Stress is a part of our everyday life. We cannot escape stress, but we can learn how to manage it. Stress coaching is about managing your stress so that it doesn’t affect you negatively. A stress coach’s job is to make you better at dealing with stress so that you can live a better and fulfilled life.
Often, we cannot understand and recognize that we are under high levels of stress. This can have a huge impact on our health and on our friends and family around us. People often take small vacations and trips to destress and unwind. Though this technique is very beneficial, it is an expensive solution!
It is also not a long-term solution since we can’t keep having a vacation every time we experience stressful situations in life. The best way to deal with stress is to avoid situations of stress! That’s where a stress coach comes in! A stress coach can help in avoiding situations of stress altogether.
What is stress coaching & who is a stress coach?
Human are very social. We interact with others and go through different situations in our everyday lives. These situations make us feel things, give us thoughts and affect our bodies. For every situation, we respond with our thoughts and feelings differently. Stress is a combination of our thoughts, feelings and physical reactions to situations around us.
Everyone has had to deal with stress at one point of time or other. Stress affects everyone. The main sources of stress are our jobs, relationships and health. But not all kinds of stress are bad for you. Some situations of stress can help you! For example, when you have to stick to a deadline, stress can help you stay on track and finish your assignment.
Sometimes, our reactions to different situations may be negative. This will start affecting the quality of our lives. This is the part where a stress coach comes in! Stress coaching is about learning how to manage your stress in a way that doesn’t affect the quality of your life.
A good stress coach will help you look at the situation from a bird’s-eye view. Stress coaching is not a quick fix solution for your problems. A stress coach helps you reflect on your situation and find clarity in your life. Stress management coaches assist you in making plans on how to reduce stress and live a healthy life. With stress coaching, your chances of dealing with stressful situations are higher!
Why you should invest in a stress coach
Stress coaching is not just about addressing stress in your life. Stress coaching helps us manage our stress in a healthy way. Stress can affect our personal and professional lives. A stress coach will help you live a healthy life.
Sometimes, high levels of stress for a long time can lead to burnout. Burnout can lead to health problems. Through stress coaching, you can address your stress before it leads to burnout.
The job of a stress coach is to help their clients understand the source of their stress. They help in identifying the symptoms and triggers. This makes a huge difference in how we think about stress. Once we understand the source of the problem, it is easy to design a stress management plan.
A good stress coach will also help you achieve your goals for stress management. They can suggest various methods through which you can stick to your stress management plan. They will inspire you to sustain your plan and achieve your goals.
A good stress management plan is highly personalized. It is very specific to the client. So, the solutions to beat stress will also be tailored to the needs of the client. Still, stress coaches can use various models for coaching such as GROW and FUEL.
I have written about these models in detail before;
Ask you stress coach – What causes stress?
There is no single answer to this. Many factors cause stress. Every person is different. So, every person’s source of stress is different too! A good stress coach knows this. What can be considered as stress by one person may not be stress for another person.
Often, family and relationships are the major source of stress. If a person’s parents are difficult, going to Thanks-giving dinners can be very stressful. Situations like divorce or child custody are also highly stressful. People who are living with chronic illnesses also experience stress. Single parents have a high level of responsibility and can experience stress too.
Many people experience stress because of pressures at work. It can be due to a deadline or because they are dealing with a new project. Having a poor work-life balance is also responsible for stress. Many people who are experiencing financial pressures also feel high levels of stress.
Sometimes, our own thoughts and feelings can cause stress! The fear of being rejected or failing can lead to stressful situations. Shame and disappointment can also cause stress. The pressure to succeed and achieve can end up having a negative effect!
Everyone reacts to stressful situations in life differently. Some common symptoms of stress include anxious thoughts and difficulty sleeping. You can have a sense of an overwhelming feeling and tension in muscles. Your food habits can change and you can put on weight. Chest pain is also a common symptom of stress. Many patients of stress also complain of feeling tired and sleepy all the time.
Resource for Stress Coaches – Albrecht’s Four Types of Stress
Dr Karl Albrecht, a management consultant and speaker in California, wrote a book, ‘Stress and the Manager,’ in 1979. In his book, he spoke about four common types of stresses that we can experience.
These days, we have more things to do and very little time. Often, our success in the workplace also depends on how we use our time. In such a situation, it is common to worry about reaching to work on time or rushing to finish a project. Time-based stressful situations can make us feel inadequate. We all fear that we will fail to achieve our goals. But, if your response towards such a pressure is negative, then you should hire a stress coach to help you out!
To deal with time-based stressful situations, we require a good time management plan. This is not just about having a great to-do list. Stress coaching helps us prioritize our time better. We often get caught up in urgent tasks and that leaves us with little or no time for personal growth. A good work-life balance is very important for living a fulfilled life.
I have always found Eisenhower’s Priority Matrix to be very useful in time management.
Read: Introducing The Eisenhower Matrix (there’s also a neat little video in here!)
The fear of failing in any task or project is a huge source of worry for many people. It is very common to feel tension and worry right before a huge event in life. That sense of worry is so high that you cannot focus on your everyday routine. There is always that worry and tension in the background that something is bound to go wrong. Such pressure is not healthy and can affect us in the long run.
To manage anticipatory stress, we need to first understand the source of that worry. A good stress management coach will help you recognize that the future has many possibilities. It is possible, to a certain extent, to control the outcomes of your actions. This can be achieved along with a stress coach to guide you on the way.
Addressing the root cause of the worry, that is fear of failure, can go a long way in managing the situation. For example, consider that you are worried about a big meeting coming up next week. It is an important meeting, and it worries you that you will fail and disappoint people around you. Now, to manage such a situation, one would ideally put in extra hours to prepare the presentation. One would want to put in extra effort to be ready for all questions.
But, what if, no matter how much you prepare, you still feel a great sense of worry and fear for your presentation next week? The real reason behind your stress can also be a lack of confidence. A good stress coach will be able to identify if your stress is based in time management or your fear about the situation.
As the name suggests, situational stress happens when you are in some situation that you are unable to handle. These situations can also be emergency situations such as fire or natural disasters. Usually, situations that cause situational stress happen suddenly and we have little control over it.
Common reasons for situational stress are conflicts and misunderstandings. A good stress coach will help you understand your situation better and suggest remedies. Conflict management skills are very important to deal with situational stress.
In situations of conflict, our body naturally responds in certain ways. Every individual will have a different way of reacting physically and emotionally. For example, anger is a common reaction for many people. But anger is often unhealthy to yourself and to others around you.
A good stress coach will help you learn how to manage your emotions. Once you are in control of your emotions, you can deal with any situational conflict.
Encounter stress comes from situations where you have to interact with certain people around you. This can happen if you don’t like those people or they are difficult to deal with. Difficult people can be unpredictable and the interaction can be problematic. There is uncertainty about how the situation will go and if there would be any conflict or not.
Encounter stress is very common in people who have anxiety and for introverts. They can get overwhelmed in interacting with many people. Having too many encounters with people can stress some people.
Encounter stress differs from situational stress or anticipatory stress. Here, the main source of stress is only with people. So, to overcome encounter stress, a good stress coach will help you improve your interpersonal skills. Learning how to improve emotional intelligence is also highly beneficial. When we understand people around us, it is easier to deal with them.
A mark of a good stress management coach is the one who can help you identify your triggers for encounter stress. Having high self-awareness will help you understand if you are getting overwhelmed. Then you can take certain actions that will restore your inner balance, such as going for a walk or deep breathing exercises.
Why do you need stress coaching in the workplace
There are many factors that can give stress to employees. Changes in the requirements of the job or a bad style of leadership can make their work life very stressful. If there is an increase in workload or short deadlines, that can cause stress. Job security is also a major factor that can lead to stress.
If an employee already has poor mental health well-being, then the chances of feeling stressed at their job is higher. Their lifestyle habits and the kind of support system that have also makes a difference.
To deal with stress, people turn to activities such as drinking or smoking. Long-term use of such things can lead to addiction! If we do not address it on time, it can lead to physical and mental health problems.
When employees are stressed, it affects their personal lives. They can experience job burnout and it can affect their interpersonal relationships. They can get sleep disorders. All these things contribute to employees not performing well at their job.
In extreme cases, it can lead to violence in the workplace too!
Lack of coping skills also makes it difficult for employees to deal with stress. That’s where a stress coach comes in! A good stress management coach works on increasing an employee’s coping skills. The purpose is to make employees empowered enough to deal with stress so that they have a better work life balance.
A stress coach helps the employee to identify the reasons why they are experiencing stress. Both the coach and the employee then make a plan to address those reasons. There are many techniques that can help employees increase their coping skills. My favourite tool is the Motivational Interviewing Technique.
I have discussed it at length in my blog about mental health coaching.
15 Powerful Coaching Questions for a Stress Coach
A sign of a good coach is the kind of questions they ask. A good coach always asks good questions. I have some questions that you can use and get started as a stress coach. Many of these questions complement the technique of motivational interviewing.
What do you think is stopping you from achieving your goal of … ?
If you would not be worried of failure, what would you do?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you of managing this?
Have you felt like this before?
If not now, then when?
What are your concerns about our planned approach?
How is your situation affecting your plans for your future?
What is your gut feeling about this?
What is the worst that can happen?
Do you fear being judged if you’d fail?
Is your decision affecting others around you?
What are the emotional costs of your decision?
What will be the financial costs if you’re unable to achieve your goals?
What is that one thing you need right now to succeed?
What is the best outcome of this situation according to you?
There are many more questions that a stress coach can ask during a coaching session. This list is to get you started! Depending upon your client’s needs and goals, you can ask more questions. Every coaching session is different. Every coaching conversation is different. Because every client is different!
Ask your stress coach–how to deal with stress?
There are a lot of ways in which one can deal with stress. A good stress management coach must know all these methods and use the best ones for their clients. Every coaching situation is different and clients have different needs. This depends on their needs and goals. It is important that a coach understands what their clients want out of the coaching session. They can then suggest the best option that will suit their clients.
Ask for help
The first step towards dealing with stress is to accept that we need help. It is not possible to do everything by ourselves. Our friends and family are usually a great source to start with. Even if it is small or for a short duration, a helping hand always works wonders! More people means lesser pressure on you!
Manage your time better
Lack of time on our hands can make us very stressful. Time management is a great method to deal with stress! Many times, we feel that we need to be perfect and deadlines can make it difficult to be perfect. Once we learn how to prioritize our tasks and activities, we can take control of our day and reduce our stress.
Meditation and yoga
When there is high levels of stress, it is very important to feel relaxed. This will prevent burnout. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are very good methods to relax our minds.
We hear a lot about self-care and it means taking care of yourself. Any task or activity that makes you feel better can be a part of our self-care routine. Whether it is reading a book or binge-watching your favourite show. A nice hot water bath and a good vacation counts as self-care too!
Keep track of your emotions
For some people, maintaining a daily journal is a good way for them to understand when and how they feel stressed. Keeping a journal makes it easy to identify patterns and come up with solutions to break this pattern.
Exercise for better physical health
Having a better approach to physical health and well-being also helps in reducing stress. Having better sleep cycles and regular exercise helps in boosting a person’s mood.
Avoid addictive substances
Alcohol, smoking, and drugs are harmful to our bodies. When used for a long time, they can create many diseases in our bodies. Plus, depending on such addictive substances is not a healthy way to deal with stress.
Address the root cause of your stress.
While we can exercise and work towards sleeping better, they may not always work. The root cause of their stress needs to be addressed. Some root causes can be politics in the office or a difficult manager. Such factors make it difficult for people to deal with stress.
In such situations, a stress coach must work on skills that will address the root cause. For example, knowing how to manage conflicts can address issues like politics in the office. Skills like problem solving help. Being assertive and clear in communication can help in dealing with a difficult manager.
Be kind to yourself.
Our efforts to be perfect all the time are leaving us stressed! When we wonder if we are ‘good enough’, we are adding on to our stress levels. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel better. Forgive yourself for mistakes that you have made, the world will seem so much better after that.