It is one of the two Erasmus+ KA1 projects of Academy of Experience, focusing on well-being and mental health. We offer tools and exercises based on outdoor experiential education and artistic self-expression for educators, trainers and helping professionals. By increasing awareness and knowledge, they can apply these tools in their professional and personal lives to nurture their own mental well-being and prevent burnout at work. The project is inspired by the “HEART” method, a synergy of outdoor experiential education and artistic methodologies.

Wanderlust was a particularly useful experience for me. In addition to giving us an insight into the system and areas of applicability of the games and methodologies collected by the HEART projects – which is particularly useful and I have been looking for a similar collection for years – it also provided an opportunity for individual situation assessment.

For me, the biggest benefit of this type of training is the development of self-awareness. I have come to realize how much I am obsessed with delivering: if I am given a task I ‘have to’ do it, I have to deliver – hence the burnout I have experienced in my work over the years. The training was very intense and at times it felt like running, at other times I was given the opportunity to stop for a moment and just be. Those moments were really valuable for me and the most valuable thing I could take away was to remind myself to stop sometimes, to make it a priority to give myself time, and that is more important than completing the task. It’s actually what prevents burnout. 

After the training, we had the opportunity to attend a two-day conference on the same topic. We were very exhausted, we were tired, yet I felt a kind of strength and curiosity that did not allow me to be passive. And that was the real test: how can I manage my energy and my time when I’m tired, so that I can recharge at the same time as I’m exhausted? There were activities I was more passive in, some I skipped and some I was very active in. And all without beating myself up about it. What I have learned over and over again, is that mindfulness is the way to keep these things in check and keep a balance.

Here are a few concrete and abstract lists of what I remember from the training and conference: Three Treasure Valley – silence, stillness, beautiful lights, post-sauna steaming, tastiest veggie food ever, dawn meditation, connection, warm hugs, vulnerability, understanding, ego and lack of ego, empathy, play, challenge, roaring deers, hugging old trees, pancakes at night, smelling sticks, origami life lessons, falling asleep to a hangpan concert, fifteen minute storms, being good to yourself, saying no, running for good, kneading yourself into clay and I could go on and on but I think I’ll stop here. 

Nóra Benkő

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