Equan offers Stress Management & Resilience Coaching in Brighton
What is stress and why does it happen?
Stress is a physical and/or psychological reaction to a situation we think maybe harmful or threatening to us in some way. This is often referred to as the fight or flight response, which helped keep our ancient ancestors alive, but can be very harmful if we are chronically stressed. When the flight/flight/freeze response is activated humans release a hormones including cortisol (know as the stress hormone) so that the body can prepare for action.
In work and in our personal lives people talk about being stressed all the time, but many people do not understand what stress is and how it affects them as an individual. Stress can in fact be a good thing, it can motivate us and help us through difficult situations. A recent study in the US has shown that it is not the stress that has a negative impact on our health but it is the thoughts we have about stress that causes ill health.
How does it differ from pressure or challenge?
Feeling pressured or having a challenge to overcome is something that most people experience and move trough without little hard or ongoing concern. Feeling some pressure or being tasked with a difficult challenge can motivate us to push ourselves and achieve goals that may have been considered out of reach.
Stress and especially chronic stress involves a physiological response in our bodies that can be harmful if we do not have enough rest and relaxation between stressful events. Unfortunately in the modern world technology has resulted in little or no downtime from work, social media and the news which can all produce the stress response.
The Stress Trajectory
The stress trajectory shows the different stages of stress or different types of stress. It starts with eustress that is the stress you experience when you have to give a presentation or have a difficult conversation. It is short term and actually helps you succeed and maintain motivation. At the other end of the stress trajectory is burn out which can occur when you have been experiencing chronic stress for a period of time.
The further you move up the trajectory the more likely it is that you will be experiencing symptoms of stress, which include; headaches, neck/back pain, increase or decrease in appetite, smoking more, drinking more, irritable, unable to make decisions, forgetful, accident prone, uninterested, low motivation, difficulty sleeping, racing thoughts and tiredness, to name a few! The good news is you can learn how to manage your stress and take control of how you feel.
The Impact of Stress on Body and Mind
Stress can have implications for your physical, emotional and behavioural wellbeing. Stress will manifest in different ways for different people but some of the more common effect of stress are:
- Low energy and fatigue
- Neck/back tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Gastro upset (including diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, cramps)
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Fast heart rate
- Loss of sexual drive or ability
- Low mood/ depression
- Irritability/ anger
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Racing thoughts/ rumination
Common effects of stress on your behaviour
- Overeating or lack of appetite
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal/ Isolation
- Poor performance at work
- Exercising less often
Work Related Stress
The Health Service Executive (HSE) describe work related stress as a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work. The HSE found in a recent study that 15.4 million work days were lost in the UK (2018) due to work related stress, anxiety and depression. People experiencing work related stress can have a range of symptoms but also they will loose confidence in their abilities and not perform at a level they are capable of. This can be detrimental and can have a huge impact on success, satisfaction and engagement at work.
What is resilience?
Often resilience is seen as being really tough and bouncing back easily from traumatic or difficult situations but this is not necessarily the true meaning of what a resilient mindset is. Resilience is the ability to navigate life, adapting to change, learning through adversity and understanding your feelings and emotional responses to situations. Resilience is an evolving way of being and takes personal understanding and awareness. There are people who are naturally more resilient than others but the good news is resilience can be learned and improved.
What is stress management coaching?
Stress management coaching helps the client manage stress in their personal or work lives (or both) to ensure they can remain effective, efficient and fulfilled in what they do.
Coping Strategies and stress management
Clients will learn a range of stress management strategies and tools that they can use every day to manage their stress. The combination of tools will be specific to each individual client but may include
- Breathing exercises
- Self care
- Self compassion
- Health life style changes
- Managing conflict
- Time management
Each client will get to practice the tools and strategies so that they can implement changes that respond to their personal stress trigger and situation.
The Equan Stress Management Coaching Approach
The Equan stress management coaching approach differs between clients and what they bring to coaching. If a client knows and understands what is causing their stress and what the symptoms and reactions are to the stress the approach will be a traditional coaching approach.
On the other hand the client just feels really stressed and cannot articulate clearly why they are feeling this there are a number of stress assessments that can be completed to provide more detail about the stress the client is experiencing. These assessments will be discussed with the client in the initial session. The assessments used are:
- Perceived stress scale – an internationally recognised tool to measure stress and individuals perception of the impact
- Equan Stress Questionnaire
- Equan Wellbeing Assessment
Once the assessments have been undertaken the results and findings will be discussed and explored in the next session. From here a traditional approach to coaching will commence including
- Articulation of current situation
- Explore desired future state
- Develop goals and outcomes
- Design plan of action
- Review, update and celebrate success
The Equan Resilience Coaching Approach
The Equan resilience coaching approach is called WAVE™ and is broken down into 4 manageable parts; wellness, awareness, vision and energy & motivation.
The first aspect of resilience is being and feeling well in all aspects of your life. In the real world it is not possible to be perfect in all of these areas of wellness all the time but if you understand where you are and have some strategies in place to manage you will feel better equipped for life. There are 8 elements of wellness and include
- Do I feel positive most of the time
- Do I deal with stress well
- How do I deal with challenges in my life
- Do I eat well
- Do I sleep well
- Do I exercise
- Am I happy in my work
- Do I feel appreciated at work
- Am I fulfilled with the work I do
Friends & family
- Do I have positive relationships with my family and/or friends
- Do I get to see my family and/or friends regularly
- Do I have support form family and/or friends when I need it
- Do I have regular social activities
- Am I involved in my community
- Am I accepting of others (race, sexuality, religion, gender)
Spiritual and/ or environmental
- Do I have a belief system
- Do I have a sense of purpose
- Do I feel connected to the world around me
Intellectual and creative
- Do I feel mentally stimulated
- Do I have time to be creative or do activities not related to my work
- Do I have enough money to look after myself and my dependents
- Do I make good decisions with my finances
- Do I take responsibility for my financial situation
How can I improve my overall wellness?
Completing one of the many available wellness questionnaires online can give you an understating of where you are with your personal wellness. Once you have completed an assessment make a plan to tackle some of the problem areas. Remember to start with small achievable goals and don’t try to make too many big changes on at once. This is a great starting point on your resilience journey.
Awareness is about understanding yourself and how you are in the world. How do you behave, how do you relate to people, what makes you feel upset or angry and how do you deal with this?
Improving your self-awareness means that you understand your needs better, and have an easier time communicating what you need and want. Being self-aware can have many benefits including
- Ability to set attainable goals
- Being more optimistic
- Honest with yourself
- Feeling happier and more content
- Less guilt and remorse
- Easier to make decisions
- Less likely to see something as a failure rather a opportunity to learn
How can you become more self-aware?
Journaling is a great way to start your self-awareness improvement.
Recording difficult events and how you dealt with them gives you the opportunity to reflect and understand why you may have reacted in a particular way. Once you start journaling you will notice that you become more aware of your emotions and reactions to situations in the moment.
If there are certain areas that you feel you have a block and are unable to move through yourself, get some help from a therapist or a coach. Working with a professional even on a short-term basis can have a huge impact and can help you achieve goals that you may have thought impossible.
Your vision is not just about your career but your life as a whole, your family, friends, where you live and what you do with your time. Understanding what is important to you helps you manage and put into perspective any stressors in your life. Working for a company or organisation that is aligned with your personal vision makes for a happier work life and a more meaningful job.
The vision component may seem simple but it’s something that many people do not do. When is the last time you asked yourself what makes me really happy or what do I want to be remembered for? Take some time out to truly and honestly reflect on what is important, what do you want to have and achieve in your life. This can change and evolve with time especially as you get to know yourself better. When creating your personal vision make sure to look at all aspects of your life so you get a holistic picture.
Energy & motivation
Energy and motivation is about managing your stress levels and understanding your personal motivators. Stress is the bodies respond to a perceived threat or danger, this automatic response served humans well back in the Stone Age when we were faced with life threating situations on a daily basis. Roll on to present day, and we are still having the same bodily response to situations that are non-life threating and much more frequent. Technology, social media and a constant connection to the workplace are among the biggest stressors in modern day life.
Taking some technology free quite time for yourself everyday, exercising, getting enough sleep, connecting with friends and family, breathing exercises, mindfulness and getting out in the fresh air are all great ways to start reducing your stress.
The positive side of stress is motivation. Wanting to do a good job, get a promotion, loose weight or run a marathon are all driven by the same stress responses. Healthy amounts of stress keep us motivated, you just need to give yourself time to rest and recuperate to stay in the positive stress or eustress category and not move into chronic and unmanageable stress.
Motivation is closely linked to your vision, having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve helps to keep you on the right track and also helps you move through difficult situations that in the long term will not have any impact on your vision and goals.
A daily mindful practice is an essential part of improving your resilience. Mindfulness will help each one of the 4 aspects of a resilient mindset, wellness, awareness, vision and energy & motivation. A mindful practice can include silent meditation, guided meditation, progressive relaxation and being mindful when doing everyday tasks. To start your mindfulness practice I suggest you look online for some guided mindful practices, there are so many to choose from. Another easy way to start your mindful practice is to decide on one everyday activity to complete mindfully. A good one is brushing your teeth, so instead of having busy mind with hundreds of thoughts rushing through it decided to be mindful. Engage all your senses in this one activity and acknowledge and release any thoughts that come to your mind. This may be tricky to start with but it will get easier I promise.
Resilience is something that every person should be taught, luckily many schools are now teaching resilience to children from a young age, as it is acknowledged as being such an important skill. Workplaces are also beginning to understand the importance of resilience but we have a long way to go before this skill is widely taught and embedded in workplace cultures.
Techniques for Managing stressful and challenging situations
The techniques for managing stressful situations differ between clients and the type of stress they are experiencing. Techniques for managing stress can be broken down into
- Action – some stress we experience can be managed through action, just doing something to resolve the situation. Examples include having a difficult conversation with your colleague/ boss/ partner, how many times have you stressed about something like this and it turned out not to be as bad as you thought. Paying a bill or updating your drivers license, personal admin can cause a lot of stress, make some time to address it
- Acceptance – some stress comes from situations or outcomes that we are unhappy about. Examples can include not getting a promotion or a job we went for, this can be very stressful but often it is the emotional reaction to this situation that makes it much more stressful than it needs to be. Some outcomes are because of decisions we have made like giving up your job to start your own business – stressful because of the loss of income but this was your choice and you still can make other choices. Acceptance is about looking at the whole picture and not just focusing on the negative aspect of the situation.
- Resilience – some stress comes from events and situations that are totally out of our control like a death of a close friend or family, loss of home or property due to fire or burglary or a serious health concern or diagnosis. These stressors are the most difficult to deal with and it takes personal resilience to get through them.
Just like the stress symptoms everybody has different stress strategies that will help them through difficult times. You need to find what works for you but a few examples are breathing exercises, medication and mindfulness, call a friend, take a walk, take some tech free time, take a break and get out in nature.
If you know you are going to experience stress being prepared helps you perform and manage your stress levels. If this is a presentation at work, an interview or a throwing a birthday party preparation will help you feel on top of things and to stay in control.
Have boundaries and say no when you need to
Knowing when your plate is full and how to say no will help your stress levels immensely. You will need different strategies for managing this in work and home life all of which can be explored through coaching. Learn how to say no can be life changing giving you back some time for you.
Stress can be caused by having too many competing priorities and not enough time to complete them all. Understating your role and responsibilities and setting attainable goals will help you stay on top of your workload and have a more systematic approach to working through your workload.
Stress Management and Resilience Coaching can help you with:
- Identifying stressors and triggers
- Work life balance
- Challenging and demanding work environments
- Dealing with trauma
- Managing change
- Toxic workplaces and/ or colleagues
- Anxiety, irritability and low mood
- Concentration and focus
- Productivity and effectiveness
- Building positive relationships
Understand the science behind stress
Through stress management coaching you will understand the pathophysiology of stress and how it manifests for you. You will understand the physical, emotional and behavioural impacts of stress and how to build strategies into your everyday life to manage these symptoms and prevent them occurring.
Discover their personal stress triggers
Stress is different for everybody including causes, triggers, symptoms and strategies that work. Through the stress management coaching you will learn about your personal triggers and how to manage and/or avoid these triggers.
Develop strategies to minimise the potential of unhealthy stress in their lives
A small amount of stress is useful and can help you achieve success and remain motivated through difficult times. Keeping stress at a healthily level is the core goal of stress management coaching and you will develop you own personal set of techniques and strategies to manage unhealthy levels of stress.
Explore tools that reduce the negative impact of unhealthy stress
Coaching provides a supportive environment for you to explore and discovery what tools and techniques work to help you manage stress in your life. It is a nonjudgmental space where you can work through the most personal and long standing stress you may be carrying with you.
Establish practices to build long-term resilience
Resilience is like a muscle that you have to keep using and maintaining to remain the most resilient you can be. Through resilience coaching you will learn numerous skills and discover personal resources that will help you build long-term resilience.
What happens during a Stress Management and Resilience coaching session?
During the first few stress management and resilience coaching sessions we will explore the issues and areas for improvement, understand what the goals and outcomes are and then we will develop a plan of action to put into place. In subsequent sessions we will review actions from previous sessions review and make changes where needed to the plan. During the coaching program you will also practice stress reduction techniques and strategies during some sessions so you feel confident to take them out into the real world.
Is there a typical time frame for the stress management and Resilience coaching program?
Coaching can have an impact quickly over a couple of months but deep sustainable change can take 6 -12 months depending on the client.
How much does Stress Management and Resilience coaching usually Cost?
Equan Stress Management and Resilience Coaching is £65 per session and sessions are usually once per week.