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The effectiveness of Out in the Field stems from these core methodological practices that underlie the programme

Forest bathing

Forest Bathing is the English translation of the Japanese term ‘Shinrin-yoku’.  It is about spending quality time, under the canopy of trees, in a forest, for health and wellbeing purposes.  There is a growing body of data to show Forest Bathing can bring about benefits such as reduced blood pressure, lower stress, improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, boost the immune system, improve concentration and memory and lift depression. 

You can discover more about forest bathing here.

A typical forest bathing session as part of an Out in the Field retreat is a 2-3 hour gentle guided walk through the woodland, sensory exercises, mindfulness practices, group sharing and learning about the benefits of trees and nature connectedness.    

Mind-body practice (Sophrology)

Sophrology is a mind-body practice in use for over 60 years in Europe, mainly French-speaking countries. The word itself comes from Greek roots meaning the science, or study, of consciousness in harmony.  Sophrology was created in the medical world as a structured method drawing on both western and eastern approaches to support physical and mental health and wellbeing. It consists of a series of easy-to-do exercises to practise regularly. 

You can learn more about Sophrology here 

A key aspect of the Out in the Field retreats is teaching participants a few simple Sophrology techniques that promote balance, improved performance and overall wellbeing. This includes practical exercises using breathing, relaxation and mental imagery and how to use them in daily life, building autonomy for restoring inner balance and managing stress in the moment, whenever and wherever needed. Emphasis is on reconnecting with oneself from the inside to discover hidden resources for improving wellbeing.

Nutritional therapy and medicinal cooking

Chronic stress and ‘burnout’ have both a physical and mental effect on the body. Nutrition can act as an effective tool in supporting the body systems which can become easily depleted during these times. Central to this support is balancing blood sugar levels and consequently keys hormones, which promote a steady supply of energy to the mind and body. This not only results in healthy energy levels but also helps to reduce some of the physiological triggers to feelings of anxiety, irritability and sugar cravings. 

Out in the Field retreats meals are prepared that are high in plant-based fibre, protein (vegetarian) and healthy fats, all of which are key in stabilising blood sugar and regulating the hunger hormones.

The meals and nutritional benefits, designed specifically around the pressures frontline workers are under (long working hours, shift work, difficulty accessing healthy food) are introduced to the participants as an example of how they can support their mental and physical well-being through the foods they eat. 

Group reflection

The group reflection practices support the sharing of ideas, experiences and deep listening. Hearing the stories of others helps to build connection, insight, compassion and collective wisdom. 

We design the practices around the needs and dynamics of the group – facilitating conversation in both small groups and as a whole team – sharing life stories that have shaped our sense of self, people who have inspired us and hardships experienced and exploring challenges and reconnecting with a sense of purpose. 

The practices also support the group to look forward to conditions and actions to enable their wellbeing, and the facilitators harvest key take-ways to feed back to the managers and the staff well-being support staff. 

Reflecting together with colleagues can also allow the group to identify complex issues encountered at work that are common across hospitals and departments.