“Well-being” Is Whole-Person Wellness


Plunging Into Whole Person Wellness

Plunging Into Whole Person Wellness

The term “Well-being” may have come along at just the right time. Public speakers and marketers are re-branding wellness as wellbeing by saying that well-being is more complete, more holistic. Well-being, they say, incorporates the whole person, their environment, their financial picture, their career, etc. On the one hand it’s too bad that we have to invent a new term to refresh our memory of what “wellness” really is. On the other, with the way that corporations and organizations have allowed their wellness programs and products to deteriorate into overly simplistic efforts, based on single-measurable-variable pieces of research, “well-being” may be the kick in the pants that reminds us about “whole-person wellness”.what-is-HWB_04

Twenty to forty-year veterans of the wellness and health promotion field hear speakers appear to create false distinctions between the terms wellbeing and wellness. And yet, are they indeed false distinctions?

Has the term wellness been worn out? It has certainly been misused and abused. Here in Northern Colorado a “wellness center” is probably a medical marijuana dispensary. “Google” the word and the number one listing on that search engine is always the “Wellness” brand of dog and cat food.

What may be more disturbing though, is how we have come to look at wellness in ways that jettison its original holistic meaning. In an effort to be more scientific and “evidence-based”, we have embraced research efforts to show the effectiveness of our approaches to wellness and health promotion. While this research is important and has yielded much of great value, too much of it has been focused on what could be called the measurement of a single variable. As we’ve tried to apply the scientific method to this cause we’ve oversimplified our approach far too often.

Skinner boxWhen we want to study the health behavior of human populations the challenge is daunting. It’s easy to control extraneous variables in a “Skinner Box”. Any social scientist will tell you that people are a lot more complicated. The result has been too many health behavior studies measuring one aspect of activity, one blood lipid level, one blood sugar level. While those little building blocks all help to assemble the scientific foundation we need, too much is concluded from them. In our online digital world a simple study with twenty subjects, run one time, has its results proclaimed as headline news.

Following the medical world, where the threat of litigation for malpractice hovers over every practice like a vulture, we have sought to provide only programming that is “evidence-based”. That means, as Dee Edington stated at the 2013 American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference, “if you only do evidence-based you’ll never innovate!” The temptation is to “dumb-down” our concept of wellness to just physical fitness and nutrition. The temptation is to be happy that we got someone to walk three times a week and call it good.

620-667-I-G36There Is Nothing New Under The Sun

Dusting off the yellowed pages of my edition of Donald Ardell’s High Level Wellness: An Alternative To Doctors, Drugs and Disease (1977) I found my long-time friend Don referred to his colleague and fellow wellness pioneer, Jack Travis, as Jack and he defined wellness: “Travis believes that wellness begins when an individual sees himself or herself as a growing, changing person. High level wellness means giving care to the physical self, using the mind constructively, channeling stress energies positively, expressing emotions effectively, becoming creatively involved with other, and staying in touch with the environment.”

Travis - 12 Dimensions Model

Travis – 12 Dimensions Model

Ardell posed five dimensions of wellness, Bill Hetler six (http://www.nationalwellness.org/?page=Six_Dimensions), and Travis, including a number of psychological dimensions, built a model with twelve dimensions (http://www.wellpeople.com/Wellness_Dimensions.aspx). Clearly “wellness” has always been meant to be a holistic concept as I stated in 1994 in my article “The Ten Tenets Of Wellness” (published in Wellness Management , the newsletter of The National Wellness Association, which also can be found in Chapter Two in Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change, 2nd Ed.)(http://wholeperson.com/store/wellness-coaching-for-lasting-lifestyle-change.shtml).

Indeed we’ve seen it all before. The term “Mindfulness” has been skillfully re-packaged by Jon Kabat-Zinn and others. Studying today’s version of “mindfulness” someone like me is transported back to about 1968 when I was in college and reading books like Bernard Gunther’s Sense Relaxation Below Your Mind(http://www.amazon.com/Sense-Relaxation-Below-Your-Mind/dp/B000VLH7Q8). Of course everything we’re talking about here is based on practices that go back thousands of years in the traditions of meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, and more.

While in my doctoral program in the 1970’s, I was blessed with the opportunity to learn deeply about biofeedback and how to apply it in working with stress-related disorders. I specialized in that for many years as a psychologist and served as the President of The Ohio Society For Biofeedback and Behavioral Health. The beauty of the research done by biofeedback pioneers Elmer and Alice Greene (http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Biofeedback-Elmer-Green/dp/0940267144 and http://www.consciousnessandbiofeedback.org) was to use recently developed technology to study the consciousness practices of Indian Yogis, monks, and others. By examining their subject’s brain waves and various physiological indicators they ended up validating the legitimacy of such practices. Thus we see that today’s “mindfulness” has its roots in research completed under other names as well.

Authentic H CoverToday’s dynamic Positive Psychology movement has invigorated the field of psychology and is providing the sound research evidence that is validating what the Humanistic Psychology folks have been saying since the 1950’s and 1960’s. The “Human Potential Movement” of the late 1960’s and the work of Abraham Maslow, Virginia Satir, Carl Rogers, Rolo May and many others, emphasized looking at human behavior from a positive growth perspective instead of the usual clinical/pathological perspective. Saying that Martin Seligman “founded” the Positive Psychology Movement may be accurate in recent history, but he did so standing on the shoulders of these earlier giants. Our field of coaching also built its self on these same shoulders and from its inception always took on a positive psychology, strengths-based approach to working with people.

WellnesssunsetkickA Return To Whole-Person Wellness

Looking at wellness programs merely as “cost-containment strategies” has caused us to develop a tunnel vision ROI-only view. Some companies today are spending more money on their incentives to get people to take a health-risk assessment, etc. than they are spending on their wellness programs! When we view employees only as statistical units that drive up healthcare costs, we down-size – or “dumb-size” our thinking. The “well-being” approach would have us view employees as whole people who can contribute to the mission and purpose of our company and do so through creative, higher performance that happens when they are “well” in this holistic sense. The term to shift to is VOI (Value On Investment).

More Than Just Corporate Health Promotion

BIGGARD_SU_C_^_SUNIQWhen we step outside of the corporate world we see wellness, and now well-being, at work in our healthcare settings, communities, schools, places of worship, and among groups and individuals who want to live their best life possible. We are realizing the powerful effect that connection and community provides for our health and well-being. We are seeing how having safe green spaces to walk, play and exercise increase the health of communities. Part of our approach to wellness/well-being is to step outside of a myopic corporate perspective and remember that not everyone works for a company with the benefits of a wellness program. Being inclusive of under-served populations in both rural and urban areas, Native American/First Nations Reservations, and others means maintaining this big-picture view of what wellness/well-being means.

If “Well-Being” helps us remember to work with the whole person and view them from a holistic perspective – great! If the term refreshes programs and generates engagement – wonderful! Bring on “Well-Being” while we remember that it really is – Whole Person Wellness.


Note: This June the National Wellness Conference will celebrate it’s 40th Anniversary. (http://www.nationalwellness.org/?page=NWC2015) The latest in wellness and health promotion will be on display as well as an opportunity to create community in the wellness field like nowhere else. Among the celebrations will be a special Legacy & Vision Talk with a number of the founders of the wellness field. Come and join us and experience what Whole Person Wellness is really all about!

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The Language of Effective Coaching Accountability


While mentoring a coach along the path towards her ACC (Associate Certified Coach through the ICF – International Coaching Federation – http://coachfederation.org) I observed her repeated hesitancy in using accountability in her coaching. As we explored this I found that in her coach training she had been exposed to a style of enforcing accountability instead of co-creating accountability. The words turned her off, and she feared they would turn off her client as well.

“How will I know you’ve done this?” “How will you let me know you got this done?”

Drill Sergeant Approach Not Welcome.

Drill Sergeant Approach Not Welcome.

The subtle (or not so subtle) tone of the supervisor/teacher/drill sergeant comes through with words like this.

The MINDSET of the coach around accountability is paramount. Through Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc., (https://www.realbalance.com) and in my book Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change, 2nd Ed. (https://wholeperson.com/store/wellness-coaching-lifestyle-change.shtml) I am always teaching that in effective coaching the client is not accountable to you, the coach, they are accountable to themselves. The client wants to be accountable and follow through on their commitments. The accountability that coaching offers is, perhaps more than any other single feature, what put coaching on the map. It is a premier value that coaching offers. Clients want to have a way to finally succeed and “get er’ done”! When the coach realizes that accountability is something the client truly wants and appreciates, yet doesn’t want to be bossed, the mindset becomes one of collaboration instead of supervision.

The Word Choice Is Keywords-have-power

“How can I help you follow through and get this done?” “How can I help you accomplish this?” “What’s the best way to handle accountability around this?”

The tone here implies the work of an ally who is standing shoulder to shoulder with the client and wants to be right there during the tough part of behavioral change and action. It keeps the essential client-centered nature of coaching intact. It honors that the client is the one in the driver’s seat and the one responsible for their actions, or lack thereof. And concomitantly it takes the responsibility off of the coach’s shoulders where it can feel like more of a burden.

Teaching Our Clients To Be Clients

A crucial part of effective coaching is to build a great alliance with our client and part of that is educating them on how coaching can work for them. The accountability that our clients are used to is almost always completely from a subordinate position. They have experience being a student, an employee, a patient, and a child. Perhaps they even have been on the receiving end of an unhealthy relationship with an intimate partner who bossed them around. The “drill sergeant” approach portrayed on television by the ruthless fitness trainer makes for entertaining TV, but defies all that we know about how to help someone succeed at lasting lifestyle change.

As coaches we offer something completely different in the world of accountability. We offer an alliance to help our clients achieve what they want to achieve. The client chooses what they want to work on, and with our assistance they refine what accomplishing their tasks will look like. The action steps they define fit into a larger plan (in wellness coaching we call this The Wellness Plan). We co-create AGREEMENTS about how the client wants to be accountable to themselves, and how the coach can assist.

One of the most brilliant sayings about coaching I’ve ever heard is:

Coaching is not a helping profession. It is an assisting profession.

As we coaches explain how accountability in coaching works the mindset of this co-creative alliance must pervade our language. The coach is essentially saying: I’m just here to help you do what you want to do. You’re not accountable to me. I want to help you (assist you) find the best way possible to complete this. You’re the one in charge here. It’s not about pleasing me, it’s about pleasing yourself.

Loophole-Free Accountability

Once clients understand how coaching accountability works they truly appreciate it. If our client truly wants to accomplish a certain goal and knows that the action steps required to get there must be done and done consistently they really do want serious accountability. The irony of coaching is that the coach provides accountability without the client being accountable to them.

In Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change, 2nd Ed., I talk more about what I call “loophole-free accountability”. Clients appreciate assistance in helping them avoid their own self-deception and the tiny part of themselves that resists change and may even engage in self-sabotage. Holding fast to commitments that have been made, but having zero expectations delivers a message that the coach will be solid in following the accountability agreements.

I once received what I took to be a supreme complement when my client said I was “the iron fist in the velvet glove” when it came to accountability. My language always was clothed in the velvet of kindness and that of a true ally, but the iron fist showed up in the form of language that held fast and true to our agreements.


The Sound of Great Coaching Accountability

CLIENT: I know I should practice the Tai Chi that I learned more often. I know it would be great for my knees and other joints and help me feel more relaxed. I’ve done the class now, read all I can read. I know it’s good for me. I’m ready to get serious about practicing.

COACH: Excellent! You sound like you’ve prepared all you need and now it’s time for applying what you’ve learned and benefitting from it. What would really consistent practice look like for you?

CLIENT: Well…I know I can’t do it everyday. I’m not there yet. But, you know, if I practiced say three to five times a week that would be fantastic. Realistically, let me begin with three times a week.

COACH: Great! So are you ready to make a commitment to help yourself by practicing three times a week?

CLIENT: Yes. I know I can fit it in at least three times. If I do it less than that I really won’t get the benefit I want.

COACH: Okay. So how can I help you follow through and really get that accomplished?

CLIENT: What do you mean?

COACH: Well, you really want to do this. How can I help you be accountable to yourself to practice three times a week?

CLIENT: I guess I’m not sure. I suppose we could just talk about it at our next coaching session.

COACH: Absolutely. That might be entirely sufficient. We can do that for sure. Let me ask though… since you are attempting to begin practicing three times throughout the week, would it help if you sent me an email informing me when you have practiced?

CLIENT: Actually that would help. In fact, could you send me reminder emails?

COACH: What I’ve found works best is if instead of me being responsible to remind you, that you hold yourself accountable to remember to practice and then let me know that you accomplished that. How does that sound?

CLIENT: Yeah. That probably is best. So when should I email you?

COACH: Well, let’s figure out what will work best for you. You could email me after each time your practice, or we could set up certain days that you agree to email me about it. What would be best for you?

The Client Stays Behind The Wheel

Effective coaching accountability must be a client-centered process. However, a coach can be very client-centered and still be moderately directive. Effective coaches do confront and challenge their clients. We do draw upon our training and experience to suggest implementing strategies that have a greater chance of success. It’s still the client who decides.

The coaching profession has long drawn upon the areas of communication studies and linguistics for good reason. Perhaps in no other area of coaching is language more vital than in co-creating agreements around accountability and helping clients succeed in achieving their goals.

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Crafting A Wellness Lifestyle With A World Of Choices

If we know that our lifestyle has tremendous effect upon our health,

how then shall we live?

How trapped are we in the limitations of the culture we have experienced most of our lives? Greater travel and today’s technologically shrunken world has immensely increased our awareness of alternative ways of living. We do, in fact, have a world of lifestyle choices to draw upon. Let’s look at some cultural concepts and practices we might draw upon and explore some strategies for doing so and some challenges we might face.

My best definition of wellness/well-being is living our lives consciously in ways that enhance our health. Conscious choices allow us to avoid the “automatic pilot” that often steer us toward stress, illness and poor performance. Consciousness about our entire way of living includes mindfulness. Appreciating the moment, noticing the senses, soaking it all in enriches our lives. Conscious choice means considering the path that will optimally serve us, whether it is how we will spend our Saturday, what we will order at the restaurant, or what risk we might take emotionally.

In our Wellness & Health Coach Certification Training (https://www.realbalance.com) I love to teach that it is the job of the coach to remind people that they have choices. It is so easy for us all to forget the actual choices that we really do have. Realizing that we are choosing to live our lives the way we do actually frees people to embrace the present and make life better.

A factor that can either expand or limit our perception of choices is culture. There is extensive evidence and wisdom in the health promotion literature that peer norms affect our health for better or for worse. (http://www.healthyculture.com, and http://organizationalwellness.com/who-we-are/dr_joel_bennett/) We operate on norms within our work, family, sub-culture and the larger culture that we live in. Some choices never even occur to us because we are operating so habitually within these norms.

Provence and French Alps

Provence and French Alps

L’Art De Voir

It’s no fluke that France is always the most visited country in the world, and Italy always shows up in the top five. The appeal to a large degree is for the opportunity to experience a different way of living among cultures that consciously work at “L’Art De Voir” – the art of living. Provence and Tuscany in particular seem to epitomize this cultural agreement to put quality of life first.

“Community, not work, is at the center of Provençal life. Nowhere is that more obvious than during meals, when friends and family come together to share dishes which are simple, healthy and robust in flavor. This unrushed life allows each and everyone to be in touch with themselves, and could be called true living.” (http://www.lifeinprovence.com/p_life.html)

Bk Cover Wisdom TuscAs Ferenc Máté shares in in his book The Wisdom of Tuscany “When I mention Tuscany to outsiders, the usual response is a wistful sigh. And when I add sheepishly that we live out in the hills and vineyards and olives, the common rejoinder is “You’re living my dream.” What they seem to be talking about is the quality of life: the pace, the peace, the physical beauty, the social togetherness, and, of course, the food and wine. And just as Tuscan food and wine is rooted in myriad things beyond the kitchen and cellar, so the quality of life is a vast conglomeration of daily details, each of which must be of quality for all of it to work.”

That quality in the details comes from two things: conscious awareness and a commitment to doing everything in life as best as one can. When people travel to these places they often say “there was the best tasting food there I’ve ever had”, or “the simple bread every day was amazing”. Daily things that perhaps we have allowed to become mundane, and unfortunately mediocre, suddenly astonish us when prepared and presented with pride and love. Perhaps one quick way to increase our own quality of life is by doing the same.

If one grew up in a place like Montepulciano or Roussillon the culture there would certainly have its pros and cons, but many of the healthy lifestyle components being lauded here would just be facts of life. For those of us in places like the United States, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere, we may have to very consciously work at L’Art De Voir.

Cultural cross-over is happening more and more. We see it in food especially. Ethnic restaurants and cookbooks abound. With the tremendous increase in gourmet cooking the “fusion” approach is showing up everywhere. Access to a worldwide cornucopia of food products is greater than ever. Even a small town in rural Wisconsin may have a supermarket with a fully stocked olive bar. Awareness of the Mediterranean Diet and its healthful benefits has spurred many to adopt a whole new way of cooking, often at the behest of their cardiologist. (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Mediterranean-Diet_UCM_306004_Article.jsp)Med-diet

As more people travel at younger and younger ages we bring home with us awareness of how daily life can look different. What we often want to bring back with us is not what will fit in our luggage. It is often a new pace of life, a greater sense of connectedness to our community, our family and to the natural world around us.

One of the blessings of a changing population that is increasingly ethnically diverse is the cultural infusion that results. Chances are most of us live in communities today that include neighbors from India, Nicaragua, Somalia, the Ukraine, Viet Nam, Poland and many more. As we associate with this cultural mix we are reminded that we don’t have to just do everyday things the same way all of the time. We have a world of choices.

Small head cropped1Coaching The Art of Living

Rather than pine away for a villa in the Tuscan hills what can our clients (and we coaches) do to make their own lives a work of art? Without the surrounding culture already supporting such a way of living, how can our clients still create a consciously crafted lifestyle with more choices?

1. Realizing The Choices We Have.

There are many ways we can modify our lifestyles and borrow from other cultures without losing our own cultural identity. One way is to help clients identify when they are operating on assumptions and sheer habit. Help them discover the “blind spots” in the lifestyle where they have been making certain choices simply because they have “always done it that way”. Work with your clients to distinguish between the “imperative” and the “volitional”. When something feels imperative it seems like we “must” do it that way. Ask to clients to challenge themselves at such a moment and ask “Who says?” Help them reclaim greater volition in their lives.

2. Resetting Priorities.

Not everything can be a priority. That defies the very definition of what a priority is. When clients clarify and connect with their values and create a life that is more congruent with them stress is reduced and inner peace is found. Explore what the true priorities are in life with your client and coach them around the sometimes daunting challenges of living in accordance with them.

3. Possibility Thinking And Exploring.

Creating an artful life often begins with the joy of discovery. Learning more about new ways of living may take on a fun process of exploration. We know that the stage of Preparation is what ensures successful Action. (http://www.amazon.com/James-O.-Prochaska/e/B001H9VXJ0) Make it a conscious process with support and accountability built in. Allow the client to share their discoveries in the coaching session and acknowledge their efforts. Coach them around distinguishing what new ways of living will work for them and what old ways they would like to let go of.

670px-Measurably-Improve-Your-Quality-of-Life-Step-14. Focus On Quality Of Life.  As Máté shared (above) “What they seem to be talking about is the quality of life.” Don’t just think about food alone, but rather the greater question of how can one infuse greater quality into every aspect of one’s life. When we look at L’Art De Voir we might do well to consider The Wisdom of Tuscany (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7034969-the-wisdom-of-tuscany) and its emphasis on the pace of life, the feeling of peace and tranquility, enhancing our physical surroundings, valuing social togetherness and, of course, putting quality into our way of eating and what we eat as well. (We will explore these in more detail in an upcoming blog.)

5. Experimenting.  

Coach your clients around ways to live more consciously, more artfully, and make it a part of the Wellness Plan. Identify experiments to try out new ways of being, new foods to eat (it’s okay if you really think some olives are too sour), new ways to get together with friends, etc. Start small. Integrate new ways of living slowly into the current lifestyle. Make it part of the coaching to create these action steps, commit to conducting the experiments, and being accountable to follow through. While much of this is true fun, there can be challenges that arise that require some processing in coaching. Conflict may show up. Your client’s friends pan the new recipe or activity that they thought would be so enjoyable. The new boundaries around work and personal time get lots of pushback from co-workers. Such experiences are important to process in coaching so the client can continue with improving their lifestyle instead of giving up too soon to avoid conflict. This is why the next step is so important.

6. Gathering Supportfriends

Living L’Art De Voir is possible in Tipperary or Tulsa, not just Tuscany. The key is gathering support for one’s new way of living. An effective coach will already be working with their client around enlisting others in their Wellness Plan. Lasting lifestyle improvement comes from the supportive network that helps a person sustain their healthier ways of living. Building that network needs to be a conscious process. Before launching new experiments successful clients secure commitment from other that will be affected. Getting “buy-in” from the family on a new dietary shift can be critical to its success. Sharing with others the real intention behind a new move to set boundaries around twenty-four-seven availability helps engender support rather than criticism. Just as it helps to get a “walking buddy”, so too it may make the process more fun and successful to engage like-minded friends in these ways to culturally shift one’s lifestyle.

7. Keeping Life Artful – Maintaining

Like any new behavior, the real challenge is often in maintaining the change. Coach your client around maintenance strategies that they can develop when the lifestyle shift is still new. One approach is to anticipate boredom and have “variations on the theme” available. Keep it fresh. Don’t get stuck on that favorite recipe or it will become like a favorite song on the radio that, when overplayed, becomes annoying. Joining interest groups or classes focused on their new culture-blending pursuits may serve to reinforce interest, learn new skills and access fresh resources.

The other key to maintenance is tracking. Encourage your client to find a way to keep track of their new ways of living. Just how often are they practicing some new skill or behavior? The old habitual ways of living, reinforced constantly by the dominant culture the person is surrounded with, will re-emerge and vie for supremacy. Some clients may find that keeping a lifestyle journal works for them. Others may need to get more specific using coaching tools and/or smartphone apps.

The Art Of Living

Londoners discovered over a hundred years ago that they didn’t have to dress like people from India to enjoy a good curry and today the city is famous for this dish. We live in a world with unprecedented access to information and products about and from other cultures. The invitation is there for us to explore and to begin to consciously choose what we will integrate into our lives. Part of being well is having more choices and the world today gives that to us. The remaining challenge may be within us rather than in our culture. Will we allow ourselves to experiment, to try something new? What kind of mindset shift needs to occur for us to give ourselves permission? Can we realize that we can still hold onto our own traditions and customs and choose what else we might add? Salt and pepper over and over again is fine, but have you really looked at the rest of the spice rack?6969813-bags-of-spices-on-display-in-a-market-in-provence-spices


Dr. Michael Arloski is CEO and Founder of Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc. taking wellness and wellness coach training worldwide. (https://www.realbalance.com)

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Meaning And Purpose: A Key To Wellness

The meaning of life is just to be alive


Those in the helping professions have long observed that people who have a sense of meaning and purpose appear to do better with their lives in general and their health in particular. Research over the last ten years is showing us that our observations were spot on. A clear, if even very simple, sense of one’s values, meaning and purpose is linked with greater longevity, fewer heart attacks, better diabetes management, less depression, less sedentary behavior, less Alzheimer’s Disease, and even better sex!

In a previous blog I explored “Meaning and Purpose and the Motivation to Be Well” (http://wp.me/pUi2y-5C).  Now let’s take a deeper look at the power of this topic.

As early as 1977 (High Level Wellness) wellness author, Don Ardell included Meaning and Purpose in his model of wellness under the dimension of Self-Responsibility. “An aim in life can help you obtain the kind of rewards needed for fulfillment and balance, and is crucial to your feeling “centered” and reasonably content with your life.” Ardell notes that the famous stress researcher, Hans Seyle “believes that a goal or purpose in life is fundamental to positive health and well-being.” Ardell continued to emphasize meaning and purpose in his 1982 book 14 Days To High Level Wellness by including it as one of his five dimensions of wellness and continues to write about it to this day.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

LFIO-bigBusiness leaders, life and executive coaches have continuously linked Meaning and Purpose with better work and career performance. Kevin Cashman, author of one of the best books ever written on leadership (Leadership From The Inside Out) (http://cashmanleadership.com/leadership-from-the-inside-out/) included “Purpose Mastery” as one of his “Seven Pathways To Mastery of Leadership From Within”. He sees it as a way to lead by expressing our gifts to create value.

“Purpose gives meaning and direction to all life. It is the context that frames all of our life experiences into a meaningful whole. If we have it, all the challenging experiences of life serve to forge our identity and character.

Purpose may be the most practical, useful connection to an effective life. It is bigger and deeper than our goals. It is life flowing through us. Purpose releases energy. The higher the purpose, the greater the energy. Purpose also frees us. The more profound the purpose, the greater the sense of freedom. Purpose opens up possibilities.

Purpose is not a goal to be set. It is not something you create. It is something you discover. It calls you.” Kevin Cashman

For Cashman, having purpose allows average-performing individuals and organizations to become highly effective ones. He urges us all to live our lives “On Purpose”.

In recent years there has been more attention given to this topic in the media and in the work of people like researcher Victor Strecher at the University of Michigan (http://www.dungbeetle.org). He sees a direct connection between having a purpose in life and how we behave, particularly in terms of choices that affect our health. For Strecher, lacking a sense of purpose is just as great a health risk as any other (e.g. smoking, obesity, etc.). He believes that when we start thinking “bigger than ourselves” (self-transcendence) we behave in ways that result in great health.

Clarifying our values is a key step to developing our sense of meaning and purpose. Strecher cites research showing that cigarette smokers who affirm their core values are more open to anti-smoking messaging and less defensive about it. He also found that people are more likely to participate in diabetes risk assessments if they have just completed their values list.

Evidence of the connection between health and having meaning and purpose continues to mount. In research published Nov. 3, 2014 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Michigan researchers “found that people with greater senses of purpose in life were more likely to embrace preventive healthcare: things like mammograms, prostate exams, colonoscopies, and flu shots.” (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/live-on-purpose/382252/)

The longevity connection has increasingly found support as well. Dr. Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago studied 1,238 older adults using a sense-of-purpose evaluation. “When comparing scores, Boyle found that those with a higher sense of purpose had about half the risk of dying during the follow-up period as did those with a lower sense of purpose. And that was true, she said, even after controlling for such factors as depressive symptoms, chronic medical conditions and disability.”
“What this is saying is, if you find purpose in life, if you find your life is meaningful and if you have goal-directed behavior, you are likely to live longer,” she said.
“Though much other research has found that having a purpose in life is crucial to maintaining psychological wellness and can be important for physical health as well, Boyle said she believes the new study is one of the first large-scale investigations to examine the link between life purpose and longevity.” (http://news.health.com/2009/06/16/have-purpose-life-you-might-live-longer/)

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Small head cropped1The Coach’s Take Away

Despite the recognition of the importance of meaning and purpose in personal and professional growth, and numerous studies linking it to the previously mentioned health benefits, the topic is often absent in wellness and health promotion programming. Such programs often use a less-than-holistic approach that focuses on concrete, measurable and objective goals (such as weight loss, health-risk reduction, etc.). Unfortunately some wellness and health coaching work is done the same way. While the rigor of a behavioral approach is appropriate, we must not forget the whole person. This may be where it is good to remember that “wellness coaching” or “health coaching” is really a part of “life coaching”. Our best work comes forward when we help our client to improve their lifestyle by helping them improve their life.

Such whole-life coaching can include helping our clients to create a Wellness Plan that is based upon their values. In helping people get clear about what they truly want in life and develop a Well Life Vision, we help them get more in touch with what their sense of meaning and purpose is. Such a Vision guides them in co-creating with their coach, a Wellness Plan that will best serve them. When the client lacks clarity about their values and sense of meaning and purpose (again, no matter how simple it might be) it will be harder for them to see an imperative motivational link between the goals they are attempting to achieve to improve their wellness, and the action steps they are taking to get there.

Helping Your Client To Discover Their Sense Of Meaning And Purpose

Getting in touch with one’s meaning and purpose is not something that can be artificially injected into a coaching process. People arrive at more clarity about meaning and purpose at many different stages in life. Some folks find it in their youth, others not until the golden years. What a coach can do, however, is help their clients make the seeking of meaning and purpose more of a conscious process. For many it is a matter of getting in touch with the meaning and purpose that they already have.

1. Help your client to get in touch with and clarify their values.

Powerful questions in the coaching conversation can challenge a client to look a little deeper. “What would it look like…” questions are very effective here. “So, what would your life look like once that weight loss is accomplished?” “What would your life be like smoke-free?” “If there was nothing in the way and you could spend a day doing exactly what you want, what would that look like?” “Who else would benefit from you managing your diabetes at a truly effective level?” Also explore “What really energizes or excites you?”

A fun exercise to help your client get in touch with values is to have them describe what they would do on a vacation of their choosing. Present the exercise in a way like this: “Let’s say you have two weeks to take a vacation and there are no obstacles in the way. You can afford it easily. You won’t get behind at work. No problems. Just you doing what you would like to do for two weeks. Describe for me, in detail, what your vacation would be like.” Each person’s vacation story tells so much about them. While one person would backpack the Appalachian Trail, someone else would take an organized bus tour of the Civil War Battlefield sites in the Mid-Atlantic states. From this conversation draw out what values showed up.

2. Ask them to what degree they feel they are living their life in accordance with their values.

The Institute of Stress at McGill University (where Hans Selye did his pioneering stress research) says that the greatest source of stress we can have in our lives is to be living our lives out of accordance with our values. Be prepared for some sadness and possibly regret. Empathize and help your client explore the compromises they have made, the trade-offs, and what they are ready, or not ready, to do about this. Help them to identify what steps they may be ready to make to live the life they really do want to live. This process may have a tremendous and positive effect on their wellness plan.

3. Help your client to live their life “On Purpose”.

As you explore what is important to your client, help them construct “experiments” that can help them to be more in contact with what brings them joy. The pet-lover may want to volunteer with an animal shelter. The nature-lover may want to see what environmental action organizations are in their community. The closet-writer may benefit from risking joining a writers group.

4. Encourage Self-Reflection

Busy lives end up lacking in time for self-reflection. Putting one foot in front of the other, caring for a family, developing a career, etc., we often get out of touch with our true self. As your client values the process of exploring meaning and purpose, encourage them to keep a personal journal. Encourage them to read books that will help with self-exploration and personal growth. (Victor Frankl’s classic Man’s Search For Meaning heads the list.)

Solo-time is a self-reflection practice that can have tremendous value. This may be as simple as setting aside an afternoon to spend quietly alone as you set all work aside. Or it may take on the commitment of a personal quest adventure like The Sacred Passage (http://sacredpassage.com). You might also introduce your client to the idea of a “technological Sabbath” where they “go dark” for a day (no media of any kind, internet, texting, or even phone use)and spend the time more purposefully.

5. Make the development of a greater sense of meaning and purpose a conscious part of the Wellness Plan.

Instead of seeing meaning and purpose as something that just evolves on its own, help your client to engage in a purposeful quest to achieve a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Through the coaching process experiments and action steps can be set up to carry on this exploration. The goal is not to attain clarity on any particular timeline, but to begin the journey and do it consciously!

It may seem challenging to fit a personal exploration of meaning and purpose into a wellness program, or into a coaching process, but if lasting lifestyle improvement is what we are after, it may be one of the most valuable endeavors we can pursue.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


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Stress Coaching Part II – Recovery From Stress

Time to be still...priceless!

Time to be still…priceless!

What we refer to as “stress” is quite a mystery. Ill-defined by most everyone except psychological researchers, we ascribe devastating levels of power to it, and often feel helpless to cope with it. We know that stress is linked to worsening health, greater risk of illness and the exacerbation of most any condition we find ourselves with.

Wellness and health coaches find their clients almost always struggling to manage stress. Clients often recount how they had been successful at lifestyle change, often losing weight, stopping tobacco use, etc., until…a stressful event or change occurred in their lives. Once the stress hit the weight was regained, the smoking revived and so forth.

stress-illnessWhen we experience chronically elevated levels of stress the Stress Response of the Sympathetic branch of the Autonomic Nervous System maintains unsustainable levels of arousal in several bodily systems. This causes digestion to be inhibited, heart rate and blood pressure to remain elevated causing extra strain on the circulatory system, and higher levels stress hormones (corticosteroids) to be produced. Cortisol levels rise and research has linked this in particular to extra weight gain and more difficulty in weight loss. (http://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-immune.html)

Medical researchers aren’t exactly sure how stress increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other health challenges, but it does. For many researchers the findings don’t always put the finger on stress per se, as we can see more directly in the case of increased hypertension, but on the resultant changes in lifestyle behavior. Under more stress people tend to engage in more unhealthy behaviors – smoking, drinking, overeating, more sedentary activity, depression, and to engage in less healthy behaviors – exercise, sleeping well, taking time to eat well. It’s felt that these shifts in lifestyle contribute to the disease processes. There is also lots of evidence that higher stress has a negative effect on the immune system. (http://www.discoverymedicine.com/Frans-Pouwer/2010/02/11/does-emotional-stress-cause-type-2-diabetes-mellitus-a-review-from-the-european-depression-in-diabetes-edid-research-consortium/) (http://www.medicinenet.com/stress_and_heart_disease/article.htm)

The Health-Challenged Client And Stress

Many, if not the majority, of clients that wellness and health coaches work with are challenged by some kind of chronic illness. For these clients stress management is a vital part of the Lifestyle Medicine approach that hopes to positively affect the course of their illness.

The wellness plan supports the treatment plan.

The wellness plan supports the treatment plan.

First of all your health challenged client must be under currently active medical care. Your work with them around stress management may have an effect – albeit positive – on their physiology. This means that your coaching efforts must be coordinated with your client’s treatment team. For example, practicing relaxation training may succeed in lowering blood pressure. A client on hypertensive medication will need to have their dosage adjusted as their blood pressure changes.

To help our clients create their own way of managing stress we need to be their ally and help them to build the self-efficacy and confidence that their stress can be successfully dealt with. On a realistic level few coaches are equipped to help a client with a complex cognitive restructuring process that is more the prowess of a counselor or psychologist. We can help our clients address barriers in their lives, but we may find that a “problem solving” approach to stress may be flirting with infinity. Another brush fire springs up not long after the last one was finally extinguished.

Instead we may want to proceed with a more holistic, lifestyle-oriented, positive approach. We could divide this approach into four components:

#1 Recovery From Stress
#2 Development Of Recovery-Enhancing Skills And Strategies
#3 Lifestyle Strategies For Reducing Stress Increasers
#4 Environmental Strategies

#1 Recovery From Stress

In our previous post (http://wp.me/pUi2y-e9) we spoke about how change today has increasingly shifted from episodic change (which we are psycho-physiologically set up to deal with) to continuous change. Despite the seemingly constant barrage of information, demands and pressures today, we are still very human creatures with a nervous system that requires recovery and repair. The alternative is having stress show up in the weakest link in our chain in the form of a stress-related disorder. These often begin with milder symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, etc., but if there is insufficient frequency and intensity of recovery we often see an increase in the severity of symptoms leading to increasingly serious stress disorders such as hypertension, gastro-intestinal disorders, and even symptoms of heart disease and more.

The body has it’s own built-in counterpart to the “stress response”. It’s called the “relaxation response” (as made famous by Harvard researcher Herbert Benson (http://www.relaxationresponse.org). Eliciting this response calms the body and mind. Heart rate and blood pressure are reduced, as is the production of stress hormones. Recovery with a “capital R” would mean bringing out the stress response in some way.

Part of recovery, however is with a “small r” and that means engaging in activities that people find “relaxing” and also getting sufficient and sound rest. Taking the time to read a novel, go for a hike, play music or your favorite sport, go fishing (often a great choice for the client resistant to anything that sounds too exotic), have a cup of coffee/tea or glass of beer/wine with friends and chat, garden, or anything that the client considers fun and relaxing fills this part of the prescription. Multiple health benefits come from such activities meeting needs on physical, intellectual, creative, social and even spiritual levels.

How To Coach #1

Ask your client to list the things that they like to do to relax. Then ask them the last time they engaged in those activities. This often brings up regret and sadness. Empathize and explore. See what they may be attracted to re-engaging in and set up support and accountability to help them succeed.images

Exploring fears and assumptions about taking the time to recover may be a necessary step. Engaging in recovery time is meaningless if you’re client has too many internal barriers in the way and won’t give themselves permission for self-care. Coach them around exploring their beliefs and assumptions about taking time for themselves. Help them identify what triggers their fears and develop a different response. Are they making any assumptions about their situation at work? How safe would it be to check these assumptions out? Can new agreements be made?

It’s not unusual for clients to discover that working on improved sleep and rest becomes an important part of their wellness plan. This may become an area of focus for them and setting up goals and action steps to work on this may contribute greatly to their stress recovery.

#2 Development Of Recovery-Enhancing Skills And Strategies

There are numerous ways that your client may choose to use, once they are aware of alternatives, to enhance their ability to recover from stress and “inoculate” themselves against further effects of excessive stress. The key is not to prescribe, but to help your client find a method that is a great fit for them. Personal values, beliefs, and even prejudices that your client holds need to be respected. One person may jump at the chance to learn Yoga or Tai Chi while another person may be repelled by the same opportunity.

How To Coach #2

Biofeedback can be simple and very effective.

Biofeedback can be simple and very effective.

Help your client to explore such options as: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) (http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/); recordings of relaxation training methods such as progressive and autogenic relaxation training; recordings of guided visualizations for relaxation; biofeedback training supplied by a qualified biofeedback therapist; meditation training; classes in Yoga, Tai Chi and Xi Gung may also be of interest to your client. Coach them through the process of finding out adequate information and following through with selection and engagement. The key is to keep coaching them and make the practice of these skills part of the coaching.

#3 Lifestyle Strategies For Reducing Stress Increasers

Too much of a good thing?

Too much of a good thing?

Some big advantages in living a healthy lifestyle are the ways in which itcontributes naturally to stress reduction. Smart wellness coaches help their clients to look at how their diet is working for or against their stress level. Excess caffeine over-stimulates and can contribute to insomnia. Too much sugar causes energy ups and downs. Excess salt causes edema, and drives hypertension. Inadequate nutrition or not following a prescribed dietary program (such a for a person with diabetes) can also contribute greatly to stress. Indeed medical noncompliance can be a terrific source of stress as medications are not able to perform adequately to maintain homeostasis or deliver proper treatment.

How To Coach #3

Help your client to examine their current lifestyle behavior and explore their potentially ambivalent feelings about making changes such as modifying their diet. Coaches can use Motivational Interviewing techniques to help resolve such ambivalence. Drawing upon all a coach knows about Readiness for Change theory (TTM) will also help the client to approach change in a stage-matched way that is more likely to succeed. Simple behavioral tracking that is combined with support and coaching accountability can often empower clients to finally make the changes they need to their diet, activity levels, and self-care behaviors.

Work with your client to examine their approach to time management and organization in their lives. It’s been astonishing how many times coaches discover that clients have not been making use of such simple tools as working with a calendar, operating off of a written (versus mentally kept) to-do list. Help your client to take charge of their life by consciously working on organization and time management.

#4 Environmental Strategies

Nothing better than a place to put your feet up!

Nothing better than a place to put your feet up!

There is such an emphasis in stress management work around cognitive approaches and relaxation methods that we often overlook the environment the client experiences every day. Home and work environments can aggravate or alleviate our stress levels.

How To Coach #4

Have your client describe a “day in the life” so to speak. That is, have them walk you through their typical day with an emphasis on where they are, not what they are doing. Does it put them in touch with stress sources? Are they facing a daunting daily commute by car in high-stress traffic? Is there neighborhood safe enough to walk and recreate in? Is there household cluttered (stressful in itself) or relaxing and peaceful?

While many of our clients are faced with economic realities that may make relocating unrealistic, other times this may be a real option. Can they move closer to work and eliminate the commute? What would it take to consciously make their home more of a relaxing haven? Could they even make one room such a refuge? Other times, through coaching, clients discover that even though moving is out of the question, there are things they can do environmentally to improve their situation and reduce sources of stress.

I love to say that “A coach’s job is to remind people that they have choices.” Sometimes under the burden of stress we forget this.

Connecting with family, friends, our greater community and the natural world also helps tremendously to relieve stress. Getting our social needs met requires…well, socializing! Exercising outdoors provides more documented benefits than exercising indoors. Spending time in nature feeds the soul.

One of the most beneficial activities a person can engage in is totally unstructured time. “Drift time” allows a person to let go of the “To Do List”, let go of expectations, roles and responsibilities. Whether it looks like hammock stretching, wandering through a shopping district on your own, fishing in a river, or whatever suits your fancy, the tension seems to fade as the day goes on.

Have A Back-Up Plan

No matter what the strategy you and your client are co-creating, have a back-up plan. Something may show up and get in the way of the best-laid plans. Coach your client to come up with an answer ahead of time to the question: “What will you do if…?” Having a fall-back strategy can allow your client to still achieve their goal. Can they modify their plans? Can they exercise for 15 min. instead of not at all? Can they go for a walk during the noon hour in their work clothes instead of a trip to the gym? Do they have food stocked in the refrigerator that will allow them to prepare a quicker meal than the one they had planned?

Maybe Stress Management Is More Simple

Pioneering Life Coach Thomas Leonard was fond of saying that “A coach’s job is help people to Eliminate Tolerations and Get Their Needs Met.” Perhaps this maxim could better guide all of us in reducing stress in our lives and being well. Coach your clients around what they are tolerating, whether it is an annoying source of aggravation like a door that sticks, or the way their colleague treats them at work. Have them list all of their tolerations and explore the list together. You’ll find that a lot of what they are tolerating often results in them not getting their needs met. Under stressful demands people often put their own needs last on the list and seldom get to them. Unmet needs lead to depression, resentment, anxiety and the experience of stress. Help your client explore this and see what they are ready to do to begin prioritizing their own health and well-being.

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Stress Coaching Part I: A False Sense Of Urgency

Is time always running out?

Is time always running out?

How often do you find yourself and others around you at work and at home operating on a false sense of urgency? How often do we take action before we have all the facts, or make a decision just to relieve our anxiety? See if this sounds familiar? On Thursday, a deadline is set for Friday for a report nobody will look at it until at least Monday, if not next Thursday. A false sense of urgency drives us into a state of psychophysiological distress and if we experience this on a chronic basis our health will suffer.

Stress management is the overlooked dimension of wellness that affects our health unlike anything else. The medical world makes rough estimates that 80% of all illness is either caused by stress or exacerbated by it. Wellness and health coaches inevitably find themselves working with their clients on how stress affects the client’s lifestyle and wellness.

We are built to handle stress and change on an episodic basis. We rev up our stress response and are ready for fight or flight. Chronic stress, without recovery time, however has a tremendously adverse affect on our health, and today change, in both our work and personal lives has shifted from episodic to continuous. (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7679810-the-way-we-re-working-isn-t-working)

Continuous change is hard enough to deal with, but what about the stress that we createa-sense-of-urgency for ourselves out of our own anxiety and habit? Former Harvard Business School professor, John Kotter, looks at how organizations benefit from a true sense of urgency and are undone by a false sense. “True urgency focuses on critical issues. It is driven by the deep determination to win, not anxiety about losing. Many people confuse it with false urgency. This misguided sense of urgency does have energized action, but it has a frantic aspect to it with people driven by anxiety and fear. This dysfunctional orientation prevents people from exploiting opportunities and addressing real issues.” (http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/urgency)

Translate what Kotter is saying into your own life. How much of the everyday stress that you experience is driven by a habitual, almost reflexive sense of urgency? How many great opportunities did you miss because you prematurely committed to another course of action? How many health-enhancing experiences or self-care activities did you pass up because so many other things in your life felt so urgent?

At the other extreme it is far too easy to be complacent about our health. We too easily put off medical exams, grab the convenience foods for dinner, watch TV, and confuse our need for rest and recovery with a state of lethargy. Not only do we increase our health risks, but we also begin to let our tremendous potential to be happy slip away. Smart companies have a true sense of urgency, and so do healthy people. Kotter tells us that “A big reason that a true sense of urgency is rare is that it’s not a natural state of affairs. It has to be created and recreated.” How can we create, and recreate, over and over again, a sense of urgency that works for us, but not against us in the way we live our lives?

Medium5  The Coach’s Take Away  





Continuums often help people conceptualize better when they see a graphic representation. Perhaps we could apply this to helping our clients connect with a sense of urgency around their health and wellness, but hold back from the self-defeating behaviors (SDB’s) that come from a false sense of urgency.

← – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – / – – – – – – – – – – – -/- – – – – – – – – – – →
Complacency              Urgency                 Action               SDB’s

A Coach Approach to working with this continuum might be to have a client explore their own self-evaluation of where they see themselves on the continuum. Then using active-listening skills and powerful questions, have them explore how their current wellness efforts are working for them or against them. Is there complacency coming from real contentment, or from low self-efficacy and/or minimization and avoidance of looking at their health? Do they see their wellness as something with “true urgency” that motivates them to take action? Or, do they see their own SDB’s getting in the way and how? Are they finding themselves operating out of a sense of “false urgency” far too often?


As early as 1959 cardiologists Friedman and Rosenman identified the classic “Type A” personality and demonstrated a link between psychological characteristics and increased incidence of cardiovascular disease. One of the top three characteristics of “Type A’s” is a heightened sense of Time Urgency. Such folks tend to be impatient, to interrupt more, to walk and talk rapidly and seem to always be terribly award of how little time they have to spare. They also tend to be very self-critical and very competitive. The driven workaholic fits this description. The reality is, many of our wellness/health coaching clients also fill this bill.

When our list of demands and desires seems to overwhelm us stress grinds us to a halt. Our wellness plan gets put on the back burner yet again, and we’re back to our endless cycle of busyness. In a previous post “Question Your To-Do List And Be Well: Coaching The Urgent/Important Matrix” ( http://wp.me/pUi2y-7K) we looked at how to help our clients “remember that they have choices” and to consider both urgency and importance. Check that post out for more tips on how to coach your anxious client with that false sense of urgency.

Urgency-Emergency – A Key Distinction

Coaching excels at helping clients make distinctions that allow them to choose courses of action that are self-enhancing instead of self-defeating. One such key distinction to work with your client on is the difference between “Urgency” and “Emergency”. The sense of emergency that we are referring to here requires no trips to the hospital emergency room. Instead we’re talking about the perceived sense of urgency that makes a demand, desire or request seem like an emergency. Such “false emergencies” seem driven from three primary sources.

1) One can experience negative Peer Health Norms in their workplace or family around urgency/emergency. On a societal level it seems true that we are in what sociologists refer to as a “time famine”. Today with the push of increased technology, expectations for the delivery of results has far exceeds human capacity. Once again, emulating machines is hazardous to our health. Particular workplaces can operate out excessive competitiveness, fear and “siloing” where departments also compete instead of cooperating. Even the belief system (and therefore managerial style) of one single manager can drive a continually false sense of urgency. Families can pressure its members by only rewarding excessive performance and productivity.

2) One can experience a miss-assigned sense of responsibility. The old saying “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency in my world” must not only be remembered, but operated upon. Most conflicts can be resolved with a critical conversation around “Who’s responsible for what?”

3) One can assign excessive urgency to a demand, desire or request simply out of one’s own anxiety and/or belief system. The baseline level of stress that I’m operating on may already have me close to crossing the line from stress to distress, from functioning well to bringing on stress-related disorders and/or self-defeating interpersonal behavior. In short, I may be carrying around a level of worry, anxiety and stress that can’t handle much more. As a result I am far from centered and able to see threats, demands and requests for what they are. Instead every new brick on the load feels like it will break me.

On the other hand, coaches will encounter clients whose sense of urgency is driven more by anxiety that might be attributed to something physical, like an overactive thyroid, or to an internal belief system that has wired in habitual/reflexive responses that are deeply ingrained.

To help your client distinguish between urgency and emergency have them look at their thinking patterns.

• Are they operating on any assumptions? ASK: Do you know that to be true? How do you know that to be true? Are you filling in the blank yourself with an assumption?
• Do they have accurate information about deadlines? ASK: What is the true deadline? How much time do you really have to complete something? What are the risks vs. benefits of seeking an extension?
• Explore action vs. inaction. ASK: What are the consequences of acting vs. not acting? What are you afraid they are? What do you actually know them to be?
• Decision making. ASK: Are you making a decision here just to relieve anxiety? Do you have all the information you need (on both the factual and emotional levels) to make a well-grounded decision?

The other key to helping clients to reduce their sense of false urgency is not cognitive, but psychophysiological. The mind/body connection instantly translates our thoughts into the chemistry and neural responses of the body. Our sense of false urgency sends signals to our nervous system that are interpreted as indicating a need for our stress response to be activated. Our sympathetic nervous system arousal prepares us for “fight or flight”. Not only can we handle this on an episodic basis, it may actually prepare us to handle a true emergency very well. When chronic however, the perpetually elevated heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol levels, etc. work against us rather than for us. This psychophysiological problem requires a psychophysiological solution. In other words – relax!

Believe me, the last thing your anxious, time-urgent client wants to hear is the suggestion that they relax! For them it may be heard as a demand not a request, as a reprimand for them becoming so stressed to begin with, or a trivialization of what, for them, is a very real sense of urgency.work-relax

So, do the cognitive work first. Also acknowledge their feelings, that, for them, the urgency truly does feel intense. Honor and affirm how they feel. Then ask them if they would like to explore how often they feel this way. Is it just dealing with this issue, or are they often feeling urgency? If it seems to be far too common, ask them what they do to recover from stress. Would they like to explore ways to help them lower their overall level of tension?

You may do a little wellness education here exploring what they know about reducing stress and what they have tried. Then look at what methods of stress reduction appeal to them. Relaxation training, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, biofeedback, Yoga, Tai Chi, guided imagery, etc. are all proven methods that can help your client lower their baseline level of stress and help make them more resilient. The methods they choose have to be something they see the value in and are congruent with their beliefs and values. Practicing on a regular basis can be assisted by the accountability that coaching can provide.

In future posts we will look at how a true sense of urgency can work for us instead of against us. We’ll also explore a true wellness sense of urgency that is not fear-based and how that can combat the complacency that undermines our wellness. We will look at how to help our clients recognize the differences between episodic and continuous change and between complacency, true urgency and false urgency.

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New 2nd Edition Of Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change

New Second Edition!

New Second Edition!

In 2007 Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change became the first comprehensive health and wellness coaching book published. Written expressly for the practitioner, it quickly became the foundational book of the field and has remained so to this day. Updated in 2009 it has served as the go-to book for independent coaches, health care and wellness professionals, and is often used as a text for college and university classes.

I’m now proud to announce that our fully revised and updated Second Edition of Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change has been released by my publisher – Whole Person Associates (http://wholeperson.com/store/wellness-coaching-for-lasting-lifestyle-change.shtml) Copies are available through Whole Person (with quantity discounts available with bulk orders), and through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Just look for the beautiful new color design on the book cover image.  2nd Ed Cover - Med

Since the last update of Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change our company, Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc., (http://www.realbalance.com), has trained thousands and thousands of health and wellness coaches around the world. I’ve personally trained many, taught advanced wellness coaching classes, done mentor coaching with students on the ICF Path, reviewed hundreds of case studies and listened to hundreds of coaching session recordings. I drew upon what I learned from these experiences in my revisions of the book and feel that the new edition provides enough new material to warrant recommending the purchase of this second edition by those who already have the first. Many pages were deleted and the new total is over fifty pages greater than the old edition…over 300 pages!

All of that teaching and mentorship helped me realize where coaching students, and practicing coaches, need more guidance when it comes to coaching and to wellness coaching in particular. I found the places where students get confused, where they are unsure how to proceed, where they get stuck, where their progress slows down. Those thousands of hours taught me what coaches need to know more about.

In the new edition there is more on the actual coaching skills that wellness coaches need to be effective. Both the mindset, the facilitative conditions of coaching that create “coaching presence”, and the techniques that increase coaching effectiveness are elaborated upon. I found that coaches often need help going beyond exploration and must have skills and methods to “forward the action”.

The most important and complete revisions are found in Chapter Eight. We are told over and over again that the Wellness Mapping 360° Methodology ™ is what coaches find most valuable and in this new edition we’ve refined it much further. So many coaches just do “goal setting” with their clients. Here we show how to really co-create a fully integrated wellness plan for lasting lifestyle change. This structure and methodology allows the coach or coaching program to “get behavioral about being holistic”. We work with the whole person, including mind, body, spirit and environment (real wellness), and yet “put legs under it” with a behavioral process and tools that allow for greater tracking, accountability and support.

Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change has touched lives around the world. It is so gratifying when I hear from people across the United States and Canada about how powerful the book has been for them, both personally and professionally. Additionally phone calls, emails and wellness coach training class registrations show up from Australia, Brazil, Portugal, the Philippines, Russia, Poland, Ireland, and all over. I am both touched and excited to know that through its international distribution, we truly are CREATING ALLIES FOR A HEALTHY WORLD.

Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change, 2nd Edition

Michael Arloski, Ph.D., PCC, CWP

Michael Arloski, Ph.D., PCC, CWP

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