How can Sophrology help manage stress and build resilience?

Nov 13, 2023

Do you have a mind that tends to race? You feel like you are full of adrenaline, you have perhaps tried many times to sit still and meditate but been unable to? You are not alone! Many of us are seeking inner calm and harmony but we want it efficiently. Is that a paradox? No. The good news is Sophrology offers a simple structure that makes it more accessible to many of us who have tried and failed before!

Sophrology is often described as a dynamic mindfulness or relaxation technique. Widely known and followed in Continental Europe especially in French speaking countries, Sophrology was initially created 60 years ago in Spain by a Spanish neuropsychiatrist named Alfonso Caycedo, to treat war-traumatised victims and it achieved excellent results. 

Over the years, the techniques have been refined and improved so that it not only can be used as an effective treatment for mental health issues and other conditions, but also a way to promote wellbeing and manage stress, and enhance overall quality of life.

Decades ahead of the recent popularity of mindfulness, Sophrology is often described as a dynamic mindfulness or relaxation. And because its roots are medical, it is often more accessible than some spiritually-driven practices.

Sophrology is wonderful for people who are busy, who have minds that tend to race, a body that can be full of adrenaline and who perhaps find it hard to sit still and meditate. Many of us feel powerless in our fast-changing world and like we have no choice but to react to external circumstances. 

At its core, Sophrology emphasises the importance of the mind-body connection and the idea that individuals can achieve a state of harmony and inner balance through structured practice. It incorporates various gentle physical and mental exercises, such as breathing, gentle movement, visualisation and positive affirmations, to help individuals develop greater self-awareness, resilience, and a sense of inner peace. 

It’s the simple structure of the practice that makes Sophrology accessible to everyone - and practising regularly for as little as 10 minutes a day can really help us reach our full potential.

Let me bring it to life for you with an example: the very simple ‘tension relax’ exercise. Either seated or standing, ideally with eyes closed, breathe in through your nose, hold your breath, raise your arms above your head and now tense all the various parts of your body. From the tips of your fingertips to your feet…. not forgetting your face, your back, arms, legs…. the whole body. When you are ready to breathe out, stop tensing your body whilst exhaling an audible sigh. Breathing out through your mouth, gently dropping your arms back down to your sides and relaxing, releasing and ‘letting go’. Do this two more times. Now take a moment, still with eyes closed to notice anything at all in your body. Any sensations, temperature, anything at all. Just observe, without judgement.

With stress and anxiety at very high levels nowadays, Sophrology is a great way to restore a sense of calm into people's lives. Its ultimate goal is for participants to become fully present, fully alive and fully participating, comfortably and happily, in all areas of life. It speaks to the deep need for people to reduce stress, clear their head and focus. The practices help individuals reduce stress by calming the nervous system and promoting relaxation. In general, sleep quality is improved which then allows individuals to get the rest they need to recover from stress.

Furthermore, Sophrology emphasises mindfulness and self-awareness, encouraging individuals to become more in tune with their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. This self-awareness can be a powerful tool for recognizing stress triggers and addressing them before they escalate. And the exercises can improve focus and concentration, which can be helpful in managing stress. When individuals can stay present and focused, they are better equipped to handle challenging situations without becoming overwhelmed.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and adapt to challenging situations. Sophrology can help individuals develop resilience by teaching them to manage stress and anxiety in a healthy way. By regularly practising relaxation techniques and mindfulness, individuals can better cope with life's ups and downs. It opens our minds to new perspectives and helps us face life challenges in a positive way. It helps us to find balance and calm in our busy lives and to ‘act’ rather than ‘react’.

Through this practice, we invite calm and clarity in our lives, helping us to connect with our resilience and improve our mental and physical health. We start to be able to tune into the state of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ all the time, as we go through our day, completing our tasks. The world becomes clearer and the result is greater self-esteem and self-confidence.

In Switzerland, Sophrology is widely used in business, high level sport, the medical professions (especially for childbirth), schools, universities and families and the good news is that it is also covered by many Swiss insurance companies.

If you read this and you recognise that you do indeed need to press pause and find a greater balance, then prioritise your well-being and ask for help. At Thriving Talent, we advocate for humane workplaces which enable Caring and Career, ranging from Self care, Caring for Family of all ages, Caring for Teams, Caring in the Community, Caring for Pets… If you are curious to learn more about Sophrology as an effective Self Care tool, then contact Caroline directly as she is very passionate about this topic: [email protected]

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