Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

What is Hope and How Do We Get More Of It?



I often read articles and blogs that have direct relevance to our work as health and wellness coaches and I find it a really growth-promoting exercise to make notes on how a different model fits with our work with clients.  


The topic of “Hope” really struck me as highly topical at a time when many people -  if not feeling hopeless - are struggling with the challenges that lie ahead – be they financial, emotional (inability to visit loved ones), or physical (yes, many, many people have been touched by Covid-19)!

We have also seen some shocking scenes of anarchism – looting, rioting and terrible violence and of course this is what will appear on our screens each evening because BAD NEWS gets attention.  What the presenters often fail to show are the numerous acts of kindness and support that are given when times are at their toughest.  I was gratified to read that research actually  shows us that when disaster strikes, altruism is the rule – not selfishness!  High five to the human race!  Apparently kindness and cooperation win out. 

Now there’s a reason for hope!

So, in order to feel more hopeful, what do we have to do?  Well, what we can’t do is sit around and wish for things to be better.  We need to take action. And create a plan.  Sound familiar?  Eric Barker talks about “scientific” hope. 

So first let’s define it.  Here’s one definition. 
“ Hope is the sum of perceived capabilities to produce routes to desired goals, along with the perceived motivation to use those routes.”  (Snyder, 2000)

Goals

People with high hope tend to have a lot of performance-based goals that are moderately difficult to achieve.  Interesting. How does that fit with how we encourage our clients to go about their change journey?  Surely we want them to succeed.  Yes however, with the The research shows that with our goals, we want a 50% chance of success.  Now by goals here, we are not referring to behavioural goals. We are talking about outcome goals.  Human nature responds better to a mix of failure and success.  Hence, BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goals). If we always succeed there is no sense of excitement and achievement; when we fail constantly we become disheartened. A mix is good!


Agency (this is where motivation comes in)

This the sense that we can start and continue along the journey towards the desired outcome.  But make sure that outcome is accurately described – somewhere.  Does this sound familiar?  A bit like creating a vision and having a strong sense of self-efficacy?  It did to me too.  And not surprisingly, using your strengths to work towards meaningful goals is essential. 

Having a Plan

We then need the “resourcefulness” to create plans and recover from setbacks.  Anticipating problems, breaking down the steps into a plan and being able to be flexible enough to come up with a new plan when you need one are all crucial skills.  Also visualisation.  We often talk about that with habit formation, but when we think about the journey we have to go on, it is better to imagine the middle section instead of the end. That’s where it can get tough and that’s where the power of our mind comes in.  The beginning is exciting and the end is a celebration. The middle is the tricky part. 

Also remember - If the plan fails,– it was the plan that was bad – not you.  Then create a new one!

How is HOPE different from OPTIMISM?   I know many of you will have been pondering that question.  There is a difference.  Optimism at times can be directionless.  Hope involves action.  And it involves us coming together to support each other and get through this time.
We will and come out the other side stronger and wiser. 

Stay safe and hopeful.  

Barker, E. (2020) Barking up the Wrong tree
Snyder, C.R. (2000) Handbook of Hope: Theory, Measures, and Applications.
 

Feeling Connected and Creating Clients in Business



When you work in an office as part of a team, you get a sense of connection each day as you interact with others and share ideas, jokes or brainstorm work problems.


When you start your own business, things can be a little bit different. 

Some people run their business from within another business such as a wellness clinic or studio, and so they experience that much-needed peer interaction. 

But what happens when you are flying solo, and operating from home?

We need a way to feel connected and supported in business so that we can find the motivation, energy, confidence and enthusiasm to persist.
On top of that, building professional and personal networks is a wonderful way to meet potential clients and referral partners who can send qualified referrals your way.

Let’s look at the various ways that solo business owners can build networks.

Joining a Health Professional Network

Allied Health professionals often have either formal or informal meetings, social events and/or online groups for the purpose of networking, referring and collaborating.
Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

By reaching out to the Allied Health professionals in your area and catching up for a cup of coffee or brief Zoom introduction, you can quickly find out which ones are ‘your kind of person’ and find out where and how these professionals network in your local area.

If you are a member of the Coaching Success Accelerator, you can find a downloadable, step-by-step process for reaching out to Allied Health Professionals. 

  • Action step: make a list of 10 practitioners in your local area, relevant to your niche or specialty area of coaching, and phone or email to book a time to chat.

Joining a Local Business Network

Your local Chamber of Commerce is an active business hub where you can meet and rub shoulders with decision makers in your community.

Their meetings are typically monthly.
Depending on where you live, your local Chamber may be quite active or not so much. 

In any case, it’s worth exploring the network to see who is involved, and to ask to attend a first meeting as a guest to see if it could be mutually beneficial.

Often, Chambers of Commerce have an active role in community projects, Council grants or industry-level initiatives that may be relevant to you (e.g. health related). 

  • Action step: Google search your local Chamber to enquire about meeting dates, opportunities to attend and what is typically discussed.

Joining a Professional Industry Association

Every reputable profession has an industry association that acts as a voice for its members.
Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

Being a member of a professional association can provide opportunities to vote on important issues, but also, it lets your clients know that you work in a serious, credible profession that has a formal self-regulation process and quality standards.

Being featured on the home page of an industry association is another way for people to find you online, positioned in a professional environment.

In Australia and New Zealand, the premiere industry body is Health Coaches of Australia and New Zealand Association.

  • Action step: Contact HCANZA to enquire about membership.

Joining a Social Networking Group 

LinkedIn is a globally-recognised platform for networking with other businesses and potential clients.

It has an advantage of being “more professional” than other social media channels, so may lend credibility and good business positioning.

You may make valuable connections for referral, collaboration or potential clients here.

There are industry-specific groups where you can network with peers in specific areas of health and wellbeing.

This is a great place to go if your niche group is a professional, entrepreneur and/or manager.

Facebook also offers support in the form of industry-specific groups, like the Students of Wellness Coaching Australia group.

Start Your Own Group 

An easy way to build professional alliances is to start your own group. 
This is a good tactic for you if you are outgoing, love people and enjoy networking (otherwise it may feel like too much work – and you’re better off joining someone else’s network/group).

In a professional sense, this could be a mastermind, a specific collaboration project, or simply a peer support group.

Or even better – you can start your own Facebook or LinkedIn group to attract potential clients.  This is a bigger job than the others, but if you are ready to build a tribe of like minded people and have the energy to show up every day, this is a good option.

There are a variety of training courses that can help you do it right.

  • Action step: Consider whether you’re ready to start your own group and find a training course to help you do it right. Or, if you are not ready, join a big group where your clients might be, and observe how it’s done.

Summary

It’s easy to feel isolated when you transition from a workplace to your own solo business.

However, I’ve listed FIVE options that you could start exploring to build professional and client networks for the purpose of feeling supported, brainstorming ideas and creating clients.
To get started, choose the one that feels like the best fit and make plans to join and explore what it’s like to be a member.

If that works well, schedule in the number of meetings or days you would like to attend (keep it small and simple!) and start getting into the hang of participating, contributing and collaborating.

When that’s working well, you may like to explore another option.

Now, it’s over to you.

What is your easiest and most obvious starting point?

Four Ways of Living Through this Quieter Time




I have purposely not referred to the term that is appearing in every publication, as information on the virus that is changing the world is abundant and to be honest, I think we all can feel a bit bombarded at times - reading about what is happening and what we should be doing.  Instead, in this short article I will focus on four areas that seem to be relevant for most people.  I realise that we are all having very different experiences of what I like to think of as a “quieter time”.  There is so much sadness and loss occurring which will take us time to recover from and emerge into the new normal - whatever that looks like.  As coaches, we like to look at the positive and reframe where we can, but it is not always possible and grief is inevitable and necessary.  However, let’s consider some of the phenomena, (skill sets, qualities) that have come to the forefront during this unusual period of history!

The need to adapt –adaptability has been a buzz word in the popular field of resilience for some time and never has the need to adapt to change been more essential. We have heard some wonderful stories of how people have reinvented their businesses into new and profitable concepts that have filled a need that has suddenly been created due to our new restrictions. 
The creativity that is involved here is inspiring and generative.  The demise of one thing has led to the birth of something new. In a similar vein, I wonder how many of us have thought of “re-inventing” some part of our own lives – be it personal or professional? The advantages of being adaptable are many, not least of which is the growth of new neural pathways as we are forced to do something in a different way!  Out of change comes courage.

Compassion – the world seems to be overflowing with it.  What an unexpected outcome!  Sadness breeds empathy and a desire to reach out and connect. There are many stories of how the public are honouring the healthcare workers, how people are supporting their elderly neighbours, how we are watching countries around the world handle their unique situation and our hearts are full of love for those people. It has been said that this disease knows no boundaries and our common humanity is bringing us together – in a way that religion (and politics) have never been able to do. The other side of compassion is self- compassion. And it is something that is also very important as we struggle to take on a new set of values, be they temporary. There is now no need to measure up to the next person. We recognise that it is the luck of the draw whether we have jobs, businesses or are left with a big gap in our previously busy and purposeful lives. It makes it easier to be kind to ourselves (and others) when we know that feeling guilty is inappropriate.  Our only choice is what to do with the new situation. But starting with self love and self care are great places to begin. Our conversations with clients are going to be inevitably drawn into discussions about how we can look after ourselves with love and kindness.

Slowing down – how interesting that many of us have a sense of the world turning more slowly on its axis. Even if our routine is the same and the pressures of work and study remain, there is an innate need to take each day easier, to calm the busyness, to stop and linger.  What’s with the butterflies? The butterfly is a symbol of hope and regeneration and there is something awe-inspiring to watch them fly past in their hundreds. Were they always there? Or have we just got time to appreciate what’s going on in nature.  

We are now spending more time with friends and family (even if over zoom) than ever before!!  We’re getting to know the minor details of each others’ lives, sharing the challenges and the small wins and connecting more than ever with both empathy and humour!  Yes, when did we ever have time to watch those videos that are sent our way? Now we are amazed at the cleverness of everyday folk who can put together something that is entertaining without taking anything away from the seriousness of the situation. How many times did you cry this week when you watched a tribute to Captain Tom or heard an artist share their talents by sending a message of love and hope through their song or film making skills?

Reflection – finally, there seems to be time to reflect. Being introspective and getting to the heart of how we are feeling, looking back to the way we have been living and daring to hope that things could be different is a daily occurrence for many. Establishing what is important to us - really? And wondering (metaphorically) whether those “butterflies” will still feature in our lives when this is all over. How can we hold on to the lessons learnt, continue to live with the quietness if only in our minds?

This is a very personal account of my experience in the last five weeks. There is also disappointment, sadness and worry ever present but it comes and goes. Our conversations with clients cannot help but change and go into a much deeper exploration of what they are feeling. What they are learning from this experience?  How they are growing, what they need to come through it intact. We can’t work with clients without, at times, sharing our experiences. This is the time to work together, to share our thoughts and feelings and to help each other stay well.  

Supporting and Upskilling Fitness Professionals during COVID-19


As I finished my last work out at my gym last Monday, I felt so very sad for all the gym owners, personal trainers, instructors and members who were about to lose, hopefully temporarily, their incomes, their interest and for many, their community. As a former club owner and fitness professional I could empathise and only imagine how hard that would be to face.  

How do we fill those gaps?  I can speak from the experience of transitioning from club owner and trainer to Health and Wellness Coach Trainer and Coach (HWC).  

There are challenges for many in today’s current crisis, but I want to focus on two.

Firstly, what do our clients need in this worrying time? We know they still need to continue their fitness program, or as close to it as they can. Technology allows a wonderful opportunity of sharing group workouts and helping people create a way of bringing regular exercise into their new routine, be it at home or outdoors (in a big spacious area). Exercise professionals can help here by providing information and support remotely. But will that be enough?

There will be many people struggling with finances with worry about parents, with fear of the future and this can lead quickly to poor eating, sleeping or movement patterns. Stress can be a big obstacle to healthy living. This is where a Health and Wellness Coach can step in. HWC’S are trained not only in safe guidelines around areas of healthy living but in understanding the need for regular connection and support at the right time, and being skilled in knowing how to have those in depth conversations. 

In the UK there is a move to train health professionals in “Better conversations”.  One website stated that “Better conversations enable people to thrive by feeling more motivated, confident and in control of managing their own health and care.” (https://www.betterconversation.co.uk.). But there is a gap between telling people how to get fit and pushing them to train harder and talking to them about more personal information. Health and Wellness Coaching fills this gap. 

The second need is for exercise professionals to supplement the income that has probably been lost with the closure of their club or gym. There has never been a better time to upskill and learn how to coach people through this enforced lock out while recognising that the complexity of COVID-19 is going to raise many questions and concerns. Sometimes they may just need to talk about these concerns and a trained ear can help them make decisions about actions they take to protect both their physical and mental health. This is where training in Health and Wellness Coaching is so very valuable and can help immediately with little investment in time and money for both the trainer and the client.  


Health and Wellness Coaching Association now launched for Australian and New Zealand coaches




We are so thrilled to be announcing that an industry association for Health and Wellness Coaches in Australia has been established and officially launched this week - Health Coaches Australia and New Zealand Association (HCANZA). This is such exciting news for our graduates and current students undertaking their training knowing that you will now have an industry body working for you, to give a “voice” to your industry, increase credibility around your practice and raise exposure and promotion for coach members. 

HCANZA as a membership organisation supported by key stakeholders, such as professional medical groups, is driving the industry focus on building and setting a credible self-regulatory framework and standard that will allow health and wellness coaching to continue to flourish.

A great deal of work has been done by the Association Chair and Co-Founder, Linda Funell-Milner in bringing the association to life and we cannot thank her enough for spearheading this group together with the Board and Advisory team.  You will see our managing director, Fiona Cosgrove, holds a place on the Board in an individual status and not representative of WCA.

What does this mean for you and why you should join?

  • Join a membership body that works FOR YOU to elevate your practice by advocating to advance the development of an Australian & New Zealand Standard that is accepted by governments, the medical and allied health professional bodies, universities and other training suppliers in our region
  • Gain Professional Recognition from an Australian industry body specific to Health and Wellness Coaching, which, until now has not been available.
  • As a full member, you will have your professional profile listed on the website under the 'Find a Coach' section.
  • Gain direct links from affiliated medical and allied health professional association websites (e.g. ACNEM, AIMA) to the HCANZA 'Find a Coach' register on our website.
  • Network and support for you and your coaching practice
And much more….

Training requirements to be eligible for Full Membership with the Association

Completion of an approved training program with the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) is a training eligibility requirement to apply for full association membership. We are really happy to say that due to our Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching being an approved NBHWC program, any graduates who have completed this (together with the Independent Study Project extra module), can apply for full membership now!  Note that you do not have to have undertaken the Board certification exam to be eligible, simply completed our training.  Our Diploma is of course also an approved program as the Professional Certificate is embedded within it.

If you completed (or are currently undertaking) the Professional Certificate and chose not to undertake the additional Independent Study Project module at the time of enrolling, we are providing all past students with access to this extra module for FREE to ensure you meet the full eligibility requirements. On completion, your certificate will be re-issued with the NBHWC approved badge. Not only will this allow you to apply for full membership for the association, but also now have you eligible to apply and sit the exam to become a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. Contact our office at info@wellnesscoachingaustralia.com.au for more information. 

Training requirements to be eligible for Associate Membership

If you are an Allied Health Professional who:
  • Holds an Advanced Diploma or higher in a health-related area, AND
  • Have undertaken professional development work in coaching (for WCA students this is completion of Levels 1, 2 and 3) and are using a coaching approach in your work you will be eligible for Associate membership.  
For more details on membership level eligibility, click here to review their quick reference guide

Level 3 certified students wishing upgrade their coaching qualifications to be eligible for Full Membership

If you have undertake studies with us in our Progressive Coach Training Pathway (Levels 1, 2 and 3) and wish to upgrade into the larger qualification of the Professional Certificate in order to be eligible for full membership, we offer a gap training program that recognises your prior studies undertaken along with prior fees paid being brought forward. Gap training requirements are reviewed on a case by case basis, so if you are interested in find out more, please contact our office at info@wellnesscoachingaustralia.com.au or 02 8006 9055 ext #1.

Membership Inclusions for Full Membership - $200 p/a 

  • Professional Recognition that your qualifications are of the highest international standards.
  • Professional profile on 'Find a Coach' listing – searchable on HCANZA website
  • Direct links from affiliated medical and allied health professional association websites (e.g. ACNEM, AIMA) to the HCANZA 'Find a Coach' section.
  • Use of HCANZA Member Logo (as defined by the guidelines) on your website and emails.
  • Discounted members rates for affiliated organisations' conferences, webinars, seminars
  • Open invitation to submit a blog article for approval and publication on the HCANZA website
  • Ability to nominate for a Board position held by an HCANZA Health & Wellness Coach when they become available
  • Advocacy to advance the development of an Australian & New Zealand Standard that is accepted by governments, the medical and allied health professional bodies, universities and other training suppliers in our region
  • Network and support for you and your coaching practice
  • Access to blogs and the latest research and industry developments
  • Quarterly Zoom Virtual Community meeting with an Expert or a Board Member
  • Monthly 'Business Hours' group discussions with a Board Member.
  • Members-only Facebook group
  • An opportunity to be a voice in a Special Interest Group (such as nursing or dementia) in the development of this new and rapidly growing industry
  • Accompanying this will be the support to assist you to increase the level of your qualifications with guidance and advice from qualified Health & Wellness Coaches.
  • Coming soon Discounted Professional Insurance

There are two other membership tiers available for those who are currently still studying, or those who have undertaken some study but have yet to completed an approved training program to give them access to the full membership. To find out more visit https://hcanza.org/membership-benefits/

Connecting with Clients Online




Even though we live in a digital world, there are so many businesses that still deliver services in a face to face environment. 

In the past week, I have spoken with personal trainers, yoga teachers, nutritionists and physiotherapists, many of whom have lost their job, their clients and their income. 
They are wondering how to pivot and cope with the unfortunate changes that have been thrust upon us, and how to keep their businesses going.
Luckily, most of those I’ve spoken with are trained Health and Wellness Coaches, so they have the capacity to pivot their delivery method and maintain their client relationships.

Coaching is one of the simplest services that you can deliver online, and it is also a much-needed service in these chaotic and uncertain times. Trained health and wellness coaches are equipped with the skills, structures and tools to help our clients stay calm despite the chaos, to adapt to change, to feel organised, to maintain some positive wellbeing habits, and to develop their own plan for moving forward. 

As a result, most of the health professionals I’ve spoken to are pivoting to online service delivery now, with a focus on interactive wellness workshops, group coaching sessions and 1:1 personal coaching sessions, all delivered via online platforms.

Let’s look at how coaching can be delivered online, and what sorts of platforms are available to help us deliver our services.

Delivering Coaching Online

Since coaching is based on individual or group conversation, it is easily translatable into the online environment.

Most coaches who live remotely or work nationally are meeting clients simply via their phone or one of the many online meeting platforms. 

They are having those important, real-time conversations that help clients develop their own strategies to start or maintain positive lifestyle changes. 

It’s easy to coach on the phone, but if you use a meeting platform like Zoom, you also get all of the body language cues and connection that come with a face to face appointment. This is great for my clients who are very kinaesthetic or interactive.

A lot of my clients like writing, and you can also coach via email in some cases! 
If clients need accountability or access to resources between live conversations, they can be provided by email, text, messenger, whatsapp, a Facebook group, or a membership portal. 

Best Online Coaching Platforms

For live meetings, there are several platforms that are easy to use and have free or low cost options. Here is a selection that suit most coaching businesses.

1. Zoom (read more)
A real-time online meeting platform that allows you to meet with groups or 1:1’s for coaching or interactive workshops.
Register for an online account and download the software, then you can meet instantly or schedule meetings, the platform is stable and well-known.

With the free version you can have 1:1 meetings with your clients for as long as you like; they can enter the meeting via a zoom meeting link or they can dial a local number to call in.
You can meet with cameras on, and can also share your screen (e.g. slides, images) or run a whiteboard and use a chat box. 

If you want to run groups of more than 3 for over 40 minutes, you’d need to go to the PRO (paid) version, which also allows you hold meetings for up to 100 participants, and to record the meetings. Higher plans are available for enterprises.

2. Skype (read more)
A real-time online meeting platform that may be more familiar to some of your clients.

You can meet up to 50 people in video calls or voice calls. You can record your calls and also use an encrypted instant messaging function.
If your clients aren’t on Skype, you can call landline and mobiles or send SMS by purchasing Skype credit. For a fee, you can also get a dedicated Skype phone number that includes voicemail, call forwarding and caller ID. 

3. Coviu Telehealth (read more)
Coviu is similar to the above platforms but is used mostly by health practitioners who connect with ‘patients’ such as psychotherapists, GP’s, physiotherapists, and psychologists.
No software is required, it’s a simple ‘click and consult’ program – it offers ‘click and go’ video calling. 

The platform offers document sharing and an online app, and there is ‘hold music’ if your client is waiting for you to finish another meeting.
Meeting quality is similar to Zoom and may be more reliable than Skype.

Prices for Allied health start at $19.95 per month.

4. Webinar Jam (read more)
Similar to zoom, a real-time online meeting platform that allows you to talk to, screenshare with and live chat with your audience.

In the Basic version ($499 per year) you can meet up to 500 people in video calls for up to 2 hours long and can have up to 2 different presenters on your account.
Calls are recorded automatically, and you get customisable registration pages, emails and SMS, and you can plug in a payment gateway to offer paid webinars to your audience.

Summary
In these times of social distances, and beyond that into reaching more people in your business, coaching via online platforms is a great way to go.

There are a lot of meeting platforms out there, but the four listed in this article have had good reviews.
My personal favourite is Zoom because I find it easiest to use, it’s the best value for my needs, and it’s reported to be more stable with fewer dropouts than other platforms.

Now, it’s over to you.

How could you pivot your business and transition into delivering a valuable online service, anywhere in the world?

How to run a business in stressful times


 
Everyone responds differently to external pressures. The way you respond depends on your personality, your thought processes and your personal circumstances.
But at the core of things, stress starts in your mind. Your perception (thoughts) determines your resilience. Resilience simply means the resources and capacity you have to cope with the circumstances around you.  

When your resilience is low, it affects your ability to make decisions, to think clearly and to be fully present with your clients - all of which are obviously important in relationship-based businesses like coaching.

When you’re running a coaching business in stressful times, there are different approaches you can take to support your wellbeing and to feel at peace with your business decisions. 

Your best approach depends on how resilient or stressed you feel. Most people will fit into one of three categories.

Three Categories of Business Owner Resilience

Category 1 – these people are feeling resilient, seeing opportunities to be of service, and feeling ready, willing and able to reach out and help others. People in this category may have fewer external pressures, may be more extroverted, or could be people who have done a lot of their own coaching around beliefs and behaviours. In any case, they have the resilience to be able to cope with stressful times.

Category 2 – these people are feeling fearful or overwhelmed, seeing roadblocks, and feeling unable to cope with the responsibilities of both business and life. These people may have more challenging circumstances, may be more introverted, or are yet to master the skills of emotional balance. They are unlikely to have enough resilience to cope with stressful times.

Category 3 – these people want to help and are seeing opportunities but becoming easily overwhelmed. They may be managing internal and external pressures but are close to capacity. They may have some skills around emotional balance and some level of stability in life. This means they feel resilient at times and are able to cope yet can fall back into overwhelm. Their resilience is ‘inconsistent’.

These are generalisations but they may help you identify yourself for the purposes of making rational decisions about what to do with your business.

Let’s look at some approaches for each category.

Business Approaches for Stressful Times

If you’re in Category 1, seize the day! Despite stressful times, you are best positioned to continue running your business or even expanding it, so that you can help others.

You may offer services that help others to;
  • Get some respite (e.g. online retreat)
  • Cope better (e.g. plans and strategies)
  • Maintain positive habits (e.g. visions and goals, accountability groups)
  • Develop new habits or routines (e.g. challenges or programs)
  • Create more joy, fun, freedom (e.g. uplifting classes or events)
Remember that showing up for others in stressful times takes time, energy and effective planning.

You may tend to attract clients who have similar resilience to you but also be mindful of others who are struggling and may have less capacity to cope with higher energy activities or sharing of information in a group setting.

If you are in Category 2, your primary concern is your own wellbeing, stability and your loved ones. 

In stressful times, you probably have limited capacity to truly be of service to your clients.

You may like to define a period (e.g. 2 - 6 months) to focus on your own physical and mental wellbeing, during which time you:
Close your business temporarily (e,g, block your calendar)
Subcontract another coach to service your clients
Reduce business activities to a minimum (e.g. working with a few select clients)
Consider Centrelink or other options for financial support if needed. Business offsets, grants or hardship payments are sometimes available.

Remember that as a business owner you may have legal obligations to clients such as coaching out their contract, refunding them, putting payments on hold or suspending memberships.

There is also the common courtesy of emailing your clients to let them know that you are taking time off, and to let them know what to expect from you in the interim.

Maybe that’s nothing, or you may continue newsletters, or you may schedule social media posts, podcasts or have a VA do that for you. Just make sure you tell your clients how they can stay connected or when you’ll be back in touch with them.

If you’re highly stressed then it’s likely you’ll be in decision fatigue, so you may find it easiest to discuss a strategy with your business coach or mentor to help you develop a clear plan going forward.

If you’re in Category 3, then your biggest priority will be emotional balance. 

That’s because you may feel motivated to make offers in the heat of the moment, or be super responsive to clients, but then realise you lack the energy or capacity to follow through with an appropriate level of service. 

You actually have the capacity to truly help people right now, but only if you are looking after your own wellbeing and being clear on how your capacity may change from day to day.

Your best approach will probably be to:
  • create a clear schedule of work and non-work activities and stick to it (e.g. a weekly plan)
  • reduce the number of clients you see each week, and set a maximum number of sessions per day
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when a client asks for help rather than just responding  
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when you get an impulse to offer help or run and event, rather than just rushing into action  
  • Automate your marketing activities.
Remember that a successful business is consistent how it shows up. It under-promises and over-delivers in value, not the other way around.

If you run your business in fits and starts, it may damage your reputation. You’re better off to dial down your activities and be consistent with them. 

SUMMARY

Those of us who serve others can fall into the trap of overhelping, overcommitting or overextending ourselves, and burning out.

The most important thing for us all as individuals is to check in with ourselves each day and reflect on how we are holding up, what our capacity is, and to maintain our own physical and mental wellbeing habits. We must do this to meet our own needs and to have the capacity to serve others.

The most important thing for any business - in good times and hard times - to be is consistent. Consistency builds a sense of trust, reliability and professionalism.

In times of stress, I encourage you to reflect on your resilience and make a decision as to what your business approach will be. Decide how long you will do this approach for. (E.g. 3 months? 4 months?) then take the appropriate actions.

You can revise your plan at any time but definitely at the end of your defined time period and get clear on how you’re feeling and what you will do next.

If you need support with your business in stressful times, these resources may help.

Summary of state-by-state stimulus measures

Australian Tax Office information for COVID 19

Business support for sole traders

Small Business NSW (includes info on financial hardship and bank loan deferment)

Business QLD (includes information on economic relief, payroll tax relief,  power bill relief and support facts)

Business Victoria (includes different support options including low cost business mentoring)

Telstra small business support
 
Tips for coping with COVID anxiety (Psychology.org, includes a list of resources)

11 Step Brain Sweep


Today we share a short podcast from Habitology on the 11 Step Brain Sweep.

This is simple process to clear heightened emotions and help you clear mental clutter. This 11 step process can be used to work through any difficult emotional feeling, when you are really in the thick of things.

Listen to the podcast below where Melanie will talk you through this process. 


Positivity Practices for Difficult Times




Right now, a lot of people want to feel happier, less anxious, calmer and generally to be able to cope better with these challenging times.

The great news is that we have a variety of tools available to help us get there, courtesy of Positive Psychology.

Dr Barbara Fredrickson started the positivity movement with her initial research in 1998. Her theories and models have seen an explosion of debate and further study into what makes us happy and feel more positive.

One aspect of Barbara Fredrickson’s positivity research is the of positive emotions – a key part of happiness and wellbeing. This theory involves two parts:
  1. Positive emotions have a broadening effect – they allow us to be intentional, creative and agile.
  2. Positive emotions have a building effect – when we broaden our perspectives and actions, we build lasting physical, intellectual, psychological and social resources – in other words, resilience.
People who are happy have many positive traits such as better coping mechanisms, a longer life and better health.

To sum it up, positivity underpins success in any are of life and makes the journey to get there easier. But it also helps us manage the difficult times more effectively, to build our resources and resilience, to cope better and to stay calmer.

Positivity Practices

Here are some practices that can help you to start reducing negativity and to start increasing positivity, too. A good starting point is to pick one or two of these that are attractive to you and to use them once or twice this week.

Reducing Negativity
  • Dispute negative thinking – challenge your mental ‘catastrophes’
  • Break rumination with a healthy distraction, like a crossword
  • Work with a coach
  • Use a mindfulness practice such as meditating, being in nature, or admiring a piece of artwork, or an absorbing hobby
  • Reconstruct your day to avoid negative ‘land mines’ – circumstances that trigger negative emotions*
  • Assess your media diet 
  • Stop gossip and sarcasm
  • Find ways to deal with negative people 
          - modify the situation (e.g. behave differently)
          - attend it differently (e.g. change your focus or perspective), or
          - change what you make it mean (e.g. reframe/silver lining).

Increasing Positivity
  • Be sincere
  • Find positive meaning 
  • Savour goodness
  • Be grateful / keep a gratitude journal
  • Perform an act of kindness
  • Follow your passions
  • Dream about your future/connect with your why/vision
  • Use your strengths
  • Connect with others
  • Connect with nature
  • Open your mind and heart
There are many easy-to-use practices that can help you to manage your emotions in difficult times, and to feel more positive. Which ones will you try this week?

How to be resilient in uncertain and stressful times




Health and Wellness Coach and WCA graduate, Jason Nikakis from Vital Lifestyle Coaching shares his strategies on increasing self care and managing resilience in this current health climate.

As a health and wellbeing coach I help people build their physical, mental and emotional resources to meet life challenges. Over the last month I have been deploying all that I have learnt in the last 30 years of working in health and fitness. This has been identifying what is within my circle of control, taking action and calling on those resources that have me be as resilient as I can, in the face of uncertainty.

Some of you may already know that I have been amidst a family health crisis, with both parents currently in hospital, a wife that has a chronic health condition (reliant on immune suppressing medication) and the emerging uncertainty of COVID 19. I have had a few sleepless nights to say the least! I have also made it a non negotiable, to maintain and indeed increase my self- care behaviour, that has me be the most effective and resilient in these eventful times. 

Here I would like to share my top 6 strategies.

Keeping up my exercise has been essential.  I know that activity is my best prescription for managing stress. When in “fight and flight” having an outlet for my adrenalin and cortisol is essential from turning and acute event into a chronic health issue. We know keeping up exercise and a healthy lifestyle is key for managing chronic stress and it’s negative effect on our immune system. It also help me mange my mood, and allows me to think more clearly and stay solution focused. 

Maintaining “healthful” eating. Choosing foods that both nourish me and maintain health- whole foods, especially fruit and vegetables. When extremely stressed my tendency is to miss meals. Fortunately for me, my wife has been supporting me in maintaining energy and sustenance.

Mindfullness practice has been something that I have previously struggled with. Over the last 5 months I have made a conscious effort to develop a routine around mediation. What has worked for me is starting small and attaching the habit to an already existing routine. First thing in the morning when preparing my percolating coffee, I sit on my meditation stool and listen to a 10 minute guided meditation. My other strategy is to punctuate my day with a few deep belly breaths. I have also tried to link this to daily rituals, like brushing my teeth, washing my hands, or waiting for a traffic light. The benefit is that I can create some space between racing thoughts or tumultuous emotional states. This space helps me chose actions that are more in alignment with my values and gives me a sense of calm when sailing in a metaphorical stormy sea.

Maintain good sleep and restorative processes. During uncertain times keeping a routine is critical. Having good sleep hygiene and maintaining a constant bedtime and awake time is one thing I can control. Having some soothing activities that help calm a stressed and aroused state, has been important for me when trying to fall asleep. This is sometimes a hot shower, essential oils, white noise, guided mediation,  or an audio book/  podcast that takes me to a happier place.  

Do something that gives you joy. I am lucky to have an energetic and creative 4 ½ year old. There is nothing more delightful that seeing the world through his eyes. Lately building a rocket ship (photo) out of boxes and completing a jigsaw puzzle has helped me focus on other aspects of my life that are not filled with angst. If you don’t have a young child, try an activity or hobby that helps you reach a state of flow. I love to be in nature, however getting away is challenging at present. I am currently getting my nature fix by walking in the park, gardening and lying under my gum tree.

Connecting with loved ones and community. Even if you are unable to do this in person, getting on the phone or using technology like facetime or skype to share, all that is important and going on in your life. This is critical for all of us physically, mentally and emotionally. It also helps us remember that we are all in this “life experience” together and are part of a greater community.
 
Finally I always come back to this….
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”
 
One thing that is within my circle of control is choosing actions that are in alignment with my values.

At this time I stand for being: compassionate, caring, accepting, calm and healthy J



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