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Why coaches take a holistic approach to life coaching

A holistic approach to life coaching involves treating you, the client as a whole person. Despite the fact that you come to sessions with a presenting complaint, there is, of course, much more to you. You bring your lifestyle, habits, character, concerns and medical history. Take the example of a stressed client with high blood pressure. A G.P. can prescribe blood pressure tablets and the blood pressure becomes under control over time. However, if the client continues to lead a stressful life, there will likely be stress-related illness taking effect elsewhere in the body and possibly lead to serious illness.

Family lying on the grass making faces

A holistic approach to life coaching involves treating you, the client as a whole person. Despite the fact that you come to sessions with a presenting complaint, there is, of course, much more to you. You bring your lifestyle, habits, character, concerns and medical history. Take the example of a stressed client with high blood pressure. A G.P. can prescribe blood pressure tablets and the blood pressure becomes under control over time. However, if the client continues to lead a stressful life, there will likely be stress-related illness taking effect elsewhere in the body and possibly lead to serious illness.

IDENTIFYING ISSUES WITHIN YOUR CONTROL

In practice, the coach is helping you identify what issues they have control over and those that you can't control. You will learn, through coaching, to take responsibility for the aspects of your life that you can control, for example, your health, because you want to be in a good place to cope with what life throws at you when coaching ends. It also helps you develop a positive response to difficulties that you face and to realise that you do have control over many areas of your life. Family and friends can be an additional support though, as you make changes in your life.

THE ROLE OF STRESS IN THE CONTEXT OF COACHING

There are a number of lifestyle factors which affect you and your ability to progress through sessions and in life in general. Some of these can be controlled. Stress, for example, is extremely important as it directly affects your emotional and mental health. Stress can be in the form of major life events such as bereavement, divorce, changing jobs, moving house and having a baby, but it can be smaller stresses that build up such as living with disorganised people, feeling pressure to visit someone, being forced to listen to loud background noises or missing a train.

When the brain is under stress, thinking slows up, decision-making is difficult and for ongoing stress, sleep may be poor as a result too. When stress affects your mood, it's normal to become demotivated. However, by examining your life and stress-factors, you can word with your coach to see how this may be controlled. What stress can be removed from your life? How could you manage stress that is constant and unavoidable? A coach can help you with these questions. When the stress becomes more controllable, you start to feel much calmer overall, your confidence increases and this produces a positive spiral as you make new changes in your lives.

DIET AND MOTIVATION

Diet is another lifestyle factor which is very important for all of us. If we consistently feed ourselves with highly processed foods and little fibre in our diet, we become sluggish both physically and mentally. This is not conducive to a healthy mind and of course impacts the ability for a client to be motivated enough to pursue their goals. It's a psychological stumbling block. Eating a healthy diet, balanced to incorporate the different food groups, can help a client to maintain their weight. Cooking methods should be considered too, it's important that nutrients are not destroyed in the cooking process.

Diet can never be a one-size-fits-all approach, however. Recent evidence on low G.I. (glycemic index) and high G.I. foods has shown that. G.I. indicates how long food gives you energy in your body. It has long being stated that low G.I. foods are better for you and high G.I. should be avoided as they spike blood sugar levels, fluctuate insulin levels too much, leading to a sugar crash. Over time this can lead to diabetes. However, studies are now showing that we have individual gut bacteria and therefore what is high G.I. for one person, may be low G.I. for another. This reminds us of the importance of understanding your own body and therefore you would be encouraged to find what diet works best for you. By improving your diet, you eat better and may manage to control health problems that were previously holding you back, depressing you and demotivating you. It leaves you in a much stronger mental place to achieve change and your health goals.

POOR SLEEP AND THE EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN

Sleep is a controllable lifestyle factor, for the most part, though can be affected by outside circumstances such as medication or young children. Someone who consistently loses sleep will have impaired reaction times, decision-making and problem solving. They will be demotivated, they will have difficulty dealing with others and coping with change in their lives. These are massive stumbling blocks for progressing their goals. Coaches may notice that some clients are more susceptible that others to lack of sleep, where some will feel depressed after only a couple of poor nights sleep.

When you sleep well, your body gets a chance to heal and repair. Sleep supports healthy growth and development and helps regulate hormone function. The immune system relies on sleep and therefore helps the body defend against harmful substances and infections. Sleep is critical for good health, but to go further, lack of sleep is dangerous. Imagine someone who is overtired and chooses to drive, causing a car accident with themselves and others. This perhaps leaves them in a state of shock and with far more problems to deal with.if this happened to you, you would not likely be a positive place to deal with changing your life!

THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE

Exercising releases endorphins, a hormone which blocks pain and releases feel-good chemicals in our bodies. It reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke and can reduce high blood pressure. By not exercising, you burn fewer calories, making it harder to maintain weight, which leads to an increased blood pressure. Your muscles and bones weaken with time. Stamina decreases and wellbeing decreases too. Again, this puts you in a poor position to be making positive changes in their lives. However, exercising will help you achieve your health and weight goals. You will become more aware of your limits (and exploring boundaries is key during the process of life coaching). Exercise will help you develop positive habits, possibly on a daily basis. It helps you prioritise what is important to you and manage your time better. Your energy levels will improve and this will create stamina for life changes ahead. You will feel good because you are setting a positive example to others around them. You will sleep better and we have already discussed how important sleep is. In looking after yourself, you are likely to want to educate themselves better about health, wellbeing and fitness, building on your success. Stress levels will decrease and sense of control increases. Confidence and optimism will improve and you will get positive feedback on the benefits of setting a goal in the first place, motivating you to pursue other goals!

THE EFFECTS OF ADDICTION

Smoking, drug and alcohol habits are vitally important to you because of the impact they have on your emotional and mental health. If you form an addiction to any drug, for example nicotine, it can impact how you see the world. Nicotine will increase your concentration and relax you, but with regular use the brain becomes dependent on nicotine and experiences withdrawal. When your brain doesn't get a supply, it will slow up your concentration and make you sleepy. You will feel agitated, fidgety and so on. It will be difficult for you to feel motivated, because your focus will be on smoking again to reinstate the good feelings they get. In the long term, it causes anxiety and there is also a link to depression too. If you're constantly on-edge, going from one fix to the other and not physically healthy due to the physical effects of smoking on lung capacity, you will not be in a good psychological place to make changes in your life. By giving up smoking, you will become much healthier, short-term and longer-term, but it helps you learn self-discipline. This reinforces positive messages and helps you make positive changes in other areas of life.

THE HOME ENVIRONMENT

The home environment affects you. For example, living with and caring for a mentally ill person, an abusive or drug-dependent partner will affect your mental health and if this causes exhaustion, it will impact your physical health too.

There are other physical environmental factors to consider, for example, a damp house would be damaging to the respiratory system of most people, but could lead to asthma, which in turn makes you feel unhealthy. Excessive dust or cigarette smoke would be damaging in the home too, especially for the asthmatic or if you have allergies. A coach can encourage you to make longer-term goals to address some of these factors which may initially seem unavoidable. This will increase your confidence and your general health should improve too. External environmental factors such as traffic pollution or a lack of vitamin D because of nightshift working can have a negative impact. Fine particles from air pollution can irritate and inflame the lungs and be damaging, particularly to those with heart or lung disease. Poor vitamin D levels are linked to muscle weakness, cancers and cognitive impairment in later life. Again, changes required to address these issues may require longer-term goal setting such as moving location or changing profession. However, overall it leads you to a healthier life and great fulfilment from tackling your problems.

When you book with me, your coaching registration pack includes a lifestyle questionnaire. It allows you to step back and see what's going on in your own life and is extremely helpful in identifying areas for development. As always, we'll discuss what areas you could focus on, but the decision is yours.