When you think about coaching, what do you visualise? Is it a focus on getting that next promotion? Focus on improving your performance at work? Maybe learning how to step up into a new more senior position?
While all of these are realistic scenarios where coaching can be helpful, I want to shine a light on some of the ways coaching can support your health and wellbeing.
Coaching can help support any kind of change you want to make. And of course that includes your wellbeing. Working with a coaching psychologist ensures you’re working with a professional who has both the coaching skills and domain knowledge about topics like behaviour change, wellbeing at work, and issues like stress, to make a real and lasting difference.
A wellbeing ethos
We have a holistic ethos when it comes to wellbeing. It’s not just the absence of illness, injury or disease. But instead, a true human flourishing, psychologically and physically. Our moods, emotions, thoughts, behaviours and relationships all play a role in our wellbeing. And coaching is an excellent way to bring these to the fore, to take intentional steps in a valued direction.
Coaching for one area of life can positively impact the others. Skills and insights acquired through coaching can be used in various contexts, and this applies especially to wellbeing.
Coaching and your wellbeing
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that working with the coaching psychologist can contribute positively to your wellbeing.
1. Coaching and stress management
While we might wish that the modern workplace was free of stressors and challenges, it’s rarely the case. Job-related stress contributes significantly to psychological and physical illness. It is a leading cause of absence from the workplace, decreases productivity, and increases turnover in organisations of all types.
A 2023 poll from Ipsos revealed that 62% of employees felt their daily life had been disrupted due to stress and that 39% have had to take time off in the last 12 months due to stress.
And while the subjective nature of job-related stress means that what one person finds motivating another could find particularly difficult, research has consistently identified a handful of workplace factors that can lead to job related stress if not addressed. These include manager support, role clarity, job control, how organisational change is managed, relationships with others, and volumes of workload.
It’s tempting to buy into the narrative that if we just work a little bit harder we can deal with that unmanageable workload. Or the belief that work must be unpleasant to some degree. Or that conflict is inevitable. A well-designed job in a healthy workplace will not inevitably lead to stress. So the best stress management programmes begin at a strategic, organisational level.
When it comes to coaching with an individual, we can support them in developing the thinking and behavioral skills to effectively manage the impact that workplace stressors can have on them.
This includes cognitive skills to reframe situations, and learning how to get distance from unwelcome thoughts (cognitive defusion) such as the ‘Sunday scaries‘. It can also include simple, but impactful habits, like taking breaks from screens, engaging in physical exercise, proactively prioritising workload, and taking steps to get support from others. We can also help our clients to better understand the stress process, so they can identify the stressors they are responding to, and why their symptoms show up the way they do.
Stress doesn’t need to turn into a chronic debilitating experience, and learning how to manage it effectively by working with a coaching psychologist is one way to navigate it healthily.
2. Coaching and coping strategies
Every day at work has the potential to send some challenges and setbacks our way. And while we have little to no control on how the issues present themselves, we do have control on how we respond to these challenges. This is where coping comes in.
Basically anything we do in response to difficulties can be considered coping. But even the briefest moment of reflection should make it obvious that not all responses to difficulties are going to be equally effective or healthy over the long term. Check out the video below for information on coping and how it works.
Some very common coping strategies may bring temporary relief from an unwelcome mood or thoughts about work, but over time they can lead to more problems than they solve. For example, here in the U,K consumption of alcohol is one of the most popular coping strategies that can fall into this unsustainable category. We sometimes referred to these by the acronym DOTS: Distracting yourself, Opting out of action, unhelpful Thinking strategies, and the use of Substances.
These avoidance-based approaches can definitely improve how we feel about things in the short term, but do nothing to address the presenting problem – and often lead to additional problems over time.
It can be very useful to explore someone’s existing coping toolkit through the lens of sustainability. In other words, is this a coping strategy they could continue to on an ongoing basis without any risk to their well-being?
Working with a coaching psychologist is an excellent way to explore your coping toolkit, identify new, sustainable coping strategies, and get a much better handle on the extent to which you have control over the situations you’re trying to deal with.
3. Coaching for new and healthy habits
So many of my coaching clients want to make a fresh start when it comes to their wellbeing – they just don’t know how to do it.
They may well have fallen into some of the most common pitfalls in attempting to turn things around. This includes aiming for goals that are unrealistic or too disruptive to their daily routines. Adopting a restrictive and unrealistic diet regimen in an attempt to lose weight. Or believing that a fresh start like on January 1st, gives them the opportunity to change their entire life in just a matter of weeks. The truth as ever is somewhere in between these extremes.
If someone wants to make an improvement to their well-being routines, working with a coaching psychologist can help them understand the role of small daily habits, and how to cultivate these habits into impactful routines. These in turn can boost our self-efficacy or self-belief, allowing us to grow these habits over time into something even more significant.
As I frequently point out, the cumulative impact of habits overtime is not to be underestimated. It’s also a much more sustainable way to build in the kind of focus and activities that support our well-being in a lasting way.
We can also support effective goal-setting, based on realistic and valued outcomes, as opposed to goals that are the results of social pressure or an inauthentic desire to copy someone else.
And when it comes to the psychological side of wellbeing, we can work on developing the skills of psychological flexibility which contribute significantly to wellbeing and job performance.
There you have it. Three important ways that coaching can support your wellbeing. If you’d like to find out more about how coaching can help your wellbeing or that of your team, get in touch to speak with one of our team members today.