October is World Menopause Month: Here’s how Sophrology can helpOct 17, 2022
During the perimenopause and menopause, many women notice changes in their body and the way that they feel, and can find this to be a challenging time. The menopause is a condition that affects all women, usually in their 40’s and 50’s but can also affect younger women as well as trans men and some non-binary people.
Equally it affects everyone indirectly as we will all most likely live with, work with and spend time with people going through the menopause at some point in our lives.
Many individuals do not realise they are in perimenopause or menopause because symptoms can be subtle at first and they assume they are due to stress, tiredness, the general pressures of life, or other factors such as age-related aches and pains, work issues or relationship problems.
During this time, the levels of some hormones drop, affecting all systems of the body, so symptoms can be widespread and varied, and different from person to person.
Symptoms can be physical and psychological. People think of hot flushes, however there are over 34 symptoms including headaches, joint and muscle pain, tinnitus, palpitations and difficulty sleeping. Psychological symptoms are just as common and often even more challenging and these can be anxiety, brain fog, memory lapses, lack of motivation and confidence and panic attacks.
With all these changes taking place, it is an important time to consider one’s lifestyle through nutrition, exercise, sleep and relaxation. Healthy nutrition can improve menopausal symptoms and give the energy boost that’s needed. And regular exercise that raises the heart rate and impacts through the joints is key to staying well and keeping bones strong. And furthermore, this benefits one’s mood and mental health.
Making time to relax and do things just for pleasure remains just as important, even if it can be a struggle to make this a priority. Connecting with others and spending time with close friends and family is known to improve mood and emotional health.
Sophrology is a great tool for women and their sense of wellbeing, offering gentle methods to ease tension and calm the mind. This technique is widely followed in Europe, particularly in France and has been growing in popularity in English speaking countries over the last few years. It was created 60 years ago in Spain by Professor Alfonso Caycedo, a psychiatrist and neurologist searching for a simple practice to ease the physical and mental stresses of daily life for his patients, and to develop harmony of body and mind.
It is often described as a ‘dynamic relaxation’ and combines various influences from Eastern philosophy and practices, with Western science. It therefore works very well in our modern world, using simple tools that draw on relaxation, breathing, meditation, visualisation and body awareness exercises.
For many people, it can be very hard to switch off the agitated mind. Our bodies are often full of adrenaline and our minds are constantly overloaded with information and will flit from one thought to another. This can be exhausting and it may feel impossible to consider sitting down and meditating to try to be ‘in the present’.
With stress and anxiety at very high levels nowadays, sophrology is a great way to restore a sense of calm into people's lives. During the menopause, symptoms are made worse by stress – it is detrimental to sleep, hot flushes and ageing, therefore minimising stress and better coping with it is key.
Guided sophrology sessions can be practised at anytime, anywhere and generally combine a breathing exercise, a simple body movement and tension release exercise, and a visualisation. The use of positive visualisation is one of the components of the sophrology practice that makes it so unique and special.
Sophrology can help you reconnect with your body, find acceptance with the things you cannot control and look for positives on which to focus your energy.
It has been shown that when women adopt a positive attitude they go through [life and] the menopause more serenely, with less discomfort.
Many women practise Sophrology exercises, long after the menopause, to help them age better, to be in harmony with their environment and keep their energy by mobilising their own resources. Sophrology can help to reduce the intensity of hot flushes, limit stress peaks, calm irritability and avoid periods of sadness. It allows you to find a positive contact with your body. Based on the close relationship between body and mind, it teaches you to find the energy that is within you, to know how to nurture yourself, to discover your own resources. The practice is not a miracle cure. But the more you repeat the exercises, the better it works.
Within the exercises, you learn to become aware of your breath, giving you a sense of space and calm. Focussing on the rhythm of your inhalation and exhalation helps you to concentrate, clear your mind and slow down your heart rate. By relaxing, breathing deeply and closing your eyes, you learn to visualise positive images associated with well-being and calm. For example, we imagine ourselves lying on a beach, listening to the regular sound of the waves, breathing in the smells. We notice how we are feeling emotionally, without judgement. Just noticing.
It is a very practical approach and with regular practice, even just 10 minutes a day, you can quickly notice the benefits – feeling more calm and relaxed, having greater mental clarity and increased self- awareness and confidence.
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. It therefore can be a great support during the perimenopause and menopause years.
If you are curious to learn more about Sophrology, from either a personal or corporate perspective, then please do contact Caroline by email: [email protected]
Caroline is a qualified Sophrologist, and also Operations Manager at Thriving Talent.
Follow Caroline on Instagram @sophrologywellbeing
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