Fighting fatigue with the help of sophrology
Published 30 Nov 2023 • By Ingrid Fournier
"I'm tired, exhausted". You've no doubt already felt this state of fatigue, with all its physical and psychological symptoms.
So what is fatigue? What are its symptoms? How can sophrology prevent tiredness and manage its various states?
Find all the answers in our article!
What really is fatigue?
Fatigue can be defined as a feeling of reduced energy and the inability to sustain physical or mental effort over a long period of time.
It can be temporary, linked to brief, intense physical effort, occasional intense intellectual activity, too short a night's sleep, a particular health condition (pregnancy, menstruation), or a brief viral or bacterial infection.
In these cases, the symptoms of temporary fatigue generally disappear after a night's restful sleep or a few days' rest in a quiet environment.
When fatigue persists or worsens beyond a few days' rest, it is called asthenia. If it lasts for more than 6 months, it is said to be chronic. This type of fatigue is experienced continuously, both on a physical and mental levels. Exhaustion is no longer corrected by simple rest, and quality of life is severely damaged. Daily tasks become mountains to climb, sometimes requiring considerable effort.
The symptoms of chronic fatigue can include muscle or joint pain and reduced resistance to physical effort. Sleep disturbances may appear, as well as difficulties with concentration and memory, attention problems and headaches. Digestive problems or changes in eating habits may also be experienced.
Anxiety, noise intolerance, hyper-emotionality and general demotivation are also frequently mentioned by chronic fatigue sufferers.
Sleep is essential for recovery. But sometimes it is not enough, because despite the right amount of sleep and the right rhythms, the feeling of tiredness can persist.
The body then needs to rest. And resting is not the same as sleeping! Rest can be achieved through activities that you find enjoyable: reading, doing puzzles or colouring, sitting idly in your favourite armchair, practising meditation, taking a bath, getting a massage, doing a relaxation exercise!
I would like to remind you that it is important to see a doctor if you continue to feel tired, as it may be the sign of a chronic or auto-immune disease, burn out, depression, cancer, heart failure or a long Covid, among others.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, on the other hand, is a very different illness, not to be confused with chronic fatigue.
People suffering from chronic pain very frequently talk about feeling tired, having trouble sleeping and feeling worn out.
To help you take a step back from your pain and combat your fatigue, I have decided to share 3 sophrology exercises to practise regularly.
So what is sophrology?
Sophrology is a mind-body method, meaning that the body and mind are inseparable and work together. In sophrology, we sometimes use the body to work on the mind and vice versa.
Sophrology was created by Alfredo Caycedo, a neuropsychiatrist, in the 1960s. He was inspired by various Western techniques such as hypnosis, Jacobson's progressive relaxation therapy, autogenic training, Milton H. Erickson's brief therapy and autosuggestion. These techniques would influence him in the development of sophrology. During numerous trips to the East, he discovered the Eastern practices of Indian yoga, Tibetan Buddhism and Japanese Zen, which would enrich his methodology.
Sophrology is about becoming aware of yourself, your body, your feelings and your emotions. It helps establish or reinforce the balance between your body, your mind and your emotions.
Using appropriate exercises based on breathing and muscle relaxation, this method helps you return to a state of serenity and well-being, and to reconnect with your feelings and needs and find your own rhythm.
When you are ill or unhappy, you often perceive your body in a negative way. One of the primary aims of sophrology is to reduce the "negative" and reinforce the "positive". This is the principle of positive action, which states that all positive actions, thoughts and feelings have a positive impact on the body and mind. When you feel good, you have a better perception of yourself and therefore a better self-image.
What's more, when you take time to practise sophrology, you admit that you need to recuperate rather than just feel guilty about being tired. Breathing and muscular relaxation exercises help you recover physically by oxygenating your body and relaxing your muscles. Visualisation techniques allow you to regenerate in depth, in particular by stopping the flood of negative thoughts.
You take your mind off your problems, stress and fatigue for a few minutes of rest. Sophrology will teach you to recognise your resources and mobilise them at the right moment.
Here are 3 new exercises to help you in your daily life. I recommend that you read the instructions carefully before doing the exercises.
3 sophrology exercises to combat fatigue!
Fan exercise to fight off your fatigue
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Unlock your knees, relax your stomach, relax your arms and hands along your body and let your shoulders drop, keeping your head in line with your back.
Close your eyes and take a moment to notice which parts of your body are tired. Is it in your head, your muscles, your back, your shoulders...?
Breathe in through your nose, raising your arms horizontally in front of you.
Bend your wrists upwards and hold your breath for a moment.
Then move your wrists back and forth, as if you were using your hands to clear away the fatigue from your body.
Then let your hands return naturally to your chest as you continue to imagine clearing away your fatigue.
Breathe out through your mouth and let your arms move back down your body.
Resume breathing naturally, keeping your eyes closed and welcoming the feelings of relaxation, relief or calm that this exercise brings.
Do this sequence 3 times.
Head exercise. Say «no» to pain and fatigue, say «yes» to relaxation and calm
You can do this exercise sitting down.
Inhale, hold your breath and very slowly say "no" with your head. You are saying "no" to your tiredness, to the symptoms of your illness, to your pain. Then breathe out, bringing your head back to the centre.
Take a few moments to take in your feelings (in the back of your neck, on your face, your shoulders...).
Say "no" two more times.
Now nod your head as if to say "yes" to relaxation, and the feeling of calm.
Inhale as you bring your chin down against your chest. Inhale as you raise your head very gently, as if looking up into the air (breathing in relaxation).
Hold your breath. Then breathe out through your mouth, lowering your chin against your chest to spread this relaxation throughout your body.
Become aware of the calming sensation you feel.
You should also be aware of the movement of your head. Nothing is set in stone; your pain and fatigue fluctuate.
Perhaps notice how light your head feels now.
Repeat two more times.
Prana exercise: energy ball
Remember that when you're tired, you're resting. When you're sleepy, you're asleep. Stand or sit on the edge of a chair with your arms by your sides.
Close your eyes.
Breathe calmly through your nose as you gently raise your arms horizontally, stretched out in front of you, palms open and facing downwards.
Imagine a yellow-orange ball of energy in front of you. You can almost feel its warmth.
Gently bend your arms, bringing your palms towards your chest, imagining bringing this ball of energy to you and placing it on your chest.
Breathe out through your mouth.
Allow your arms to move gently down your body, in a fluid movement, imagining that you are spreading vitality and tone throughout your body.
Repeat this exercise three times, concentrating on your feelings.
Remember that when you are tired, you need to rest. When you are sleepy, you need to sleep.
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