What is a "virtual" coach? Every week I get questions about how a virtual coach works with a student. A virtual professional stress coach partners with a student from any state (I just live in SC close to USC) and meets with him or her via Skype, Face Time, Zoom, or simply tele-conferencing (phone). There is no face to face meetings (except I deliver services to USC students on campus). My job as a coach is to guide the student through challenging areas. We explore the causes, the struggles, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We use professionally developed tools and set personal strategies that are specific to the challenge. We meet once a week for 4 weeks (to begin or end with).
Why not face to face? I designed Carolina Lifestyle Coaching and Consulting, LLC for the busy college student and the worried parents. This forum of exchange (use of electronics) and help affords flexibility, convenience, and affordability. The term "virtual" can be confusing but this is ONLY because this concept of helping students is fairly new. I am not a therapist despite having a master's degree in human behavior and social work. I am not covered under insurance plans. I do not diagnose or prescribe medications but certainly have experience in the mental health field.
I team up with my students and support them through roadblocks and towards success. Coaching works! Please visit: www.carolinalifestylecoachingandconsulting.com for a broader view of how virtual coaching helps students. Call (540) 256-2589 for any questions or reach out through email to Lori@carolinalifestylecoachingandconsulting.com.
4/28/2018 0 Comments
Our young adult children (arguably) are faced with more challenges, pressures, and worries than we faced growing up. Many when asked can’t describe “who they are” at their core. They are confused and flounder especially when there is an emotional or mental challenge such as how to handle stress, when to say "no, or how to problem solve. Here is the question: How effective are college aged kids at dealing with life and life's crap?
How well someone maneuvers through life is determined by many things, but having internal standards and a core sense of self is one crucial piece that will decide the ease or difficulty with which they cope with life. What this means is:
From what values, authentic beliefs, and personal rules do they operate each day?
If kids are encouraged to recognize and build their core strengths (moral and emotional) at a young age, they won’t flail in difficult situations. Having solid beliefs about how the world works, their place in it, individual rules about how to behave, and confidence in what they stand for all make foundation of self.
At an early age kids organize beliefs and standards into a workable system that carries them through life. They learn to trust their instincts, rely on their "I can do it" mentality, and exercise the courage and confidence it takes to put this system into practice. They learn to revise, rethink, accept, and to redirect. They learn that difficult is okay and that stress is normal. They know that they are not the mistake and the mistake doesn't determine what they stand for. They realize events happen and that there aren't always answers.
Some neuroscientists claim that somewhere in the realm of 95% of behaviors and core beliefs are pre-programmed and developed in the first two decades of life and learned from parents. If these beliefs are ones of self-reliance, resilience, and courage, the real world is not that scary and struggles are managed with success.
While things create an internal sense of self, the issue that young adults are faced with is forgetting their strengths, forgetting to return to their point of reference, and abandoning their true sense of self. This is when we see them giving into peer pressure, forming perfectionistic tendencies, forgetting self-care and how to say "no", struggling with situational depression, losing confidence in their aspirations, worrying about the small stuff, accessing joy on a daily basis, prioritizing their self-esteem, and even vacating their true position in life.
How can we help? When we allow our children to fail and own it, when we ask them to apologize, encourage them to interact, connect and engage in family and other relationships, and talk to them daily about their thoughts and feelings we are depositing in long-term insurance. Our role is to help them determine their position in life by creating self-worth, self-reliance and self-comfort.
By the time a child turns eighteen years old shouldn't they have a solid point of reference that is their compass in life? Shouldn't they have a self-monitoring system in place that allows them to lead with core values? And, shouldn’t they at age eighteen be able to instinctively feel happy and secure?
In a perfect world, yes, but there are no protections and little guarantees in this life.
The only guarantee is that there is always a home-base, a safe retreat, and an internal haven where our young adults can return when they are "tried". That place has to be built soundly on a solid foundation of self.
It is never too late to start building and securing this place of self-centered value, but it needs to be a place where intentional presence and calm is undeniable, a place where outside stresses are given little merit, a place where life's discordances seem less overwhelming, and a place where reliance on self is a natural tendency.
To encourage building a solid point of reference and develop a core sense of self, here are some valuable questions:
1. What makes you truly happy?
2. When are you most comfortable with just "being"?
3. When are you fully yourself with no outside pushes and pulls?
4. How will you be available to yourself at all times?
5. How will you be the author of your own story?
6. How will you constantly realign your actions with your beliefs and purpose?
7. How will you harmonize what you think, feel and do?
8. How will you keep clear your reality about what it is you truly want in life?
9. How will you accept that others' values and beliefs can’t change yours?
10. How will you keep your personal power or give it away when feeling weak?
11. How will you return to your values when threatened or challenged?
12. How will you know when you have strayed from your core?
I am hearing more and more accounts of college aged students who don’t know how to feel comfortable with discomfort. They can't navigate emotions, flexibly think, and to tap into resiliency. They truly believe life's challenges and set backs are meant to harm. Consequently, we see an elevation in stress, anxiety and depression.
Turns out, there is a term for not being aware of and accepting of your emotions. Having a lack of "emotional agility" is when you cannot live in the moment, read the present situation, act in accordance with your values and then respond appropriately (David, Susan, "Emotional Agility").
In order to be emotionally successful in life, kids and young adults both have to learn that pain, hurt, rejection, and sadness are normal everyday emotions. In life, there are difficult emotions and positive emotions, but neither is better or worse than the other. They are what they are...feelings. They fluctuate, visit at different times, and are felt in various degrees.
The "negative emotions" - the ones that are seemingly unbearable - don’t last. They are transient and fleeting. While they are present, it is crucial to be able to balance the positive emotions with the not-so-fun emotions and to push through the urge to resist the uncomfortable ones. Instead, become friends with doubt and uncertainty. Allow yourself to be sad. Allow yourself to be in an unknowing position. Avoiding these emotions, running from them, covering them up, and panicking merely sets the stage for depression, anxiety, and a lifetime of worry. It is a skill to be able to cope and self-rely. It is also a skill to recognize that most emotions are trying to teach you to regulate your responses and reactions.
If you ask young adults to describe what it feels like to be alone, doubtful, rejected, or scared, they’ll tell you it is the worse feeling in the world. Do you want to know why these feelings are raw and real to them?
Kids have not learned how to read their own emotions. Some don’t have the forethought to realize that in three days thoughts, feelings and outlooks will be different. They don’t know how to armor up and fight through. They haven't been taught how to build emotional strength or how to self-soothe with their own internal resources. They are used to quick fixes. They believe that feeling negative emotions makes them weak. They forget to approach emotions from a life balance perspective.
Kids want a certain outcome but not the feelings that go with obtaining the outcome.
How can parents help?
Help your students (all ages) by encouraging them to allow the pain and uncertainty they sometimes feel. Don’t heighten their emotions with your heightened concern. Listen to them talk. Have them process their feelings through you. Remind them that they are emotionally strong and able and need to invent a space between feeling the discomfort and responding to the discomfort. Have them see the worst case scenario and ask them how they will survive it. Be their voice for compassion so when they feel bad for feeling bad, you can assure them that judgement is not necessary. And...
Help them see value in experiencing all kinds of emotions:
What can they learn from the situation for use next time the same feelings arise?
What are the emotions speaking to them?
How can they become stronger through the experience?
How can they become "friends" with the fear and sadness and use this "friendship" to make them more emotionally agile next time?
No one is happy all of the time. This belief sets you up for anxiety, stress and depression. Focus on what means the most to you, what you value most in life, what motivates you and how you can believe in your abilities. This concentration protects you from the emotional ups and downs in life, helps you develop "bounce back", and helps you find joy along the way.
This is a basic explanation of some of the science behind what happens in the brain and body when we experience anxiety. There is so much more to it, but understanding these basics can help you begin to look at what is happening in the brain so you can shift thoughts from uncertainty, fear, and discomfort to acceptance. Not resisting the uncomfortable feelings associated with the thoughts all while accepting the thoughts as probably false, distorted and unrealistic can ease your physical and psychological symptoms.
This is called anxiety management. It is also called brain training or cognitive behavioral therapy. It works with practice and persistence.
February was Self-care Month at Carolina Lifestyle Coaching and Consulting, LLC. Self-care is one of the main components to our overall wellbeing. How we take care of the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical selves determines how we feel, how we relate to ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we exist.
Here are some highlights of the month.
Thank you for joining us.
Carolina Lifestyle Coaching and Consulting helps college students stress less and manage daily life at school.
Nutrition and mental health are both topics I am not only passionate about, but I almost always discuss with clients because of the relationship and effects they have with and on one another. Assessing both are crucial for establishing optimal wellbeing, but personally, I never discuss nutritional treatments of mental states. I am not a medical doctor or a nutritionist. My role with clients is to collaborate with them on options they feel may work for them. All "treatments" are left to the discretion of the client in the professional coach/client partnership.
When visiting nutritional and supplemental options for anxiety and depression in particular, I always provide clients with information that has a legitimate foundation and a solid reputation. Even in these areas of research, you will find conflicting information. It can be frustrating for the client.
Every one is unique in both body chemistry and make-up as well as in mental and emotional health. There is not a "one-size-fits-all" natural treatment or supplementation out there. However, I strongly believe in deciding what is right for yourself, doing your own research outside of medicine, and even trying something on your own - with professional guidance and caution. There are just as many risks included in treating yourself with nutrition and supplements as there are benefits. It is scary sometimes to venture into the woods of self-diagnosis, self-care, and self-treatment.
From my personal experience and perspective, I can report things I have tried on myself and I know to work for me. For instance, I knew something was causing jittery anxiety, more than the norm. I cut out caffeine and morning anxiety subsided. I know I get brain fog if I don't eat by 11:00am (not a morning eater, but a morning liquid in-taker). I space out colorful foods early on until an appetite arrives, then I eat a larger meal. When I feel a dip in my mood ( several days in a row), I discovered that flax seed oil (Omegas) is the ticket for me. That stuff is nasty. I have learned over time that too much sugar hurts my stomach. I'm talking 5 or more Oreos. If I decide to eat 5 Oreos, I know I'll be in pain. Finally, as for those weeks that I feel BLAH! (who doesn't), I really assess what I've eaten all week. I can almost always see a connection between my mood, spirits, and physical condition and what and how I've eaten or not eaten. Alcohol makes me fatigued for days. Inadequate protein makes me feel heavy. Lacking healthy fats makes me feel depressed. And, Theanine helps me sleep better! All trial and error discoveries.
In terms of anxiety, over 70% of your bodily functioning is engaged when in an anxiety episode. Depression? There are many options for increasing serotonin production in the brain. There is an abundance of research on what outside of psychotropic medications can help relieve symptoms of both anxiety and depression. [Do not stop taking meds or add anything without consulting your doctor.] Integrative doctors and functional medicine doctors can help as well. And, you can investigate on your own.
The information available for nutritional and supplemental options for mental health and overall wellbeing is overwhelming at times, but we have the power to help heal ourselves. Initiating that process and developing an interest in helping yourself feel better is all that it takes.
So, here's to doing your research and to self- healing.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.