As Health and Wellness Coaches we know that our main focus is supporting people in adopting healthier habits that will improve their physical health. Right? And it is tempting for outsiders to think that our work focuses purely on nutrition, physical activity and maybe sleep habits. But the reality is, we work in a much wider space.
Let’s review the model we learn. Our job is to find out –
What a client wants?
Why is that important?
What is getting in the way?
The first two of key to helping a client change. Unless they know where they’re heading and why they’re going there, they are unlikely to move forward. But let’s consider the last factor.
Do you recall the four categories of common obstacles? Barriers can be –
And we all agree that it is helpful to recognise that any one of these areas could present a challenge.
My belief is that the majority of our work needs to focus on helping people overcome those obstacles. Not just work out what changes they need to make, but base those changes on the things that are stopping them. And guess what? Which category do you think is most commonly reported? Well, actually all of them. But the commonality might become clear when we take a look at these examples:
Situational – clients might have multiple responsibilities with childcare, aged parents, work etc.
Behavioural – clients may use social media before bed to unwind from the day – result? Poor sleep
Cognitive – clients tell themselves that they are out of control, can never get on top of things, are not good enough!
Emotional – out of the above thinking comes emotions like fear, anxiety and hopelessness
What is the end result of all of the above? STRESS! The important point here is that unless we can get control of our mental wellbeing, our physical wellbeing will not be good. Unless we can help clients calm their minds, they will not be able to harness the resources they need to succeed.
So where do we start?
Step 1 – recognise that a client’s mental state is part of our work. That does not mean becoming psychologists or psychotherapists. It means listening for and observing signs that a client is struggling with how they are feeling. And enquiring and acknowledging those feelings.
Step 2 – find out what it would take for them to feel somewhat better. We often presume that if they could achieve their (health) goals they would automatically feel better, but it is unlikely that this will occur until they get their mental wellbeing under control
Step 3 – help them implement small changes that will help calm their minds now. It may be something as simple as rethinking (or reframing) a situation. Or perhaps enlisting help from someone in their circle. You may be that person, but on your own, not enough.
Step 4 – support them in feeling better about their situation as it is now and recognising what is in their power to change and what is not. This conversation may uncover some previously hidden possibilities.
• Never forget that your ideas for them may not be as good as their own. Trust their ability to become self-aware and support them in trying out new ways of doing things, or thinking about things.
• Normalise their stress but don’t downplay it. These are challenging times, but life will continually throw up challenges. Come armed with your toolbox of experiments, not solutions.
• Show them your belief that they can, if not change, then tweak their mindset. Sometimes the smallest adjustments can create the biggest wins!
• Always remember that a health and wellness coach covers mental wellbeing as well as physical wellbeing.
Note: if you feel that you could benefit from some more training in this area, why not enquire about our Understanding Stress (for you and your client) programme.