The holidays are tied to feelings of happiness, love and connectedness, but they can also bring on fatigue, stress and irritability, according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association. In fact, 38 percent of the people surveyed reported an increase in stress during the holidays.
You and Your Clients are NOT Alone! Everyone Experiences Holiday Stress
The thing is: everyone experiences the holidays in their own unique way. As a coach, it’s important to understand that not all of your clients are heading into the holiday season with positive feelings. With that in mind, we put together a list of five common holiday stressors and tips to help guide your clients to thrive through the season, no matter what.
Help Your Client’s, but Don’t Neglect Yourself
Side note: while it’s easy to put all of your energy into your clients this season, it’s also an important time to manage your own stress. As the old adage goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup and there’s no more relevant time for this advice than the holidays.
5 Coaching Tips to Help Your Clients Cope with Holiday Stressors
1. Manage Strong Emotions
Spending time with family can feel like a blessing, but can also stir up some heavy emotions. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, have your clients practice awareness of their feelings. Ask your clients to take note of how they feel when difficult emotions begin to rise, and then help them find practices that can support them through these experiences.
A few useful practices for working with emotions include meditation, which can help your clients parse out the sensations of strong emotions and the story lines attached to them. Spending time in nature is also a solid go-to, which can help them reduce anxiety, aggression and stress, and improve feelings of happiness and setting boundaries around family time.
If your clients feel difficult emotional sensations arise when their family is in town, they’ll already have tools in place to help them stay grounded.
2. Destress Holiday Preparations
Many people catch a serious perfectionist bug around the holidays. From preparing the ideal menu to getting just the right gift for loved ones, the holidays might have your clients stretching to reach the unachievable. Perfectionism is on the rise, is actually impossible to achieve, and can lead to conditions like depression and anxiety, eating disorders, chronic fatigue and more.
If your client is wearing themselves thin trying to do it all this holiday season, work with them to set boundaries about what they agree to take on. Encourage them to ask other family members for help with overwhelming tasks, and foster positive self talk as they work hard to bring cheer to their family.
3. Strengthen the Immune System
Spending time indoors with people traveling from all over the country, on top of stress levels and indulgence, can be a dangerous combination for getting sick. Respiratory illnesses like cold and flu thrive during the winter months.
Help your clients avoid getting sick by working to build strength in their immune system before heading into the holidays. A few immune boosting tips include getting proper rest, reducing stress, eating a fiber-rich diet, and getting a healthy daily dose of immune boosting nutrients, like vitamin C, zinc and vitamin D.
4. Moderate Indulgence in Foods and Alcohol
Holiday parties are fun! They’re also a ripe environment for overindulging in sugar, alcohol and refined carbohydrates. This is an excellent time to remind them that moderation is key to avoid weight gain, fatigue and sleep problems. In the long term, overindulgence of these foods can lead to chronic disease.
Work with your clients to create boundaries around holiday parties and use them as testing grounds for embedding healthy habits into the fabric of their daily life. Work with them to maintain a consistent blend of healthy eating and exercise that still allows them to partake in joy of the season. You can also help them plan ahead to get back into the swing of healthy things in the new year.
5. Prioritize Mental Health
A survey conducted by the National NAMI found that 64 percent of people with mental illness report the holidays make their conditions worse. Even if your clients don’t have a diagnosed mental illness, high levels of stress and fatigue are enough to warrant focusing on mental wellness in a big way during this time of year.
Encourage your clients who struggle with mental illness to continue working with their therapist over the holidays and gently remind them to closely monitor their mental well-being. Health is a holistic construct, of which mental health is an essential component.
You can also work with your clients to build up their mental wellness by savoring their favorite winter self-care practices. Self-care doesn’t have to look like an essential-oil-infused bubble bath (though it certainly can!). Ask your clients to identify a list of activities that makes them feel replenished, and make sure that their health coaching plan carves out time to make these practices a reality.
The bottom line is that with a little bit of preparation, your clients can thrive during the holidays. These practices can come in handy at any time in the year, as life can throw out unexpected circumstances in any season. Helping your clients learn to stay healthy in the face of stress and adversity helps them build a lifelong skill that can increase their quality of life for years to come.
Join Health Coach Institute’s Coach Mastery Program
As a health and wellness coach, you are probably always looking to better yourself, in addition to helping your clients. That’s the kind of mentality that helps a coach become the best version of themselves, and ultimately, become a coach that can truly help others grow. As part of the Coach Mastery Program, you will learn coaching skills beyond the basics, to provide you “out of the box” thinking. Find out how the HCI can help current and aspiring coaches by scheduling a consultation with a team member!