Imagine if you could easily and painlessly transform a full day of work into a peaceful experience. How would you like that? What would it feel like? Well, this dream may come true if you follow our Sophrology advice!
But first, what is Sophrology?
Sophrology means ‘the science of the consciousness in harmony’. It is a life-balancing technique made of very practical physical and mental exercises aiming at creating an alert mind in a relaxed body. It is simple and does not require complicated postures or large amounts of time each day.
Sophrology gives you a very practical set of tools using relaxation and breathing techniques, visualisation and simple movements. At the crossroads between western relaxation techniques and eastern meditation, it has been used for more than 50 years in continental Europe in a large variety of areas: in the corporate world for stress relief, increased efficiency and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injuries; in hospitals and general medical practice by doctors, nurses, mid-wives and dentists; and in sports, arts and education.
So, in the real world, how does that work?
Well, let’s go through your day and see what you could do.
Starting the day: The alarm clock goes. Breathe deeply, stretch fully and off you go. Breakfast? Of course! But even if you only drink an orange juice or a cup of tea, let’s make it into a moment that counts: first sit down (it is not going to take you longer!) and whatever you are having, taste it, savour it, and enjoy it!
Transport: Driving or taking public transport? Can you believe that you can actually use that time to relax? Waiting for the train? Waiting at the traffic light? Use any waiting time during your day as compulsory relaxation time! That can be at the coffee machine, or waiting for your computer to start. Breathe, bring your shoulders down, check there are no tensions anywhere in your body, and if there are, try and let go of them. Not really into any kind of breathing techniques? Just try and breathe a bit more slowly and deeply. Do not try too hard, keep it comfortable.
At work: Take a break before you are tired. You will restore your energy much more quickly and be effective and feel alert much longer. Here are a few ideas:
- Sitting down, close your eyes, unclench your jaws, relax your shoulders, concentrate on the contact of your feet with the floor and breathe out loudly.
- Several times during the day, check in with yourself: ‘Am I breathing?’ Yes, I know you are! But how? How does it feel? Do you like it or do you want to change anything?
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.
In a meeting, even on the phone, you can breathe, nice and slow. It will take you the extra mile. On the phone, if you are smiling, it will not only help the quality of your conversation but also how you feel.
Back at home: If your mind is still at work, here is another simple exercise for you. Sit down, close your eyes and see yourself leaving work and closing firmly the door behind you. Then see yourself in front of your home door; you can feel how you are dressed, how you are standing. Get in the way you usually get in, inserting the key and turning the handle. You get in and stop on the door step and look at what you see inside – the corridor, the room. Get inside and choose a place in the house which you particularly like and settle in. Then, let the images go and listen to how you are feeling. Breathe out, rub your hands and open your eyes. Are you ready for the end of the day?
Use the time when you are cooking dinner, eating or anything else to be fully focused on that and only that, doing one thing at a time.
Going to bed: Allow for at least 30 minutes to unwind without television or any screen or any work-related activity before going to bed. Do something you enjoy, something calm that will gently lead you towards a better sleep.