Move Over, Mindfulness: Sophrology Is the Newest Stress-Busting Technique

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Sophrology practice combines relaxation techniques and dynamic movements with components of meditation and mindfulness.
Sophrology practice combines relaxation techniques and dynamic movements with components of meditation and mindfulness.

As physician workloads increase and burnout rates skyrocket, there is a constant search for new ways to cope. Sophrology, a stress management technique popular in Europe, may help ease the burden.

The definition of sophrology is, “the study of consciousness in harmony.” The practice was founded in the early 1960s by Colombian neuropsychiatrist and professor Alfonso Caycedo as an alternative option to potentially traumatic interventions.1 Professor Caycedo sought to use sophrology to treat war veterans with posttraumatic stress syndrome.2 The practice was first implemented in France and Switzerland and is now even covered by health insurance.1

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At its core, sophrology is about stress management. The practice combines relaxation techniques and dynamic movements, using components of meditation, mindfulness, breathing, visualization, phenomenology, and dynamic relaxation exercises.3 The ultimate goal of sophrology is for participants to “become fully present, fully alive and fully participating, comfortably and joyfully, in all areas of life.”3

Sophrology practitioners work with a certified sophrologist who guides participants through a series of exercises. First, the sophrologist will have the person sit or stand with eyes closed and focus on each part of the body. Next, the sophrologist will guide the person to focus on a particular subject. These subjects can be modified to best help the patient. For example, sophrologists can help improve public speaking, relationships with partners, or performance at work.

Once a person has worked with a sophrologist and learned some techniques, sophrology can be practiced anywhere. According to certified sophrologists and devotees of the practice, benefits include increased concentration, increased motivation, improved self-esteem, and better sleep.2

Because sophrology has its roots in medicine, it may be a more accessible alternative for those who have wanted to try mindfulness but felt skeptical. With stress and anxiety at near-epidemic levels, sophrology may be a way to restore a sense of calm into people's lives.

References

  1. BeSophro. About Sophrology Founder Alfonso Caycedo. https://www.be-sophro.co.uk/alfonso-caycedo-founder-of-sophrology/. August 18, 2016. Accessed June19, 2018.
  2. Manning-Schaffel V. What is sophrology, the latest stress-busting mindfulness trend? NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/what-sophrology-latest-stress-busting-mindfulness-trend-ncna870441. May 15, 2018. Accessed June 13, 2018.
  3. Sophrology Center Online. What is sophrology? http://www.sophrologycenteronline.com/about-sophrology/what-is-sophrology/. Accessed June 13, 2018.

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