Ask An Expert: What is Sophrology and How Can It Help With StressBy amelia richards
What is Sophrology? And how could it help you to moderate your stress levels, boost your mental wellbeing and improve your physical health? Dominique Antiglio, Sophrologist at BeSophro clinics and author of best-selling book The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology, gives us the lowdown on exactly what Sophrology is, and tells us how you can use it to help cope with lockdown life.
Sophrology is a practice that combines Western science and Eastern wisdom to help regulate stress, improve sleep and live more mindfully. The practice of Sophrology consists of a series of dynamic relaxation techniques, both physical and mental, which, when practiced regularly, should enhance wellbeing in both body and mind.
Stress During Lockdown
COVID-19 has put the collective public into a heightened state of fight or flight and the subsequent lockdown has certainly created a new stress in people’s daily lives. This stress will be different for everybody but it can take shape in the form of financial stress, ill health, loneliness, fear of the future, worry for loved ones, anxiety relating to a job, and even experience of grief and loss.
However, there is one thing that is interesting – a lot of people who were already leading very stressful daily lives actually now have a chance to stop. People can use this time to look into self-care, introspection, and to proactively look for stress management solutions to implement now so that they will have the necessary tools, techniques and coping mechanisms for when they resume daily life post-lockdown. In a way, this could be an incredibly positive opportunity for some people to transform the usual stresses of daily life, if they are in a position to do so now.
Why Sophrology is Particularly Helpful During Lockdown
One of the best techniques to overcome coronavirus-related stress is to make the effort to stay in the present moment, the reason being that a lot of this stress focuses on the unknown and uncertainty. Once the mind latches onto these fears, thoughts can escalate very quickly, causing unnecessary stress. Nobody knows how this will unfold, but we also never know this in everyday life anyway – pandemic or not. Therefore, the perception that something could go terribly wrong tomorrow is something to watch and be careful of.
This is why practicing Sophrology – a form of dynamic meditation that uses breathing techniques, movement, visualisation and grounding, is so powerful, because the combination of movement and meditation techniques in unison brings you into presence much more effectively than other still-state meditative-only practices.
Try this Sophrology technique called ‘The Pump’ to help you release pent-up stress and tension, and help you to reconnect more positively with your body during times of overwhelm:
- – Stand tall, close your eyes, allow your arms to fall by your sides
- – Mentally locate where in the body you feel any stress and tension, and clench your fists
- – Exhale through your mouth, take a deep breath in through your nose, and hold the breath
- – Now ‘pump’ both your shoulders up and down until you need to breathe out – this pumping action helps to oxygenate the brain
- – As you exhale, allow your clenched fists to relax, visualising all your tension and anxiety draining out through your fingertips
- – Repeat the process for as long as you need to release any lingering agitation
Collectively, we are programmed as a species to be resilient. There will certainly be difficulty after the pandemic when people search for normality within a new normal, but I’m hopeful that this will have made us realise the power of community, hope, positivity, protecting planet, reassessing where we want to go in life, caring for the vulnerable in society. Hopefully these will prevail and can help to counterbalance the tension and stress that we’ve all been under. I’m confident that we’ll find a more positive way forward.
For more wellbeing content to keep you feeling your best during lockdown, make sure you check out our archives.
Dominique’s book is available to buy here.