Stress NPAD – Training Iceland

On the cadre of the ”Stress NPAD” project, a meeting was held in Iceland during 3 days with all the partners: Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Sweden, Iceland.

The Icelandic seminar will focus on three topics in order to achieve the main goal of the STRESS project, which is to: organize international trainings about active methods to help prevent and cope with stress and burnout. In this project, we are encouraged to work out of the classroom and have the partners themselves experience the different methods we are trying out. This idea is based on the simple fact that we usually learn better with participation and experience.

Each day started with a one hour meeting about our feelings and how the day would go according to the weather. Each morning we had to choose an image from a batch of pictures that we would have to talk about the next day, and in the evening, we had to write on a post-it note our feelings about the previous day to display and discuss with each other.

On the first day, after the meeting we went to a yoga institute, during the session we were guided by two people, one guided us with words and the other with sounds. The exercises were designed to relax us, but also to refocus on our body, our soul and how we wanted to move forward with ourselves. After dinner at the hotel, we had the afternoon free to choose how we wanted to spend our time. The Swedish team decided to go to a place that offered relaxation via water with hot and cold water pools. We chose this because the Icelandic team explained to us that water was very important on the island, because the locals spend a lot of time learning to swim in case of problems, but also because it is one of the most used methods to relax by the locals, there are apparently water areas, pools in all the cities.

Then we visited the cave ”Skessuhelli gigantas” featuring the home of a fake giant troll, which allowed Anna to explain to us that as a mother on this risky island (volcano, earthquake, dark night in winter…) she used like many other parents the troll stories to scare the children to avoid going out without permission, and this allows the parents to be more reassured.

On the second day, we started the meeting by talking about our images, and words about our feelings from the day before.

Then we had the chance to be accompanied by Ana Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, an artist and nature guide. She took us for a walk around the sea and talked about history, especially about sailors and the ships that ran aground on the coast. We also talked about the piles of stones used at night to find our way around in winter or used to deliver messages (we left our paper inside the pile of stones, which was then protected from the weather, and could be retrieved by the next person). In this idea of storytelling, we created our own pile of stone.  Creating nature art

Finally, we had the chance to visit the house of the artist Sveinn BJörnsson, which is one of the largest museums in the country with more than eight thousand works. We followed the evolution of the artist’s life through his paintings and the voice of his son who gave us a tour.

On the third and last day, we started the day with the usual meeting. Then we met Hafdís Hrund Sólveigar Gísladóttir the creator of the Mobile Sauna, who explained to us how she had created her project and why. After that she invited us to try it out, which I think was an incredible experience for everyone. The sauna was set up in front of the sea. We had three 30 minute sessions in the sauna, then at the end of each session we went outside to the landscape and jumped into the freezing water. 

After that we went to the Blue Lagoon to see how the place works, then Gunnuhver and the stories about women and magic, and finally the discovery of the landscape by the sea and Reykjanesskagi.

We left after a meal at our Icelandic hosts’ home to discuss the last few days and say goodbye.

The most important thing to remember about this trip is the nature based work, but also all the different ways to find refuges to fight stress with water, storytelling, reflection in nature, history, dance, music…