Caring for the carers in Swaziland

Categories: Care.

“This is the first time I have ever been taught about relaxation techniques. Now I know how to take care of myself better. I am going to share this with my family.”

“I feel so much more relaxed and less stressed than I did when we started this morning. I feel I can cope with the difficulties ahead of me now.”

“What a beautiful experience. My patients are going to benefit.”

These are some of the comments that were made by the 37 people who attended a fun-filled workshop hosted by The Rocking Horse Project and led by visiting psychologist Dr Chris Weintrob for staff of Caritas at Hope House in Manzini.

The topic was “Self-Care when Caring for Others” and began with an invitation to the attendees to share how they were feeling right at that time. At first there was a reluctance to do this and everyone seemed to be fine, but once the first person admitted to feeling depressed and overwhelmed, the flood gates opened and real emotions were expressed.

This paved the way for Dr Weintrob to explain some basic relaxation techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation which everyone attempted with much enthusiasm and enjoyment.

He then explained the three tenets of Mindfulness and lots of fun was had when one block of chocolate had to be kept in our mouths for three whole minutes. One chocoholic commented that she had never realized how sweet chocolate was before attempting this exercise.

In his report on the morning, Dr Weintrob said “I was pleasantly surprised at how open the audience was. Most members were extremely candid in sharing their challenges as well as solutions to such challenges which is something that can be difficult in a large group setting. It was also heartening to see how open-minded they were in terms of embracing mindfulness and the other self-care and relaxation techniques. In the US, psychology students are often resistant to such “touchy-feely” techniques as they prefer to understand and treat clients in a highly intellectualized manner whereas the participants at Hope House – most of whom I’m sure had never heard of many of these techniques – were extremely willing to attempt them in session and hopefully will utilize them going forward both personally and with those for whom they care.”

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