What is anxiety coaching?

If you’ve ever felt the flutter of butterflies in your tummy before a date or shaky hands before a presentation, you’ll know what it feels like to be nervous. If I had to describe how anxiety feels for me, I would say it’s like feeling nervous, but a lot stronger… and it often comes up for no ‘real’ reason at all. The butterflies become a flock of birds rattling throughout my body and the shaky hands morph into chronic headaches, nausea and chest pain.

My thoughts also change from rational and calm to panicked, fast-paced and disconnected. Thankfully over the years I’ve learnt various tools to help me manage anxiety. There are lots of places you can turn to to find these tools, from counselling and self-help to anxiety coaching. 

If you’ve not come across anxiety coaching before, don’t worry. Here four coaches who help with anxiety break it down, explaining how it can help.

Coaching for anxiety

Donna Pereira is an executive life coach and occupational therapist. Here she explains how coaching can help reduce anxiety symptoms.

Coaching can be hugely beneficial to people who are experiencing anxiety. Anxiety can occur for a specific reason or a culmination of reasons, sometimes you may not know what has triggered your anxiety response. 

Coaching can help you manage your anxiety by formulating a plan to reduce the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Coaching helps you identify your underlying values, beliefs and behaviours that both feed the anxiety and those that reduce the anxiety response.

For example, if you are struggling with worrying about health problems and you Google symptoms daily, this is feeding the anxiety response. In coaching you can identify more positive ways to manage your anxiety, so the goal may be to go for a walk, do breathing exercises, remind yourself not to search the internet and change the pattern that is feeding the anxiety. 

The next step is to create positive beliefs and behaviours that produce the opposite of the anxiety response. As an outcome of coaching anxiety symptoms should reduce, so if someone starts at session one with a 9/10 score for anxiety, this should be reduced over three to six sessions.  

In coaching you have a safe space to set goals and create a plan to manage your anxiety. It differs from counselling which provides a space to explore past events in more detail – coaching acknowledges the patterns and beliefs from the past but does not focus on them, instead it focuses on present and future goals, supporting the person to move forward.

Joe Roe is a mental health coach. Here she highlights the link between anxiety and self-esteem, and how anxiety coaching can have a positive impact on your confidence.

We all have times when our inner voice and opinion become unkind, when we lack confidence in our self-worth and abilities. Low self-esteem can feed anxiety, sometimes causing long-term stuck patterns in thoughts and behaviours. 

You may experience self-talk such as ‘I’m not good enough’, putting too much pressure on yourself, a life event impacting you, or taking on the beliefs of others. Unhealthy ways that you may be dealing or coping with this include avoiding things, hiding yourself away, talking negatively of others, having a pessimistic outlook on life or drinking and smoking more than usual. 

In coaching, we work with self-limiting beliefs so that you can shift yourself to become kind to your mind.

We all have self-limiting beliefs that hold us back or no longer serve us. The benefit that coaching brings is that you can remove these self-limiting beliefs to build new solid beliefs, with evidence to support and strengthen them. It can be useful to put things into perspective too, by asking yourself ‘What would a good friend, relative or someone you value, say are your top three qualities?’ 

Coaching allows you to raise your awareness of when your inner critic is coming up so you can flip your mind switch to instead recognise and pay attention to your strengths, values, resourceful thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Outcomes you can expect from this work include reduced anxiety, increased inner confidence, stronger resilience, healthier habits, improved relationships, greater sense of achievement, and acceptance of yourself for the unique wonderful individual that you are. 

Claire Elmes is an emotional well-being consultant. Here she discusses the benefits of coaching for anxiety, especially during the pandemic.

During COVID 19 we have used terms such as ‘Coronacoaster’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ and I’m sure everyone can relate to the highs and lows of the current situation. Many of us are actually at ‘burnout’ suffering symptoms such as anxiety and fatigue. When these struggles start to affect your day to day functioning, and you feel unable to make changes on your own, it is time to get help.

There are differences between types of support such as life coaching and therapeutic approaches for anxiety. Usually if we know where the anxiety has come from, especially around a traumatic life event, therapy can be more useful looking at the past to help the present and future. Life coaching focuses very much on how to work through the anxiety in the moment and working towards future goals. Or you might be lucky to find someone that does both!

I wanted to give you five benefits of coaching to alleviate anxiety:

  1. Identifying what is causing your anxiety. This sounds simplistic but its often not the problem you think it is. Having someone tailor specific questioning to your situation helps you to look at what is really the problem for you.
  2. Recognising blocks/limiting beliefs and being supported in breaking free from them. 
  3. Setting realistic goals and creating small steps to get there.
  4. Obtaining insight, increasing confidence, creating small shifts and realisations that you can do it.
  5. Accountability, professional guidance and support. It is so hard to make goals, stick to them and work past ‘sticking points’ alone.

Nick Rothengatter is a life coach and ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) therapist. Here he explains how anxiety coaching for young people can help.

We have many things to worry about. Worries about ourselves, such as: am I getting my GCSEs? Will I ever get a job? Am I too fat? Worries about others: does he really like me? I don’t really fit in here. Then you have all your responsibilities on top. School, friends, chores, and sometimes even extracurricular activities. 

Add into the mix the constant pinging of your phone, showing you the latest trends and looks you feel you have to keep up with. No wonder you feel nervous. Anxiety has become so common in modern life, that one in five young people nowadays report anxiety at a level that makes them feel so worried or stressed that they cannot study, socialise or sleep.  

The good thing is that life coaching and acceptance and commitment therapy can teach young people to develop a different relationship with the stress and fears that inevitably show up in life. A relationship that teaches them to look beyond avoiding or running away from fears, because anxiety is not the enemy. You can willingly choose to feel anxiety to do something you care about. Because that’s what life is about. Doing something that you care about, not living the life of anxiety. 

Not sure if counselling or coaching is right for you? Take a look at our guide to help you understand which approach could be best suited to you. If anxiety coaching feels like the right fit, you can use our search tool to find a coach offering anxiety coaching today and start adding to your toolbox.

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Written by Kat Nicholls
Kat is a Senior Writer for Life Coach Directory and Happiful magazine.
Written by Kat Nicholls
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