5 ways coaching can help you overcome anxiety
The idea of booking a coach to help with anxiety may seem a bit off the wall to some. How do you coach for anxiety?
We tend to think of coaches as being there to help you achieve the big goals in life. You hire a coach to help you find your purpose. A coach might help you set up your own business. He or she might help you get fit, or lose weight, or improve your health. Coaches are usually thought of as goal-oriented – ticking boxes on the way to success.
But sometimes the biggest goal in life can just be to confidently face the future.
It may simply be about waking up with excitement rather than that feeling of dread. You may simply need help to overcome your fears and feel that you can handle life. For some, fulfilling that goal would set them free to explore all the other things they want to achieve in life without constantly breaking into a cold sweat or having a panic attack.
Benefits of an anxiety coach
Here are five ways having an anxiety coach could make a difference to you.
1. Be clear about the objective
One of the first things a coach will ask you in a session is, "What do you want?" A coach is interested in outcomes and getting really clear about exactly what would be a success for you.
Many people focus on things that they don't want: "I don't want to worry so much", "I don't want to be scared all the time" or "I don't want to feel sick when I have to speak in public".
For coaching to be successful, it's usually better to be clear on some things that you want. It is difficult to actively visualise not being able to do a thing. Far better is to get a clear picture of yourself living in the way you do want. This is about setting the goal, and getting that picture is the first step. There will be a bit more work to follow. You need to ensure that the goal is achievable and then start to get an understanding of the steps that will get you there.
2. Understand yourself better
Part of any coaching journey involves learning about yourself along the way - what drives you. You will learn how your experiences may have shaped the way you think about the world. You can also learn ways in which you can reinvent yourself and rethink the beliefs and attitudes that affect your anxiety. There will be an opportunity to rethink the way you talk to yourself and others too.
3. Thinking ahead in a balanced way
When we are anxious we tend to think about future events in an unhelpful way. Of course, it is absolutely right to look for risks and negative outcomes when we are about to do something unusual or adventurous. A coach may help you be clearer about how to look forwards in a balanced and appropriate way. You may learn to distinguish better between risks that have a big impact on you, and things that are less significant.
For the bigger things in life, there are strategies around decision making and analytical ways of looking at things that enable you to make balanced decisions.
Ironically, sometimes the reason we are anxious about something in the future is because we haven't looked at the potential negative outcomes properly. We haven't followed them through to their conclusion so that we can properly weigh up how much impact they would have. A coach can help you do this.
4. Managing effective habits
There is a wide range of daily, weekly and monthly behaviours and thinking habits that are known to help with anxiety. I have produced a workbook of some of the best of these techniques – The Anxiety Habits Journal. However, I know, from working with anxious clients over the years, that the nature of anxiety means it is sometimes hard to maintain these habits without help. When you are in a state of anxiety, it is difficult to step back sufficiently from your emotional state to be able to put these strategies in place.
A coach can help you maintain these habits by making you accountable, and by offering you ways to build habits more consistently. The best coaches may even be there for you at the end of the phone at times of real need.
5. Measure success
The goal and outcome orientation of most coaching means that your coach will help you set out some clear milestones for yourself. These will be smaller targets and experiences that help to prove to yourself that you are getting better. This is important for those suffering from anxiety because it is often difficult to be aware of your progress. When we feel okay, we tend not to notice!
This is just an overview of the kinds of things you may expect from an anxiety coach. Many coaches, whatever their specialism, will have skills, experiences and qualifications in other disciplines that can have a huge impact on overcoming anxiety. Neurolinguistic programming, cognitive behaviour therapy, hypnosis and Timeline Therapy, for example can often help with anxiety. You may also learn mindfulness techniques, breathing techniques and other approaches.
For those experiencing very severe and debilitating levels of anxiety however, or having suicidal thoughts, it is vital that you approach your own doctor.