Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

Connecting with Clients Online




Even though we live in a digital world, there are so many businesses that still deliver services in a face to face environment. 

In the past week, I have spoken with personal trainers, yoga teachers, nutritionists and physiotherapists, many of whom have lost their job, their clients and their income. 
They are wondering how to pivot and cope with the unfortunate changes that have been thrust upon us, and how to keep their businesses going.
Luckily, most of those I’ve spoken with are trained Health and Wellness Coaches, so they have the capacity to pivot their delivery method and maintain their client relationships.

Coaching is one of the simplest services that you can deliver online, and it is also a much-needed service in these chaotic and uncertain times. Trained health and wellness coaches are equipped with the skills, structures and tools to help our clients stay calm despite the chaos, to adapt to change, to feel organised, to maintain some positive wellbeing habits, and to develop their own plan for moving forward. 

As a result, most of the health professionals I’ve spoken to are pivoting to online service delivery now, with a focus on interactive wellness workshops, group coaching sessions and 1:1 personal coaching sessions, all delivered via online platforms.

Let’s look at how coaching can be delivered online, and what sorts of platforms are available to help us deliver our services.

Delivering Coaching Online

Since coaching is based on individual or group conversation, it is easily translatable into the online environment.

Most coaches who live remotely or work nationally are meeting clients simply via their phone or one of the many online meeting platforms. 

They are having those important, real-time conversations that help clients develop their own strategies to start or maintain positive lifestyle changes. 

It’s easy to coach on the phone, but if you use a meeting platform like Zoom, you also get all of the body language cues and connection that come with a face to face appointment. This is great for my clients who are very kinaesthetic or interactive.

A lot of my clients like writing, and you can also coach via email in some cases! 
If clients need accountability or access to resources between live conversations, they can be provided by email, text, messenger, whatsapp, a Facebook group, or a membership portal. 

Best Online Coaching Platforms

For live meetings, there are several platforms that are easy to use and have free or low cost options. Here is a selection that suit most coaching businesses.

1. Zoom (read more)
A real-time online meeting platform that allows you to meet with groups or 1:1’s for coaching or interactive workshops.
Register for an online account and download the software, then you can meet instantly or schedule meetings, the platform is stable and well-known.

With the free version you can have 1:1 meetings with your clients for as long as you like; they can enter the meeting via a zoom meeting link or they can dial a local number to call in.
You can meet with cameras on, and can also share your screen (e.g. slides, images) or run a whiteboard and use a chat box. 

If you want to run groups of more than 3 for over 40 minutes, you’d need to go to the PRO (paid) version, which also allows you hold meetings for up to 100 participants, and to record the meetings. Higher plans are available for enterprises.

2. Skype (read more)
A real-time online meeting platform that may be more familiar to some of your clients.

You can meet up to 50 people in video calls or voice calls. You can record your calls and also use an encrypted instant messaging function.
If your clients aren’t on Skype, you can call landline and mobiles or send SMS by purchasing Skype credit. For a fee, you can also get a dedicated Skype phone number that includes voicemail, call forwarding and caller ID. 

3. Coviu Telehealth (read more)
Coviu is similar to the above platforms but is used mostly by health practitioners who connect with ‘patients’ such as psychotherapists, GP’s, physiotherapists, and psychologists.
No software is required, it’s a simple ‘click and consult’ program – it offers ‘click and go’ video calling. 

The platform offers document sharing and an online app, and there is ‘hold music’ if your client is waiting for you to finish another meeting.
Meeting quality is similar to Zoom and may be more reliable than Skype.

Prices for Allied health start at $19.95 per month.

4. Webinar Jam (read more)
Similar to zoom, a real-time online meeting platform that allows you to talk to, screenshare with and live chat with your audience.

In the Basic version ($499 per year) you can meet up to 500 people in video calls for up to 2 hours long and can have up to 2 different presenters on your account.
Calls are recorded automatically, and you get customisable registration pages, emails and SMS, and you can plug in a payment gateway to offer paid webinars to your audience.

Summary
In these times of social distances, and beyond that into reaching more people in your business, coaching via online platforms is a great way to go.

There are a lot of meeting platforms out there, but the four listed in this article have had good reviews.
My personal favourite is Zoom because I find it easiest to use, it’s the best value for my needs, and it’s reported to be more stable with fewer dropouts than other platforms.

Now, it’s over to you.

How could you pivot your business and transition into delivering a valuable online service, anywhere in the world?

How to run a business in stressful times


 
Everyone responds differently to external pressures. The way you respond depends on your personality, your thought processes and your personal circumstances.
But at the core of things, stress starts in your mind. Your perception (thoughts) determines your resilience. Resilience simply means the resources and capacity you have to cope with the circumstances around you.  

When your resilience is low, it affects your ability to make decisions, to think clearly and to be fully present with your clients - all of which are obviously important in relationship-based businesses like coaching.

When you’re running a coaching business in stressful times, there are different approaches you can take to support your wellbeing and to feel at peace with your business decisions. 

Your best approach depends on how resilient or stressed you feel. Most people will fit into one of three categories.

Three Categories of Business Owner Resilience

Category 1 – these people are feeling resilient, seeing opportunities to be of service, and feeling ready, willing and able to reach out and help others. People in this category may have fewer external pressures, may be more extroverted, or could be people who have done a lot of their own coaching around beliefs and behaviours. In any case, they have the resilience to be able to cope with stressful times.

Category 2 – these people are feeling fearful or overwhelmed, seeing roadblocks, and feeling unable to cope with the responsibilities of both business and life. These people may have more challenging circumstances, may be more introverted, or are yet to master the skills of emotional balance. They are unlikely to have enough resilience to cope with stressful times.

Category 3 – these people want to help and are seeing opportunities but becoming easily overwhelmed. They may be managing internal and external pressures but are close to capacity. They may have some skills around emotional balance and some level of stability in life. This means they feel resilient at times and are able to cope yet can fall back into overwhelm. Their resilience is ‘inconsistent’.

These are generalisations but they may help you identify yourself for the purposes of making rational decisions about what to do with your business.

Let’s look at some approaches for each category.

Business Approaches for Stressful Times

If you’re in Category 1, seize the day! Despite stressful times, you are best positioned to continue running your business or even expanding it, so that you can help others.

You may offer services that help others to;
  • Get some respite (e.g. online retreat)
  • Cope better (e.g. plans and strategies)
  • Maintain positive habits (e.g. visions and goals, accountability groups)
  • Develop new habits or routines (e.g. challenges or programs)
  • Create more joy, fun, freedom (e.g. uplifting classes or events)
Remember that showing up for others in stressful times takes time, energy and effective planning.

You may tend to attract clients who have similar resilience to you but also be mindful of others who are struggling and may have less capacity to cope with higher energy activities or sharing of information in a group setting.

If you are in Category 2, your primary concern is your own wellbeing, stability and your loved ones. 

In stressful times, you probably have limited capacity to truly be of service to your clients.

You may like to define a period (e.g. 2 - 6 months) to focus on your own physical and mental wellbeing, during which time you:
Close your business temporarily (e,g, block your calendar)
Subcontract another coach to service your clients
Reduce business activities to a minimum (e.g. working with a few select clients)
Consider Centrelink or other options for financial support if needed. Business offsets, grants or hardship payments are sometimes available.

Remember that as a business owner you may have legal obligations to clients such as coaching out their contract, refunding them, putting payments on hold or suspending memberships.

There is also the common courtesy of emailing your clients to let them know that you are taking time off, and to let them know what to expect from you in the interim.

Maybe that’s nothing, or you may continue newsletters, or you may schedule social media posts, podcasts or have a VA do that for you. Just make sure you tell your clients how they can stay connected or when you’ll be back in touch with them.

If you’re highly stressed then it’s likely you’ll be in decision fatigue, so you may find it easiest to discuss a strategy with your business coach or mentor to help you develop a clear plan going forward.

If you’re in Category 3, then your biggest priority will be emotional balance. 

That’s because you may feel motivated to make offers in the heat of the moment, or be super responsive to clients, but then realise you lack the energy or capacity to follow through with an appropriate level of service. 

You actually have the capacity to truly help people right now, but only if you are looking after your own wellbeing and being clear on how your capacity may change from day to day.

Your best approach will probably be to:
  • create a clear schedule of work and non-work activities and stick to it (e.g. a weekly plan)
  • reduce the number of clients you see each week, and set a maximum number of sessions per day
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when a client asks for help rather than just responding  
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when you get an impulse to offer help or run and event, rather than just rushing into action  
  • Automate your marketing activities.
Remember that a successful business is consistent how it shows up. It under-promises and over-delivers in value, not the other way around.

If you run your business in fits and starts, it may damage your reputation. You’re better off to dial down your activities and be consistent with them. 

SUMMARY

Those of us who serve others can fall into the trap of overhelping, overcommitting or overextending ourselves, and burning out.

The most important thing for us all as individuals is to check in with ourselves each day and reflect on how we are holding up, what our capacity is, and to maintain our own physical and mental wellbeing habits. We must do this to meet our own needs and to have the capacity to serve others.

The most important thing for any business - in good times and hard times - to be is consistent. Consistency builds a sense of trust, reliability and professionalism.

In times of stress, I encourage you to reflect on your resilience and make a decision as to what your business approach will be. Decide how long you will do this approach for. (E.g. 3 months? 4 months?) then take the appropriate actions.

You can revise your plan at any time but definitely at the end of your defined time period and get clear on how you’re feeling and what you will do next.

If you need support with your business in stressful times, these resources may help.

Summary of state-by-state stimulus measures

Australian Tax Office information for COVID 19

Business support for sole traders

Small Business NSW (includes info on financial hardship and bank loan deferment)

Business QLD (includes information on economic relief, payroll tax relief,  power bill relief and support facts)

Business Victoria (includes different support options including low cost business mentoring)

Telstra small business support
 
Tips for coping with COVID anxiety (Psychology.org, includes a list of resources)

11 Step Brain Sweep


Today we share a short podcast from Habitology on the 11 Step Brain Sweep.

This is simple process to clear heightened emotions and help you clear mental clutter. This 11 step process can be used to work through any difficult emotional feeling, when you are really in the thick of things.

Listen to the podcast below where Melanie will talk you through this process. 


Positivity Practices for Difficult Times




Right now, a lot of people want to feel happier, less anxious, calmer and generally to be able to cope better with these challenging times.

The great news is that we have a variety of tools available to help us get there, courtesy of Positive Psychology.

Dr Barbara Fredrickson started the positivity movement with her initial research in 1998. Her theories and models have seen an explosion of debate and further study into what makes us happy and feel more positive.

One aspect of Barbara Fredrickson’s positivity research is the of positive emotions – a key part of happiness and wellbeing. This theory involves two parts:
  1. Positive emotions have a broadening effect – they allow us to be intentional, creative and agile.
  2. Positive emotions have a building effect – when we broaden our perspectives and actions, we build lasting physical, intellectual, psychological and social resources – in other words, resilience.
People who are happy have many positive traits such as better coping mechanisms, a longer life and better health.

To sum it up, positivity underpins success in any are of life and makes the journey to get there easier. But it also helps us manage the difficult times more effectively, to build our resources and resilience, to cope better and to stay calmer.

Positivity Practices

Here are some practices that can help you to start reducing negativity and to start increasing positivity, too. A good starting point is to pick one or two of these that are attractive to you and to use them once or twice this week.

Reducing Negativity
  • Dispute negative thinking – challenge your mental ‘catastrophes’
  • Break rumination with a healthy distraction, like a crossword
  • Work with a coach
  • Use a mindfulness practice such as meditating, being in nature, or admiring a piece of artwork, or an absorbing hobby
  • Reconstruct your day to avoid negative ‘land mines’ – circumstances that trigger negative emotions*
  • Assess your media diet 
  • Stop gossip and sarcasm
  • Find ways to deal with negative people 
          - modify the situation (e.g. behave differently)
          - attend it differently (e.g. change your focus or perspective), or
          - change what you make it mean (e.g. reframe/silver lining).

Increasing Positivity
  • Be sincere
  • Find positive meaning 
  • Savour goodness
  • Be grateful / keep a gratitude journal
  • Perform an act of kindness
  • Follow your passions
  • Dream about your future/connect with your why/vision
  • Use your strengths
  • Connect with others
  • Connect with nature
  • Open your mind and heart
There are many easy-to-use practices that can help you to manage your emotions in difficult times, and to feel more positive. Which ones will you try this week?

How to be resilient in uncertain and stressful times




Health and Wellness Coach and WCA graduate, Jason Nikakis from Vital Lifestyle Coaching shares his strategies on increasing self care and managing resilience in this current health climate.

As a health and wellbeing coach I help people build their physical, mental and emotional resources to meet life challenges. Over the last month I have been deploying all that I have learnt in the last 30 years of working in health and fitness. This has been identifying what is within my circle of control, taking action and calling on those resources that have me be as resilient as I can, in the face of uncertainty.

Some of you may already know that I have been amidst a family health crisis, with both parents currently in hospital, a wife that has a chronic health condition (reliant on immune suppressing medication) and the emerging uncertainty of COVID 19. I have had a few sleepless nights to say the least! I have also made it a non negotiable, to maintain and indeed increase my self- care behaviour, that has me be the most effective and resilient in these eventful times. 

Here I would like to share my top 6 strategies.

Keeping up my exercise has been essential.  I know that activity is my best prescription for managing stress. When in “fight and flight” having an outlet for my adrenalin and cortisol is essential from turning and acute event into a chronic health issue. We know keeping up exercise and a healthy lifestyle is key for managing chronic stress and it’s negative effect on our immune system. It also help me mange my mood, and allows me to think more clearly and stay solution focused. 

Maintaining “healthful” eating. Choosing foods that both nourish me and maintain health- whole foods, especially fruit and vegetables. When extremely stressed my tendency is to miss meals. Fortunately for me, my wife has been supporting me in maintaining energy and sustenance.

Mindfullness practice has been something that I have previously struggled with. Over the last 5 months I have made a conscious effort to develop a routine around mediation. What has worked for me is starting small and attaching the habit to an already existing routine. First thing in the morning when preparing my percolating coffee, I sit on my meditation stool and listen to a 10 minute guided meditation. My other strategy is to punctuate my day with a few deep belly breaths. I have also tried to link this to daily rituals, like brushing my teeth, washing my hands, or waiting for a traffic light. The benefit is that I can create some space between racing thoughts or tumultuous emotional states. This space helps me chose actions that are more in alignment with my values and gives me a sense of calm when sailing in a metaphorical stormy sea.

Maintain good sleep and restorative processes. During uncertain times keeping a routine is critical. Having good sleep hygiene and maintaining a constant bedtime and awake time is one thing I can control. Having some soothing activities that help calm a stressed and aroused state, has been important for me when trying to fall asleep. This is sometimes a hot shower, essential oils, white noise, guided mediation,  or an audio book/  podcast that takes me to a happier place.  

Do something that gives you joy. I am lucky to have an energetic and creative 4 ½ year old. There is nothing more delightful that seeing the world through his eyes. Lately building a rocket ship (photo) out of boxes and completing a jigsaw puzzle has helped me focus on other aspects of my life that are not filled with angst. If you don’t have a young child, try an activity or hobby that helps you reach a state of flow. I love to be in nature, however getting away is challenging at present. I am currently getting my nature fix by walking in the park, gardening and lying under my gum tree.

Connecting with loved ones and community. Even if you are unable to do this in person, getting on the phone or using technology like facetime or skype to share, all that is important and going on in your life. This is critical for all of us physically, mentally and emotionally. It also helps us remember that we are all in this “life experience” together and are part of a greater community.
 
Finally I always come back to this….
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”
 
One thing that is within my circle of control is choosing actions that are in alignment with my values.

At this time I stand for being: compassionate, caring, accepting, calm and healthy J

What does Group Health and Wellness Coaching have to offer?


The growing amount of research on health and wellness coaching, delivered in a person to person setting suggests that coaching can be an effective intervention for many lifestyle related diseases. (Sforzo et al, 2017, 2019). But can health and wellness coaching delivered in a group offer a valuable contribution to the field and if so, what are its strengths and what are the challenges facilitators might face?

The literature on this method of delivery is much less advanced although several papers articulate a similarly positive effect and, in some ways, a format that can potentially benefit the participants in quite unique ways to the one on one conversation most commonly held.

In 2013, Armstrong et al reported on seven programs that used a group coaching approach throughout the United States – either by telephone or in person and using both professional and peer coaches. Results showed a wide range of positive outcomes including a sense of satisfaction and increased self-efficacy, some change in lifestyle behaviours, reduced pain and in one program, gains in facilitator’s listening and goal-setting skills.

In 2019, Yocum and Lawson reported on a workplace group health coaching initiative that involved 8 employees in leadership roles over a five-session program. Outcomes showed “positive change and growth” with reductions in stress, increased self-awareness of self-identity, values and desired goals. Again, facilitators reported similar personal gains.  

A case study followed an integrative group health coaching experience with four participants over four sessions and found that even in this short time period, group members experienced an improved sense of well-being.  (Schultz and Lawson, 2020.)

The above suggests that group health coaching can provide an alternative, lower cost option for client engagement with potentially additional benefits. Out of the reports cited the following strengths were noted for group interventions:

  • Participants experienced a sense of community and great sense of responsibility to follow through on commitments
  • Less isolation
  • Learning from others’ experiences
  • Enhanced creativity  and courage to try something new
  • Authentic communication and support
  • The opportunity to provide streamlined education or information which may be harder to deliver in a one on one setting
  • The use of tools such as mindfulness and other stress reduction strategies delivered in a group setting
  • Personal growth and understanding of facilitators
  • Sense of cohesion
Of course, strengths are also tempered by challenges and some of these included:

  • Logistics of bringing people together and managing their availability
  • Whether the group should be a closed group or open for people to “drop in” (which would work against any cohesion they might have experienced meeting with the same people each session).
  • The need for group guidelines, ideally created by the group members
  • Recognition that group work is not for everyone – some may not feel comfortable sharing and others may be disruptive. The facilitator has to be skilled in managing group dynamics.
What was of interest was that all members joined the program with the aim of improving “well-being” which can sometimes seem an elusive or vague outcome for many.
One program broke down the dimensions into health relationships, security, purpose, community and environment (Schultz and Lawson, 2020.)

In the work-based group, participants developed themes which were improving life/work balance, developing stress management strategies, increasing self-care, focus on healthy living, desire for accountability and lasting change and learning tools to pass on to other staff.

Information on the even group programs showed that the health issues that were targeted included general health and well-being, survivors of stroke, chronic pain, stress, and other chronic medical conditions. (Armstrong et al, 2019.)

Although there is a great need for further research into many various aspects of group coaching programs, these articles suggest that it is definitely a promising way of using the principles of coaching to support positive change.


Armstrong, C., Wolever, R. Q., Manning, L., Elam, R., Moore, M., Frates, E. P., Duskey, H., Anderson, C., Curtis, R. L., Masemer, S., & Lawson, K. (2013). Group Health Coaching: Strengths, Challenges, and Next Steps. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(3), 95-102. https://doi.org/10.7453/gahmj.2013.019

Schultz, C. S., Stuckey, C. M., & Lawson, K. (2019). Group health coaching for the underserved: a case report. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 13(1), 3-7. https://doi.org/10.1080/17521882.2019.1656658

Sforzo, G. A., Kaye, M. P., Todorova, I., Harenberg, S., Costello, K., Cobus-Kuo, L., Faber, A., Frates, E., & Moore, M. (2017). Compendium of the Health and Wellness Coaching Literature. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(6), 436-447. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827617708562

Sforzo, G. A., Kaye, M. P., Harenberg, S., Costello, K., Cobus-Kuo, L., Rauff, E., Edman, J. S., Frates, E., & Moore, M. (2019). Compendium of Health and Wellness Coaching: 2019 Addendum. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 155982761985048. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827619850489

Yocum, S., & Lawson, K. (2019). Health Coaching Case Report: Optimizing Employee Health and Wellbeing in Organizations. Journal of Values-Based Leadership. https://doi.org/10.22543/0733.122.1266




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