October 11, 2021

Stress Management, Science and Strategies for Coaches

Content by Dr. Beth Frates MD, FACLM, DipABLM, a physiatrist and health and wellness coach.

Summary of the obVus Solutions Webinar available in the obVus Solutions CE Academy

What Triggers Stress?

Stress management is an essential review of the importance of managing stress in today’s living well from anywhere and everywhere environment. In a world full of triggers, stress means different things to different people. What sets one person off, may not necessarily set someone else off. The word “stress” alone can set almost everyone off. Some common triggers include jobs, relationships, finances, grief/loss, health setbacks, public speaking and more recently it could be the first travel after Covid. We have all experienced everyday triggers in our lives, but along came the pandemic and it brought a real and present danger. Existing through the past few years has been an exercise in stress management. We experienced isolation, loss of freedom, relationship challenges, job loss, weight gain (the quarantine 15), decrease in exercise and being cut off from physical contact. For health coaches, the purpose is to make meaning out of suffering and to determine the good things that came out of the pandemic.

How do we make ourselves stronger through these challenges and how do we increase our resilience to stress?

How Stress is Impacting Us

Stress has an overwhelming impact on us as individuals as well as on the overall healthcare industry. Studies show that 43% of all adults suffer adverse effects of stress and 75% of all doctor visits are for stress related ailments and complaints. If we think about the cost of all of this, American’s industry annual cost due to stress is $300 billion. About 40% of physicians are in burnout due to this health crisis. The result is a massive impact on individuals throughout this country.

We need stress reduction because stress is associated with cognitive and physiological symptoms. Cognitively stress causes headaches, insomnia, difficulty remembering things and the inability to concentrate. The physiological systems of stress are increased heart rate, hypertension, sexual and GI problems, frequent illnesses and disruption of glucose regulation.

When we are stressed the sympathetic nervous system takes over and we are in “fight or flight” mode. We are not functioning as we should be in the presence of danger. We need the parasympathetic nervous system to take over, and get into “rest and digest.” When we are in a parasympathetic state our muscles relax, our organs function as they should and our bodies are ready to sit and relax. But how do we get there with all these overwhelming pressures? Dr. Beth Frates has some effective techniques to control our reaction to these situations and create scenarios that lead to higher ground that coaches can share with their clients.

6 Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine

There are positive shifts we can create in our lifestyle to increase our stress resilience.

Exercise: Exercise can really reduce our stress levels and keep us more in a parasympathetic state. It can lower our sympathetic juices if done on a daily basis.

Healthy Eating: What we eat has a huge impact on our minds and how we manage stress. Glucose up and down spikes affect our brains and can cause a rollercoaster ride throughout the day. Unhealthy eating does not help manage our stress, it is only going to impact and add to it.

Managing Stress: Determine the strategies that best work for you to get through difficult times.

Avoid Substances: Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and steer clear of narcotics.

Sleep: Make your bedroom dark like a cave as the light blocks melatonin. Avoid blue wavelengths. Make sure your sleeping environment is quiet, use earplugs if necessary. Maintain a cool temperature between 60-70 degrees.

Relationships: How much social support your clients have has a huge impact on how stressed out they feel. Our relationships with our pets is extremely important as well as it’s proven that petting an animal releases oxytocin. Consequently, pandemic pets are happy pets!

5 Strategies in 5 Minutes

Dr. Beth Frates outlines 5 strategies to reduce stress in under 5 minutes. You can support your clients with these simple but powerful techniques on the obVus Solutions minder app as there are ME/mos (Me Moments) that specifically align with these 5 practices.

Breathe: Relax your mind and body and visualize your breath. There are no specific breath lengths and this exercise allows you to watch your breath at any cadence you choose.

Stretching: Take a break to loosen your muscles and move around a bit. Movement through flexibility work is just as important for a wellness routine as strength and cardio training.

Blast Burpee: Activate your muscles by doing bodyweight exercises. No need for weights or bands. Just use your body. Watch the obVus Solutions webinar on Stress Management and follow along as Dr. Frates demonstrates the Blast Burpee technique!

Walk: Take a break and go for a walk. Getting exercise through walking is as easy as lacing up your sneakers and hitting the pavement or trails. Walking offers numerous health benefits to people of all ages.

Mantra Meditation: During this practice you will sing, chant, hum, or repeat silently in your mind a mantra. A mantra is a syllable, word or phrase that is repeated during meditation.

Help Your Clients Discover Their Potential to Reduce Stress

The minder app supports your clients with all the stress reduction offerings highlighted by Dr. Frates. There are additional ways to reduce some of the emotional intensity people are feeling and they include getting outside. Research shows getting out into nature 120 minutes per week can reduce stress. Additional healthy ways to reduce stress are meditating, playing with animals, listening to music, laughing and expressive writing. Take the time to unplug from technology for short periods of time, and try to check your emails and messages less frequently. Use these techniques to work with your clients to help them discover a new sense of resilience within themselves, in order to identify how to respond to stress in this overstimulated world.

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