by Bob Boyd, Wellness Coach
Mental health has become one of the most talked-about health topics and the reasons are understandable. People perceive themselves becoming more stressed due to the increased pace of the many and varied activities that occupy their daily lives.
Some people might query the relationship between physical activities and mental health. However whatever lifestyle an individual chooses to adopt, it always has lasting effects on an individual’s mental state. There is now a greater understanding of the relationship of ailments that affect the body and those of the mental state. Whatever affects the body can affect the mind as well, and vice-versa.
Achieving a high level of personal wellbeing is a function of choosing to live a wellness lifestyle. Maintaining a balance of all the inter-related dimensions of wellness (physical, social, intellectual, emotional occupational, spiritual, environmental, cultural and financial – www.wellnessaustralia.org) ensures a person is functioning at their full potential capacity in all aspects of their life. However maintaining this balance in the fast pace of modern day life can be at times a constant battle.
Mental wellness refers to a general state of stable emotional well-being in an individual. In this state, an individual can successfully manage the stress they encounter every day, maintain work/life/family harmony, and contribute in a positive way to their community and society at large.
Wellness Coaching has been defined as being ‘the application of the principles and processes of professional coaching to the goals of lifestyle improvement for higher levels of personal wellness’ (Arloski, M. (2007) ‘Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change’ – https://realbalance.com).
A Wellness Coach helps a client overcome resistance to change using an evidence based approach to search out what is the ‘something’ they want to achieve, why they want to achieve it and what is stopping them from achieving it (Cosgrove, F. – www.wellnesscoachingaustralia.com.au).
Health/Wellness coaches partner with a client to empower the client to engage with behavior change and adopt a healthier lifestyle. One should not mistake health/wellness coaching for therapy. Therapy refers to proffering solutions to problems. However, health/wellness coaching is therapeutic, especially when an individual has started developing symptoms of mental conditions impacting their health, their life and perhaps other’s health and lives.
People form an alliance with a health/wellness coach when they have a need to solve a current lifestyle issue, such as lose weight, manage stress, alleviate chronic medical conditions, achieve better nutrition, stop addictions, and engage in exercise etc, but also to co-construct a personal behavior change plan for a lasting healthier lifestyle.
Benefits of Health/Wellness coaching for personal mental health
Reduction in anxiety. Health/Wellness coaching has been shown scientifically to reduce anxiety levels. Clients feel less anxious than they used to, bringing them relative calm.
Improved Moods. When working with a Health/Wellness coach a person’s moods improve and they experience a reduction in mood swings. They feel happier and more inclined to increase their activity levels.
Increase in Self Esteem. A Health/Wellness coach will help one increase their self esteem providing a greater belief of self worth and a decrease in ‘failure’ self talk. This ensures better capability to deal with rejection and disapproval more effectively. It also bolsters one’s confidence to overcome challenges.
Better Rest. People with mental conditions usually suffer from restlessness resulting in reduced quality restorative sleep, rest and relaxation. Health/Wellness coaching encourages the adoption of behaviours that have been scientifically proven to decrease stress and improve relaxation.
Work/Life Harmony. A Health/Wellness coach works with a client to reflect on their time involvement, personal commitment to and passion for, all aspects of their life in order to develop a plan to map them all into an obtainable and sustainable, productive, stress less day to day existence.
Prevention and management of depression. It is normal for people to feel down occasionally. However, if it becomes regular, it is a sign that the person is in need of support and care.An individual, who is experiencing mood swings, sadness, anger, or lack of willpower to engage in activities, is showing signs that they are, or are becoming, depressed. Partnering with a Health/Wellness coach a client can devise many effective strategies and working plans to ensure depression does not develop, or to overcome it if they are already depressed,
Wellness Coaching practice combines Behaviour Change Theory, Positive Psychology, Coaching Psychology and Motivation Theory to create with a client a plan of action. Wellness Coaching practice is successful with most people as it facilitates desired outcomes instead of prescribing them. The client has more ownership of the plan thus more confidence while taking responsibility for carrying out the plan. Regular communication, active listening, deep introspective questioning, 0tracking progress, non-judgmental loop-hole free accountability and celebrating small successes are some strategies that provide the best potential for a client to finally achieve the significant change that they desire. A good Health/Wellness coach supports their client in the work they do with other Health Professionals, and given the physical/mental relationship previously identified especially Exercise Physiologists and Dietitians.