Sophrology? What’s that I hear you say? Well to be honest, that was my first reaction too.

But as it’s Sleeptember – our awareness month highlighting the healthy benefits of sleep – then I have to say I was intrigued when I heard about this therapy.  It’s not something I’ve come across before so I thought it would be good to share with you all!

Sophrology is a gentle therapy – think along the lines of a cross between Eastern techniques (Yoga, Buddhist Meditation and Japanese Zen) and Western therapeutic techniques (Hypnosis, Classical Relaxation Methods) – that aims to improve our wellbeing and quality of life. The technique offers exercises that are easy to practice in your everyday life and includes breathing work, body movements, muscular relaxation and visualisation.

We all know (well you should if you’ve been following this blog!) that sleeping well is key to good health and wellbeing. If we don’t get enough sleep – for whatever reason – then it impacts on our behavior. Bad sleep can affect our personal and/or professional relationships, can lead to a drop in energy and inability to focus and concentrate and affect our performance at work.

So how does Sophrology help sleep?

– Learn to evacuate physical tension. Sophrology encourages you to listen to your body, identify where the tension is held and learn to release it.

– Use the breath to calm the mind down, let go of unnecessary worries and relax; and the visualisation work to focus your attention on positive, calming images rather than recurring distracting thoughts.

– Learn short exercises to use during the day to regain energy when feeling tired as well as techniques to manage stress and anxiety which can affect sleep. What you do during the day impacts how you sleep at night. To sleep well, it is important that you prepare for a good night sleep throughout the day.

Here are a three Sophrology exercises you can try yourself at home at bedtime:

– Lying in bed, become aware of the position of your body, feel the points of contact of your body with the mattress, the sensation of the duvet on your skin. Scan your body from head to toe and let go of any tension in the muscle. Relax each and every muscle of your body. After you finish the scan, take a breath in, gently tense up the muscles of your whole body and as you breathe out, you relax deeply and imagine that all tension, unnecessary worries, negativity is leaving your body through your mouth. If it helps, you can imagine the tension leaving your body in the form of a dark colour or dark bubbles. Repeat 3 times in total.

– Move your awareness to your breath. Hands on your abdomen. Notice the flow of air coming in and out, the pattern of your breathing. Let your abdomen rise as you breathe in and lower as you breathe out. After a minute or so, start changing the pattern of your breathing so you are breathing out for longer than you breathe in. As you do so, enjoy the feeling of relaxation and calmness settling into your body and your mind. Practice this breathing exercise for a few minutes.

– If you are still awake by then, imagine yourself in a place that you love, a place that makes you feel happy, serene and calm. Try and use your 5 senses to immerse yourself in the place. For example, if the sun is in the picture, feel the sunrays on your skin, the soothing energy surrounding your body. Welcome any sensations in the body with an open mind. To let the positivity and calmness coming through settle into your body and mind, imagine you are breathing it in through your nostrils and as you breathe out, you let it diffuse throughout your whole body.

And here’s an exercise to practice during the day to keep stress in check, release body tension and prepare for a good night sleep:

Take micro breaks throughout the day. The secret is in taking very short breaks several times during the day (30 seconds can be enough so there’s no excuses not to do it!). It can make a real difference in the long term to your energy levels and sleep quality.

– Sit down, close your eyes, unclench your jaws, relax your shoulders, let go of any unnecessary tension held in the body, concentrate on the contact of your feet with the floor and breathe out loudly.

– Tune in with yourself: “Am I breathing?” You definitely are but sometimes you hold your breath unconsciously, especially when you’re concentrating on something new. How are you breathing? How does it feel? Do you like it? Do you want to change anything? Experiment with how you breathe and adjust it to find the right pattern for you. As much as you can, try and breathe from your abdomen.

So what do you think to Sophrology? Is it something you’ve used and has it worked?

*Thanks to Marion Beauregard, Sophrology Practitioner and Complementary Therapist for providing the information. If you would like to know more about Sophrology visit www.vie-tality.com

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