Generally, we consider moving home or starting a new job as high stress moments in life, but studying for – and writing exams – probably elicits our most acute levels of anxiety. Some students have expressed feelings of doom or failure for days before an important exam. Unfortunately, the problem often goes undetected, resulting in mental health issues such as withdrawal, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, loss of motivation. And ultimately, a decline in both concentration and grades. These feelings of worthlessness and incapability, if not recognised and skilfully managed, can last a lifetime.
Some nervousness is natural and expected – and many students use their anxiety as a spur to action. A little anxiety can sharpen focus. Sometimes it can push students to put in extra effort and do better than they normally would under less stressful circumstances. However, others may turn their nervousness into debilitating feelings of dread and fear.
Once these excessive emotions set in, study becomes doubly difficult, blocked by negativity and feelings of inadequacy. And the more this pressure is felt, the less the student is able to think clearly or concentrate on studying. It becomes a vicious circle: the less the student studies, the more he or she becomes unable to halt the slide into depression and disability. Anxiety fuels anxiety.
The Sophrology Method for Tackling Exam Anxiety
Sophrology is extremely helpful in lowering anxiety and improving concentration. Designed specifically to release stress and tension, the sophrology method that brings the mind and body into balance. As the body relaxes physically, the minds eases in tandem.
Bringing the mind to a calmer state is imperative for the learning process; it clears the mind to make progress without being hindered by habitual negative thoughts that block conceptual abilities. The idea that one’s future may ride on the outcome of an exam lasting a couple of hours can be overwhelming even for the stoutest heart – but when we learn to stay in present time and manage our emotions the brain will work at optimal levels.
- Learn to breathe with consciousness. The sophrology method teaches you to breathe slowly with awareness of each breath. You become more aware of the physical sensations in your own body. This helps to move the mind’s focus from anxiety to calmness. The mind moves from solely outer concern to inner inspection.
- Body posture. Sophrology exercises teach you how to alter your body posture so that your mind does not experience stress. The posture of your body in instrumental in successfully focussing the mind on positive action and positive emotions.
- Dealing with emotions. Once you have mastered the body postures and realised how they influence your emotions you will soon easily be able to flip from anxiety to calmness, from fear to confidence. With practise you will come to realise that you are equally capable of generating positive energy by changing your body posture or changing your thoughts.
- Muscular tension. There are sophrology exercises specifically designed to reduce muscular tensions – especially those that arise from sitting hunched over books. When the muscles relax, the body arrives at a calmer sensation. Sleep quality improves – vital for building the strength and tenacity of memory – and reducing pain and headaches, and muddled thinking. Sophrology allows young people to approach challenges with greater confidence, but in a peaceful, more relaxed way, which increases the chances of success.
- An individual approach. While sophrology may sound an easy practice, it is the ingrained habit of anxiety that complicates your journey. That’s why it is very important to be well-guided by a professional sophrologist who is able to recognise individual response to tension and stress, and who will gently guide each person to find their unique balance in a way that suits them best, and which will have the most successful outcome.
- The practice of sophrology. Once you are familiar with your exercises and your journey into your body and mind, you will be able to repeat the process. And the more you do, the better the results will be. Sophrology is about dynamic relaxations and the more you practice these body/mind exercises the quicker the results.
Generally, school and study times are full of busyness and purpose: courses, homework, examinations. If you are a person who finds this onerous, tiring and a burden, then it is vital that you seek a fundamentally powerful tool like sophrology to help you re-energise your thinking. Don’t allow memory to squeeze into chaos and confusion; let it rest, take time, and fall gently into tune with your body. When the body and mind come together, extraordinary things are possible! That is the philosophy and drive behind sophrology. And the beauty is that you can use these relaxation techniques anywhere and anytime.
Each time you practice sophrology techniques, you will:
- learn to reduce negative energies like frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, and manage these emotions with greater insight and resilience
- reinforce motivation, calmness and optimism
- gain confidence in yourself and your learning capabilities
- improve attention and concentration during classes and exams
- improve memory retention
- improve sleep to relieve bodily tension and generate greater mental serenity, and feelings of wellbeing.
Sophrology: an old route to a new you
Currently becoming one of the most popular wellness trends in the world, the word ‘sophrology’ translates to the “the study of consciousness in harmony”. It is essentially a holistic system, including physical and mental exercises, which promotes health, well-being, relaxation, and alertness.
Founded in the 1960s by Alfonso Caycedo, a professor of Psychiatry and Neurology in Madrid, Sophrology was first created to treat war veterans suffering from PTSD and depression. Combining techniques from Zen, yoga, meditation and hypnosis, the system allows participants to release and redirect challenging emotions. Positive effects include: more focus, less stress, better sleep, more self-confidence, improved chronic conditions, and greater happiness.
In 2006, Dorna Revie, founded Energy Centre, the first school in the world to offer Professional Sophrology Diploma Courses in English. Sophrology Center Online, the newest of Dorna’s projects, has been established to meet the growing demand from around the world. Dorna trained in sophrology with Prof. Caycedo and was delighted to be given the go ahead to start her own school. During her more than 30 years of teaching sophrology Dorna has added theory and exercises from other disciplines that complement the Caycedian Sophrology and therefore offer more options for her students and clients. Dorna named her sophrology teachings as Sophro-Ki® Sophrology.
To find out more, please visit: www.sophrologycenteronline.com