In last weeks COACHd, we introduced the subject of how we as coaches should have an awareness of working with Mental Health. We shared some contact points, as well as a story about ALGEE (the action plan – Assess, Listen, Give, Encourage, Encourage).
We continue on this theme this week as we start from a slightly different tack – one of self care.
“We all have mental health, and whatever our circumstance this outbreak is going to have an impact on how we think and feel about ourselves and the world we live in. Good work is great for our mental health and it’s important that we preserve the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of work wherever we can.”
(Source : Mental Health Foundation)
Perhaps glaringly obvious, we also need to be aware of the impact that the pandemic and the massive changes we have experienced affect us. I was on a call yesterday with a good friend. He was explaining that he is engaging even more with meditation, exercise and stoicism. By practising these, he is more in control of what is and can happen. (The Daily Stoic is a good start).
As Epictetus said
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .”
Extrapolating this into our life can reduce anxiety. Perhaps we are concerned about what the future holds. Epictetus reminds us, we should focus not on ‘uncontrollable externals’ but on ‘choices that are my own’.
- I find that the news extenuates the negativity that this pandemic is bringing. Pictures extend the visceral impact of the narrative. Perhaps listening to the news on the radio could be enough, or perhaps disassociate from the news entirely could be a welcome choice.
- Social media networks extend the positive and the negative aspects of living. Are they useful to you? Do they perpetuate a feeling of isolation, insecurity or insufficiency? I am reminded that I can take a choice as to which social manipulation I choose.
- The pandemic and the ‘rules’ are having an impact on the way that I live, people I see and when I see them. However, there are some things that are within our choice – our reaction, how we turn up and our actions.
A model – Tonglen
There is a Buddhist practise called Tonglen. This is the breathing practice of sending and taking. With every in-breath, we take in pain, and for every out-breath, we send out relief.
Breathing is a powerful meditative technique that we can adopt to quieten the inner demon, to retrain focus, and to achieve peace.
But Tonglen breathing is not just the process of taking in air. As CHÖDRÖN says
“Breathe in feelings of heat, darkness, and heaviness—a sense of claustrophobia—and breathe out feelings of coolness, brightness, and light—a sense of freshness.
Breathe in completely, taking in negative energy through all the pores of your body. When you breathe out, radiate positive energy completely, through all the pores of your body.”
I will sign off this week with a final quote from Epictetus.
“You become what you give your attention to…If you yourself don’t choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will.”
If you have anything that you want to share on this subject, please let me know – fully attributed of course.
The next 7 months are now published here. Mark the dates in your diary and I look forward to seeing you soon.
The next session is THIS MONDAY and is centred on learning about and practising Gestalt coaching.
As usual – book on here.
A book has now been released entitled
‘Empowerment in Health and Wellness’. It brings an approach on the mind-body connection with relation to stress and anxiety reduction, building motivation and personal leadership and enabling people to respond to the needs of their current reality.
Thanks to Sue Jackson (one of the authors) for this detail.
Access a really good magazine on coaching. Choice magazine is a quarterly delve into topical coaching subjects. It is available digitally, in print and as both so check out more info in this great coaching magazine here.