care workers

Report on a self-care camp for staff

L–abri Wilderness School
Date of camp: 3 “5 June
L–abri staff: Mbongi, Angela, Denis
Participants: YFC staff that responded to our advert
Report by: Angela Hough, L–abri coordinator


Day 1:

Themes of stories included:

Feeling overwhelmed by load of responsibility and multiple roles in which others depend on me.

“The burden of responsibility feels quite heavy, there are so many roles I fulfill, which include work, being the breadwinner, supporting difficult situations at home, that I feel quite overwhelmed.”

” I feel stressed out and confused about my responsibilities. I feel I am depended upon, and feel helpless. I have so many roles.”

–I am stressed by having too many roles for too long. I feel pulled in so many directions that I do not have time to be me. I have to put on a mask to deal with it all.”

Being at a crossroads and feeling overwhelmed by changes and big decisions:

“Things are not certain. Questions are taking over my life and I feel I have no control over these and feel powerless and anxious.”

–I like my space and have moved away from home, but this causes huge stress in the family.”

–I am at a crossroads. I feel worried and stressed and have many questions about the decisions I have to make.”

–I want to sort out my problem.”

Giving to people all the time and guilt when we have and others don–t:

” I always put other people first, so I don’t have time to be me. I give what I have but I still feel guilty for having when others don’t. There are so many people who are in trouble.”

–I feel like a growing person. I feel stressed when I am not challenged.”

Physical manifestations of stress: in headaches, shoulder tension, feeling tired and heavy.

Circle of connection and sharing and holding for each other made clear through a circle holding each others” shoulders with right hands and offering our left hands out.

Time to connect and rest.


Day 2:

First write on piece of paper one thing that is difficult at work “anonymous. These all put out for everyone to observe.
Break into pairs “show partner where and how you feel your stress physically “the partner then has to act/demonstrate/model the other person's stress
Individually to model out of clay their stress.
Then asked to give their lay model a name.
Then in a group sharing process people were asked to speak as their model and explain when they come out, how they feel, etc.

People’s reflections

This exercise is very deep and personal. People, by speaking in the voice of their figure, deeply connect to an often-abandoned part of their self. They feel deep sadness and relief for connecting to themselves again. It must be done with care that people have time for not leaving that vulnerability open and raw. People usually allow themselves to feel for him/her self and to nurture the neglected self.


Day 3:

People had really enjoyed the walk, getting out, the peace, the beauty of nature and the exercise. People had found the silence initially difficult. It felt as if one was being rude, or one worried what others thought, but it was really nice to have space to just think about all the thoughts that came to mind, personal issues etc.

Evaluation of the three days
This was valued as important time for them. They enjoyed the support for each other and the time it gave them. They felt that group supervision/debriefing/support was important if supportive. They felt that others should be given this opportunity too.

Personal comment
I believe that this was a deep process and was supportive, gentle and provided holding for people and created space to connect to selves and to begin to see a way forward. I would like to continue to offer these camps for staff.

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