6am sounds really scary and early, I know. But when you see how much you get to rest during the day, you don’t mind this early wakeup call. You can also kindly decline being woken up, don’t worry. It is truly truly an incredible start to the day.




6:45am: Gentle walk in nature or a moderate/intense walk in the bush. I chose the gentle walk in nature.


8am: Delicious wholesome breakfast – gluten free, sugar free, dairy free and 100% organic. I loved their homemade gluten free bread with a poached egg and sautéed greens – JSHealth style! You also enjoy fruit and a choice of a gluten free warm oatmeal to start with.


9am: You get to experience 2 hours of amazing holistic movement. You get the choice between doing YIN or YANG movement (gentle or strong exercise). If you know me and my philosophy on exercise, I am all about moderate forms of movement – moving your body in ways that you love and focusing on calming your nervous system. So each morning I chose the Yin movement which was a NIA dance class, yoga or stretch – all amazing.


11am: Morning tea. The best tahini balls you may ever eat, ever. Followed by a nutrition/health talk.


12pm: Relaxation class with blankets and cushions before lunch. Could this day get any better? I asked myself…


1pm: Delicious organic lunch. The turmeric chicken with quinoa and sautéed veggies was a highlight for me. Yum.




2pm-7pm: DREAMTIME – my favourite part of the day. 5 hours of rest. All you can do is read in nature, sleep on your day bed, have a massage in the award winning spa or meditate somewhere pretty. I mean, this is just too good to be true. You can’t even comprehend how calm, rested and at ease you feel after these 5 hours.  And remember, you have no phone/computer anywhere near you!


This really got me thinking about how much anxiety my phone and computer cause in my everyday life.

Setting boundaries with social media and technology is absolutely essential to live a healthy life. I am so sure of this.

My business now runs on social media but since implementing by 6-7pm switch off time – my sleep and stress levels have dramatically improved.


Gwinganna is a perfect place to experience how good it feels to disconnect from technology and to start to implement boundaries.




7pm: Delicious organic dinner. Absolutely loved the quinoa and lentil moussaka. You have a choice of vegetarian based dinner or meat based. Your meals are always accompanied with amazing salads or sautéed/steamed veggies.


8pm: Bed/reading time. Heavenly. Your body drifts away with absolute ease with the sounds of nature calming every part of your mind/body.



I have come home calm, rested and identified the causes of my anxiety. I have implemented great lifestyle adjustments that will help keep my mind/body steady and balanced.



The food:

Delicious. All organic. All gluten free too. The food is designed to help your body gently detoxify during your time there. You can notify the staff of any dietary requirements/food intolerances which they so kindly cater to. The food is literally picked from their gardens for each meal – farm to table style. Quite amazing.




The accommodation:

Beautifully done. Clean and comfortable. I stayed in the Orchard room.


The Spa:

 The best in Australia, The Hawaiian body work treatment and Lomi Lomi massages are out of this world. Highly recommend. Each therapist has had years and years of experience – you can tell. I spent very afternoon in the steam room too – so cleansing and delicious.




So glad I got to enjoy this deliciously invigorating retreat.


This is a place to put on the bucket list! Find out more here!





Swisse Skincare




Gaia Retreat & Spa


The Healthy Life


JSHealth Vegan Meal Plan


JSHealth Travel Plan




14 Day Slim Down Plan - 2 weeks to a leaner you!


The JSHealth Shopping List - Stock up on these foods for a healthier household


Nutrition 101 - A step by step nutrition guide to optimal health


Emotional Eating Guide - Learn how to rebuild your relationship with food and your body


The Clean Life - An Expert Guide To Health From The Inside Out


Restart Plan - Cleanse your system in 2 - 4 weeks & reveal a slimmer, healthier you


JSHealth Partners


Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My  copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time.  My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.

With kindest regards Samantha

I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.

When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.

I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.


Hey Jessica!
I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again

- Jacinta

I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!


Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.

– Sophie

Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!


I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).

– Helene

I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud

Michelle Curtis

My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.