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Retreats and the importance of self-care

Jul 04 2019
Self-care and finding a real break is often difficult for carers to achieve for a number of reasons, but they are vital to maintaining a healthy balance and recharging.

Carer retreats often have a similar affect to regular Mental Health Support Groups. These opportunities offer the obvious benefits such as a chance to relax, to have a mental break, and to focus on
themselves.

However, there are many additional benefits to a carers retreat. These retreats are often informal and may have a therapeutic aspect to help gain some understanding or perspective. The opportunity to connect with other people in similar roles allows people to feel less isolated and help normalise their journey, and realise that even though they often feel alone or like no-one around them truly understands, there are many people out there that they can connect with and share their feelings.

This quarter, we were fortunate to gain funding to be able to run specialised Mental Health retreats for carers across the region. We were able to provide a retreat for women at the Caves in May, and June to bring a retreat for the male carers.

The retreats were designed by our counsellor, Deb, who ran these in view of maximising emotional connectedness, relaxation, and mindfulness techniques, allowing participants to take home tools and strategies to help them to maintain their own self-care.

The women’s retreat included numerous activities along these lines, with an optional night-time journey through the Caves. For some, the highlight was sitting in the cavern, with low lights and beautiful music, bringing some tears at just how beautiful and spiritual this was.

Others managed to conquer some fears of confined areas or heights by going over the bridge in the dark. Feedback showed that everyone’s journey on this retreat was similar in their need for sharing with each other and learning from both Deb and other participants, while everyone took away something slightly different that they were keen to use at home.

The Men’s Retreat included a fishing trip on a boat, leaving from Rosslyn Bay. Deb had designed this trip especially for male carers from feedback through her therapy sessions.

Fishing has shown to have many positive effects for health and wellbeing, particularly for those with depression or anxiety. It helps to increase Vitamin D (which is crucial to many other regulatory systems) and helps boost your immune system. It also provides an opportunity to connect over a common interest, without being forced.

A huge thank you to Deb Arnold for her extra work and commitment to make these so effective and enjoyable for all participants.