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frequently asked Questions
Let's first see its definition and how its study has evolved over time.
Definition of the word stress
The word stress comes from the Latin stringere which means "to make stiff", "to tighten", "to squeeze".
This Latin root is taken up quite early by the English language where it is assimilated to the word "distress", which means distress but also narrowness. It is through this that an extension of the meaning of the word "stress" was made in reference to certain difficulties in life, adversity and its consequences.
The term stress now designates both the agent responsible for the problem, the reaction to this agent and the state in which the reacting person is.
The study of stress from the beginning to the present day
In the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, many researchers had foreseen the existence of "stress" as a general response mode of a living organism to external aggressions. Charles Darwin had thus noticed the essential role of fear as a means of mobilizing the organism and facilitating its survival, by helping it to face danger (Darwin C., “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Oxford University Press ”, 1872).
We will note this quote from Charles Darwin in connection with this work: "The species which will survive are neither the strongest nor the most intelligent, but those which have been able to adapt to their environment".
In 1935, Walter Cannon spoke of the secretion of adrenaline in response to fear and fury (Cannon W., "The Wisdom of the body", 1932). Cannon demonstrated the mechanism of adrenaline secretion which allows the body to cope with external (temperature variation for example) and internal changes (such as the body's energy needs for example). He defines stress as "corresponding to both physical and emotional stimuli, possibly related to social and industrial organization" (Cannon W., "Stress and strain of homeostasis", 1935).
The concept of stress was introduced by the endocrinologist Hans Selye, who published in 1956 The stress of life. Observing his patients, he describes the mechanism of adaptation syndrome, that is to say all the modifications which allow an organism to withstand the consequences of a natural or operative trauma. He subsequently published Stress without distress in 1974, (Le Stress sans Détresse) and his autobiography The stress of my life (1977).
The idea for the concept of stress and general adaptation syndrome came to him in 1925 while studying medicine at the University of Prague. Subsequently he developed the concept of Eustress. This term he coined consists of two parts. The prefix "eu" comes from the Greek word which means "good" or "good". Attached to the word stress, it literally means "good stress". Subsequently, various notions were added to define, on the one hand the notion of a-stress, on the other hand of dystress. A-stress is a depriving state of stress (which can be obtained in particular through meditation) whose beneficial effects for health are experienced in medicine.
Research works relate to human beings (with psychology, psychiatry, etc.) or relate to ethology by relying on the study of the behavior of different species in the face of stress (in nature or on farms or in domestic animal), or on laboratory experiments based on the animal model (laboratory rat or mouse most often; exposed to electric shocks, a risk of drowning or in a recent experiment with cat litter Individuals are more or less vulnerable to the same stress, in part for genetic reasons.According to a recent study (published August 11, 2014), 334 genes are involved in the rats most sensitive to post-traumatic stress.
Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman, in 1984 define stress as a "transaction between the person and the environment" in which the situation is assessed by the individual as overwhelming his resources and being able to endanger his well-being.
The same year, Crespy qualifies stress as a generator of pathologies. It mobilizes the entire organism to provide a response to environmental attacks. This mobilization, if it is often imposed, will gradually lead to wear and deterioration of the organs and functions concerned.
In fact, it is the double perception of a state of divergence between a request for adaptation at a given moment and the capacity to cope with it. It is an expenditure of energy. It can be positive or negative.
Work related to the use of the A-stress method in cancer patients was published in 2010 in Sweden.
First of all let's see how stress manifests in humans
The mechanism of stress in humans
A stressful event causes a chain reaction that begins in the brain and results in the production of cortisol by the adrenal glands. Cortisol then activates in return two areas of the brain: the cerebral cortex so that it reacts to the stressful stimulus (flight, attack, immobilization, compensation…) and the hippocampus, which will calm the reaction. If the stress is too much or if it is prolonged, the hippocampus saturated with cortisol can no longer ensure regulation. Cortisol invades the brain and sets up depression. The affected areas are primarily the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, and prefrontal cortex.
SGA, or the three successive stages of stress
According to Hans Selye, the stress syndrome evolves by following three successive stages.
These three phases constitute the General Adaptation Syndrome or SGA.
- "Alarm reaction": the defense forces are mobilized
- This is the beginning of the danger or threat. The body begins to develop a series of physiological and psychological alterations that predispose it to face the situation.
- The sympathetic nervous system is activated
- Physiological changes occur to “fight or flee”
- "Resistance stage": adaptation to the stressor
- Adaptation phase to the stressful situation
- Physiological changes take place in the body to ensure the distribution of resources
- The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activates
- Energy saving occurs: sexual and reproductive activity decreases
- If an adaptation takes place, there will be consequences such as: a decrease in the general resistance of the organism, a decrease in the performance of the person, a lower tolerance to frustration, etc.
- "Stage of exhaustion": inexorably reached if the stressor is sufficiently powerful and acts for a long time.
- A loss of the body's ability to resist and adapt occurs
- Diseases can arise because of the lack of adaptation: gastrointestinal ulcers, hypertension, myocardial infarction and nerve damage.
… And a possible recovery or resilience phase.
Stress is a "reaction of the organism to an aggression by a physical, psychic, emotional agent causing an imbalance which must be compensated by a work of adaptation".
It can be harmful or sometimes useful, even essential. Indeed, it has been observed that a minimum of stress is necessary to increase the performance of an individual, we speak of “good” stress or “eustress”. But too much stress causes the opposite effects, we speak here of "bad" stress or "distress".
Sophrology is a psycho-bodily method, created in 1960 by the psychologist Alfonso CAYCEDO.
Alfonso Caycedo was inspired by different practices, such as: progressive relaxation, the Coué method, Autogenic training, phenomenology, zen, yoga or even hypnosis.
Sophrology helps you develop your serenity and your well-being through techniques of relaxation and activation of the body and mind. Anyone looking to improve their existence and develop well-being and relaxation can practice it. Specific sessions can be offered to young children, adolescents or people with reduced mobility.
The four principles in sophrology aim to guide the sophrologist in order to develop consciousness, whether for the sophrologist himself or for his clients.
These principles are:
- Objective reality (seeing things as they are).
- The integration of the body diagram (knowing your body through feelings and analysis)
- Positive action (any impact on the body affects the mind - any impact on the mind affects actions).
- Adaptability (adapting to what happens in everyday life in order to keep a positive state of mind).
The practice of sophrology aims to reconnect you to your body diagram, your sensations, your capacities, to develop your perception of the positive in your life.
Sophrology is a personal development tool, not a medicine, it does not cure. It is used by many athletes, artists or leaders to better control their stress or pressure.
Sophrology helps develop self-knowledge, self-confidence and improve daily life.
Sophrology is effective in supporting the resolution of mild sleep disorders. Difficulties falling asleep or awakening at night in connection with a stressful lifestyle for example.
Sophrology teaches you to let go of annoyances, to better manage your emotions. It helps you be better prepared for important events. On the professional level, sophrology makes it possible to better cope with stressful situations, such as overwork, loss of meaning, fear of organizational changes. For managers, it is a tool for improving team cohesion and group work.
On the pains
The pain, whether the result of somatization or of a disruption of the body can be better supported with the help of sophrology.
It is also known to help people suffering from tinnitus.
Even if sophrology will not make the pain disappear, it will be better supported by the person who suffers from it.
Many hospitals will call on a sophrologist to monitor their patients, especially in the event of chronic pain.
Adolescence is a period of transition which is often accompanied by discomfort. This can manifest itself in different ways: difficulty sleeping, lack of concentration, strong emotions, stress, or lack of self-confidence. Sophrology allows adolescents to approach this stage of life more calmly by working on the acceptance of the physical and emotional changes they cross.
Sophrology helps to better experience the effects that accompany aging. It brings relief and relaxation in cases of chronic pain. It also helps in accepting physiological changes.
Sensations, perception and feelings, the nutrients of sophrology
First of all let's define these three words to distinguish them well
Sensations are the things in our environment that are recorded by our 5 senses. Sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste.
For example we will express a sensation like this: “I can smell the pen in my hand”, “I can hear the tap dripping”, “I smell a flower”
Perception is the interpretation of a sensation.
For example: “the pen I'm holding is light”, “the sound of the dripping tap is light”, “the smell of flowers is intense”
Feeling is the physical expression of emotion.
For example: “I got goosebumps when I grabbed this pen”, “I am relaxed when I hear the slowly flowing drops”, “I am nauseous from the scent of the flowers”.
Perception, sensation and feelings are different and play complementary roles in how we interpret our world.
Information related to sensation is transmitted to the brain in raw form. It provides information on heat, color, for example.
Perception then comes into play and provides the brain with additional information on intensity, quantity, shape and weight.
The brain will associate an emotion with the perception and this one will be expressed by the feeling.
The two practices are different and complementary.
The fact of working on the cause of a problem, as is the case with hypnosis, can be disturbing for the subject who does not wish to relive situations likely to bring back traumas linked to it.
The fact of (re) connecting to one's body brings a different dimension to the work carried out with the subject, who becomes aware of the latter's role in his well-being.
Sophrology is not directive in the visualizations suggested to the subject. She does not try to influence him, he moves at his own pace with his own visualizations. This can confuse the person looking for a quick solution but who is not inclined to the idea that it comes from within and that it is therefore up to them to find it at their own pace.
Everyone should choose the therapy they are most comfortable with.
Hypnosis is one of the sources of sophrology, however the two practices have evolved since the creation of sophrology so that today they are distinct and comparable in every way.
The main differences between the two approaches
Hypnosis is based on a purely psychic practice while sophrology is based on a psycho-corporal method in which the body and the psychic have the same importance.
In hypnosis we work on the unconscious while in sophrology we work on the conscious.
The visualization techniques of hypnosis often go much further than sophrology.
Sophrology works on the 3 structures of the being: mind, body and emotions. Hypnosis does not work directly on the body.
Sophrology helps the subject find their own solutions where hypnosis is more directive.
Sophrology is more person-centered support. We will try to relieve the ailments without necessarily acting on the main cause. Unlike hypnosis, which is support focused on the problem. We will try to deal with the problem at the source, and not deal with the consequences.
Sophrology develops the subject's autonomy. She teaches him different techniques that he can reproduce alone during his personal training. Hypnosis requires the intervention of a professional (except in the case of self-hypnosis)
In hypnosis we will use metaphors while in sophrology we are in the body diagram as it is experienced by becoming aware of our sensations.
In sophrology the exercises are practiced regularly, in session or independently, there or in hypnosis the sessions are punctual and with the practitioner.
In hypnosis the subject is passive, he listens to the practitioner. In sophrology the subject is active, he performs the exercises with the practitioner.
From a philosophical point of view, hypnosis is seen as a technique of influence, relationship, investigation, inspiration and healing. While sophrology is perceived as a cultural movement that claims to gradually bring human beings to a better knowledge of themselves.
Sophrology and relaxation are different in their approach, their techniques and their objectives
En relaxation, the person is lying down or sitting comfortably. In sophrology, we are seated or standing so as to avoid falling asleep. Relaxation is a passive method, just like a massage, while the objective of sophrology is to make the person actor of its change and its evolution. Sophrology offers tools to act, to transform.
In addition, the relaxation sought in relaxation therapy goes beyond simple muscle relaxation. It is much deeper: it should help maintain the body in good health, also playing on the organs and blood circulation. The work is done at the bodily, emotional and mental level, that is to say in the different structures of consciousness. Thus, if relaxation in relaxation is an objective, in sophrology, it is a means. This is the prerequisite for the construction work carried out thanks to sophrology.
On the other hand, sophrology uses relaxation as a tool, a tool that brings about mental and muscular relaxation absolutely necessary for the work that follows, a work that focuses on the very functioning of the person.
The differences in the course of a session
- Duration of the session: 1h to 1h30
- Sitting, standing and lying positions.
- Presence of background music.
- No verbalization of the experience.
- Duration of the session: between 1h and 1h30.
- Sitting and standing positions.
- No background music to avoid the risk of drowsiness and a “numbness” of consciousness which is not favorable to maintaining attention.
- A “reading” time is planned at the end of the session, it allows those who wish to express their experiences, their feelings and their possible comments or questions. A notebook is also used so that the practitioner (called a “sophroniser”) can write down the essentials to remember from the session. What is expressed (orally or / and in writing) then becomes conscious and is therefore more easily usable.
- Breathing exercises
- Gentle movements, joint "rusting" ...
- Various relaxation techniques: autogenic training, Jacobson, Vittoz, self-massage, visualizations ...
- Visualizations: letting go, mental relaxation
- Basic sophronization (feeling your body without tension)
- Dynamic relaxation (in particular of movements carried out with full lung retention) leading to awareness of the body in tension and the relaxed body, sensations linked to the body in motion and at rest, shape, weight, pain, the 5 senses ...
- Visualizations (static techniques: futurization, anticipation, imagination…).
- Breathing exercises
- Eliminate tension
- Relax both body and mind
- Achieve a state of well-being
- Take a break, recharge your batteries, recover
- To manage stress
- Listen and become aware of your body
- Accept the phenomena that arise (sensations but also thoughts, emotions, images, etc.) without a priori, without judgment.
- Restore the link between body and mind.
- Recognize yourself in your specificities, accept yourself
- Being in the "here and now"
- Discover and / or improve your physical, emotional, mental potential ...
- Develop your concentration skills.
- To manage stress
Mindfulness meditation has its origins in the teachings of Buddhist wisdom.
Jon Kabat-Zinn created in 1979 a protocol intended for patients subjected to heavy treatments, then he extended it to as many people as possible.
It is about focusing your attention on the present moment without passing judgment on the experience in progress.
Focus attention on breathing and listening to the five senses and remain stable in the face of everything that is happening in the moment
Mindfulness meditation versus relaxation therapy
The two practices have common origins stemming from Buddhist meditation. They both aim to develop the autonomy of the person in his life path.
It is practice that will generate the change in both methods. Feedback allows us to put words into the experience during the session.
Mindfulness meditation stops at observing your breathing and welcoming your feelings and thoughts in the present moment, while relaxation therapy goes further by integrating visualizations of life situations in order to impact our perception. The Sophrology brings us in practice towards an intention to mobilize its resources, develop its capacities.
Meditation is located exclusively in the present moment while sophrology, during sophronizations can bring us into contact with the future or the past.
Mindfulness meditation versus relaxation
Meditation takes place through the mind unlike relaxation which takes place above all through the body. The relaxation aims at the muscular relaxation which is necessary for a total psychic relaxation. While it is certain that meditating allows one to enter a form of calm and relaxation, the reverse is not necessarily true.
Yes ! It is quite possible to practice sophrology in visio. It is necessary to have suitable equipment so that the practitioner can see the person (s) present during the session and check their reactions during the session.
For my part, I made the choice to offer sophrology sessions face-to-face, visio or mixed (I offer the possibility of having one person face-to-face and the others in video during certain group sessions)
I receive at Nice therapeutic center for individual relaxation therapy sessions, I also offer sophrology in business, in co-working spaces or during events.
Sophrology is a journey. You advance at your own pace.
It is difficult to predict how many sessions you will need on a given problem. However, it is important to note that:
- Habits are learned through repetition.
- Involvement in practice influences the outcome.
Sophrology is not a miracle method to cure ailments like a Doliprane treats a headache. During your journey you connect to your being, to your sensations. Then you become aware of your capacities and your resources, you develop them so that they accompany you in all circumstances. So you are ready to live difficult situations more calmly and leave behind what is preventing you from being well.
I chose to join two federations, ICF for coaching and the Chambre syndicale de la sophrologie, both of which require membership to a specific charter.
The values of ethics, respect and benevolence which are the basis of a healthy relationship between practitioner and client are those to which I adhere.
In addition, my practice is supervised in both disciplines.