Sustaining Ourselves: breaking free from burn-out

Sustaining ourselves through burn out - a Sharpham Trust retreat

Burn-out: "A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations" – Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson

Many of us have experienced tiredness, exhaustion and burn-out - especially those of us dedicated to a particular cause.

Sustaining Ourselves is a retreat where you can reflect and gain practical resources to help nourish you in your daily life and work.

This 4-night programme is for anyone driven by a strong sense of purpose to make the world a better place. You might be a social or environmental activist or campaigner, a care-giver or someone in the helping professions in the service of others. You might just be suffering from burn-out in whatever role you're in.

This retreat takes place in the very special setting of Grade 1-listed Sharpham House in South Devon, surrounded by tranquil gardens within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Sustaining Ourselves through the cycles of burn out - a retreat at Sharpham

The programme is for you if...

  • You need rest, replenishment, renewal and inspiration.
  • You've experienced or are becoming concerned about the early signs of burn-out.
  • You tend to drive yourself, resulting in regular feelings of stress, exhaustion, anxiety and overwhelm.
  • You want to increase your personal resilience and self-care in a safe and supportive setting.
  • You'd benefit from reflection and connecting to nature and your creativity, far away from the busy-ness of your day-to-day life and work.
  • You're interested in creatively enquiring into your relationship with your work in the world.
  • You want to explore how to remain active in your purpose to make the world a better place whilst overcoming cycles of burn-out.
  • You'd like to meet and learn from others on a similar journey.

During this 4-night programme you will...

  • Experience a unique synthesis of mindfulness, creative enquiry and nature-connection to enhance your personal resilience, taking on skills and tools to use in your life and work.
  • Explore a contribution to the world through self-care and self-compassion.Sustaining Ourselves - a Sharpham retreat
  • Learn or deepen your experience of how meditation and mindfulness can support your daily life and the balance between ‘being and doing’.
  • Learn to say NO with a good heart (and a clear conscience)
  • Recognise and become familiar with the early signs of burn-out and stress, exploring tools and strategies to avoid repeating the cycle.
  • Learn how acting from a place of urgency and desperation can be counter-productive to your effectiveness - and explore alternatives.
  • Share lovingly prepared home-cooked meals.
  • Have time for personal reflection and exploring your own work-rest balance.

    The course is for all adults aged 18 and above and all we ask is that you bring an open curiosity to exploring these issues.  Please note that this course might not be suitable if you are experiencing major depression or other serious and clinically diagnosed psychiatric illness. Click here for more information and for our booking process.

If you know of someone who would benefit from this opportunity you can also gift a place on the programme.

Accomodation and venue 

This retreat takes place in the beautiful and historic Grade 1-listed Sharpham House set in a Capability Brown-designed landscape with stunning views over the steeply-wooded River Dart. The retreat is full-board with delicious home-cooked vegetarian food.

Our food & your dietary needs

In line with sustainable practices across the Estate, our cooks produce seasonal, vegetarian food for our guests. We source food whenever possible from our kitchen garden and support local food suppliers. 

We are used to accommodating a wide range of dietary needs including wheat-free, diary-free, vegan. Please indicate on your booking form if you have a dietary need. The booking form is sent as a link once you have booked and paid for a retreat.


All of the hot water and heating in the House is produced by a state-of-the-art bio-mass woodchip boiler and we have 2 large photo-voltaic arrays on barn rooftops. Our gardens are managed organically and we only use bio-degradable cleaning products.


Sample Day Flow - Sustaining Ourselves

Note: Sustaining Ourselves is a rich fabric woven of spaciousness, structure and choice. With that in mind, all of the sessions are optional with the exception of the Morning Group Circle  which we ask everyone to attend. Our aim is that you come away with the insights, tools and mindfulness practices that most support you to find balance within yourself, with others and in the world.  The guiding principle of this retreat is choice: inviting you to experiment in real time with meeting your needs based on self-knowledge, awareness and self-care.

Day 1: Arrive between 4-5pm for welcoming talk and settling in

Typical day

7.15        wake-up bell (silence until 9.50)

8.00        Early Bird Moving Mindfulness  

8.30        Breakfast & tasks

9.50        Guided Meditation

10.30       Tea

10.45        Group Circle & Explore Theme   

12.30        Personal time

13.00        Lunch & tasks

14.15        Guided walk or personal time

15.45        Creative Enquiry

17.15        Tea  

17.30        Sitting Meditation

18.00        Dinner, tasks & personal time

20.00        Mindfulness - sitting practice, exploration & deep relaxation

21.00        Personal time

Final day: depart 12noon

Sharpham is a small slice of is a much-nneded spot of quietness and positive energy and I could not recommend it more.

The whole experience has left me with a sense of confidence in my ability to improve my well-being and find more balance

One of the most beautiful, nurturing and life-affirming opportunities that I have given myself and shared with others

The creativity of the format was inspiring, surprising, unformulaic and soulful

This was truly food for the soul, and much appreciated

This retreat takes place in the beautiful and historic Grade 1-listed Sharpham House set in a Capability Brown-designed landscape with stunning views over the steeply-wooded River Dart.

Click here for our How to Find Us page on this website.

Click here to view, print or download directions and a map to Sharpham House

Click here view and download walking/cycling directions to Sharpham House

Aerial shot of Sharpham House

If you have a medical condition that requires you to have an en-suite room, please contact our Programme Administrator on the number below as these rooms are limited and are bookable on a first-come first-served basis.

Just to let you know, we have poor mobile phone coverage – which we see as a virtue. While there is wi-fi in Sharpham House, we encourage you to disconnect from ‘the network’ so you can fully retreat when you’re here.

We are 3 miles from Totnes – famous for its Transition Town movement

We are in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


We take sustainability seriously.

All of the hot water and heating in the House is produced by a state-of-the-art biomass woodchip boiler and we have 2 large photo-voltaic solar panel arrays on barn rooftops.

Eco-gardens at Sharpham

Our gardens are managed organically and we only use bio-degradable cleaning products.

£385 Standard room 

£435 Premium room

£495 Heritage room


Book easily and securely online or by phoning 01803 732542

We a limited number of 50% bursaries available for those experiencing financial hardship (on a first come first served basis). Please contact the Programme Administrator in advance if you wish to apply. 

Please click here to see our booking and cancellations policy



Lynne Holmes

Lynne Holmes

Lynne is a Counsellor/Gestalt Psychotherapist, Mindfulness teacher, Supervisor and Assessor.

She has worked in the helping professions since 1976 and has seen the impact of burnout in colleagues and in herself. She initially trained as a nurse then Health Visitor while also training as a Gestalt Psychotherapist at Metanoia in London in the early 1990’s. It was at this time she became interested in Meditation and trained in Mindfulness in 2008 with Professor Mark Williams, then subsequently with Becca Crane and Professor Willem Kuyken. Lynne adheres to the UK guidelines for practicing teachers and therefore has a daily meditation practice and attends her own personal retreats as a way of nourishing herself.

Lynne is passionate about care for the carers and has worked as a Therapist with NHS staff  suffering from burn-out and stress. She co-ran a Mindfulness course within the hospital for staff suffering from stress. She believes that people need to connect with their innate “being” through meditation and the natural world to ignite their passionate heart. Walking barefoot in the wet grass is one of her Mindfulness delights!

Ollie Frame

Ollie Frame

Ollie Frame works as an integrative therapist, mindfulness teacher and retreat leader. Trained in Mindfulness-based approaches with the University of Exeter, he runs 8-week courses for the general public, for teachers and students in schools and colleges, and for various other client groups on behalf of Devon County Council. Having completed additional training in Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL), he is especially enthusiastic about self compassion, Metta meditation and other heart-based approaches within the world of mindfulness. Ollie also works as a Polarity therapist and an integrative counsellor, with a particular interest in Psychosynthesis, depth psychology and inner journeying.

Kanada Elizabeth Gorla - Sustaining Ourselves leader

Kanada Elizabeth Gorla - Sustaining Ourselves leader

Kanada is a leadership & transformational change coach, mentor and facilitator.

With more than 20 years' experience facilitating individuals and groups, Kanada is a long-time meditator and mindfulness practitioner. As a self-employed, single working mum, Kanada has walked the path toward ‘sustaining herself’ as a daily practice.

With her own social business Shine, she helps individuals, teams and organisations to flourish, building personal and collective resilience, well-being, self-leadership and engaged citizenship. Her work as an activist includes launching the Pachamama Alliance Be the Change Symposium in Canada and assisting in training the first group of Be the Change UK.

Kanada is a Senior Associate with Embercombe, a leadership centre where she co-leads The Journey, Catalyst and Speaking out; an Associate with Common Purpose American Express Leadership Academy for emerging leaders in the 3rd sector; and course leader on bi-annual residential programmes with cohorts from On Purpose and Executive On Purpose.

Lucy Chan

Lucy Chan

Lucy Chan is a General Practitioner and a group facilitator for mindfulness retreats held at the Barn Retreat Centre. She began meditating in her early 20s and has found that integrating mindfulness practices into her everyday life has been vital in helping her keep balance whilst working in busy health care settings. She has a particular interest in supporting and sustaining care-givers and currently mentors medical students and trainee GPs. She is a student of Kristen Neff and Chris Germer, co-founders of the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) programme, and is currently undergoing training to teach this 8-week course.


Sophy Banks

Sophy Banks

Sophy has an eclectic background in many aspects of creating healthy culture for individuals, groups and communities. She teaches at Schumacher college, runs workshops, and offers organisational development and conflict facilitation. Originally trained as an engineer, she has worked as computer systems designer and trainer, psychotherapist, and family constellations practitioner.

In 2005 she moved to Devon and helped to set up Transition Town Totnes (TTT), one of the foremost projects in a movement for positive visioning and action in communities, that has spread to over 40 countries and been tried in thousands of communities in some form. Sophy set up the Heart and Soul group of  TTT, and spent 10 years bringing insights from her many inner practices (including meditation, grief tending, mindfulness and nature connection) to the Transition Towns movement. During her time working for Transition she saw many highly skilled people reaching a place of burnout, and has been on that edge herself. It became a central part of her enquiry into how we can create life enhancing, positive culture together – and the reasons we sometimes don’t.  She sees that mindfulness is an essential tool for healthy systems, not only for individuals but also in groups and communities.

Sophy was a keen footballer in east London for many years – too old to slide tackle any more she enjoys growing as much food as she can, and still just about gets up the Devon hills on her bike.

Retreats & Events

How to book easily and securely:

Ring us or email if you've got any questions.

Please click here to see our booking and cancellations policy.

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