By the end of this article, students should be able to:
- develop and practice affirmations;
- reframe situations to make change possible through attitude adjustment;
- understand the importance of paying attention to the five senses;
- unlock creativity.
Mind wellness is more than mental health. It is positivity, it is attitude, and it is acknowledging that each of your five senses contributes to wellness. Creativity is also an important element to mind wellness, and it exists in everyone. Mind wellness is an area that can and will greatly influence all of the other areas of a wellness treatment plan. It does not require mega-intelligence or intellect, though some of those goals may very well be included in a client's plan.
It is very important to make the distinction here between layman's mind wellness goals and clinical mental health issues that require a professional referral. Unless you have the education and/or license, do not diagnose or attempt to treat a client in a clinical manner. Furthermore, if you are the client and your wellness coach is claiming he or she can "fix" schizophrenia or chemical imbalances or other such promises without having the necessary educational and professional licenses as proof of privilege to practice, you should run from him or her as quickly as possible because it is a scam.
Affirmations are a huge, important tool in mind wellness. With them, clients can quite literally reprogram their mind and change negative behaviors. These are not subliminal messages because the person who uses affirmations has to be active in saying them, writing them, thinking them. The major obstacle to get past is: How can this work? The second is: This feels weird. Saying positive messages to yourself, looking at yourself in the mirror to say them, and writing them repeatedly all seem rather awkward or even juvenile at first. But the longer one does them, the more belief is behind them and behaviors do start to change.
Affirmations can be designed around nearly any topic. Sometimes it can take a few tries for clients to find one that they really connect with, so do not be put off if the first few cause wrinkled noses. It is also okay to teach clients how to make affirmations on their own, so they can try different kinds to find one that resonates with them personally, professionally, and regarding whatever area of life they choose to work on.
Tips for Creating Your Own Affirmations
Have you ever heard a song on the radio and thought, "Wow, that really takes me back!" Or have you caught a whiff of a scent that reminds you of someone you once knew? Whether we are conscious of it at the time, our senses store information and can bring back memories long-forgotten. Even more amazing, the memory is usually so very clear the instant our senses awaken to it.
Tuning into touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight can unlock answers in ourselves. Say you taste something that reminds you of Grandma's homemade apple pie. Suddenly you are overcome with a feeling of warmth, safety, security, and joy. Instead of just cherishing the memory, why not look further and ask,"What can I do to create those feelings every day in my life now?" Is it a matter of surrounding yourself with more people who love you unconditionally? Is it that you want to learn how to make that pie yourself, so your own children can someday associate apple pie with all those good feelings? Is it time to let go of a long feud with your older sister so you can once again enjoy the fun and friendship you had as children?
Your senses can absolutely help you bring positive things into your life. They can also help you guard against dangerous situations. Women's intuition is not just for women. Think of it, instead, as your "gut instinct." When we are in tune with our senses, when a situation arises that just does not feel right, listen to that. Even if you cannot put your finger on what it is, it is okay to give yourself permission to trust your body.
Creativity is not an ability that only artists, musicians, inventors, and writers have. Each and every one of us has the potential to be creative. It enhances every area of life, from home, work, school, and health. Unlocking creativity is also not as difficult as it sounds. It simply takes the courage to do something different from what you usually do.
Taking an example from early childhood, we are taught to color between the lines. This is an important skill for knowing boundaries and limits. However, if your mindset becomes such that everything must be done within set boundaries and limits, you will have trouble finding your creative side.
In fact, going back to childhood is a great place to start with unlocking creativity. Think back to activities that inspired you as a child: playing with action figures, pretending to have tea parties, filling a blank page with any colors your heart desired, or spending hours cutting pictures out of magazines. It was a time before you knew there were limits to what you could do, but are there?
Obtaining Spiritual Wellness
By the end of this section, students should be able to:
- understand the differences between religion and spirituality;
- have an open and curious stance on spiritual subjects;
- appreciate the importance of individual definitions of spirituality.
There are at least two topics that many people are uncomfortable discussing, even with the closest of friends or family: religion and politics. This is because these are issues that can be so personal as to be upsetting if someone were to disagree with our views.
However, a wellness coach is meant to be more objective than a friend or family member; he or she acts in a professional capacity. Therefore, it is up to the client and coach to determine if this is an area that the wellness treatment plan should address. A note for coaches: If you already know that you never want to address religion or spirituality with clients, that should be made known up front, as it can be a deal breaker for a client.
Religion, in the traditional sense, is a set practice with stated beliefs, rules, even policies that its members are expected to live by. The beliefs may apply to how one runs a home, the different roles of family members, the type of work one can perform, the messages one should repeat to others, and so on.
More modern churches and religions are becoming open to flexibility. Some churches have done away with traditional dress codes in favor of bringing in more patrons, adopting a "come as you are" philosophy. Some churches are open to anyone at any time, whether you wish to attend once a week or once a year. There are even churches online now that can cater to those who do not wish to leave home, who are away from their home church, or simply enjoy the privacy of online worship.
If a coach chooses to address religion and spirituality in wellness coaching, he or she should adopt the attitude of curiosity. If you took even a brief look at the Wikipedia list, you will see it is probably not going to be possible for you to have much knowledge on all of those topics. If you have an attitude of curiosity, you can do research and learn on your own once clients bring up more specifics, or simply learn from them what their beliefs in religion and spirituality mean and what they want to address in that area of the wellness treatment plan.
Again, the topic of religion and spirituality is so personal as to be almost taboo. If your personal beliefs as the coach are so absolute that you cannot tolerate anything but your beliefs, you would be well-advised to seek only clients with the same faith as you, or leave it out of your practice altogether.
Wellness coaching is not an opportunity to recruit others to your religious or spiritual beliefs. Wellness coaching is about helping the clients to achieve their goals, guiding them to what is right for their lives, and growing as a person (both the client and the coach).
Because this is such a sensitive subject for many people, it is possible that the very thought of being open to others' ideas on religion and spirituality frightens you. It need not. No one is saying that you need to approve of others' views, but simply look at this as an opportunity for further education.
You may encounter other clients or people in life with similar ideals, so this is practice for that. You will not be taken off-guard, you will not have as many misconceptions and questions, and you will be able to approach the topic in a far more neutral manner than you may have otherwise.
No one is asking you to be open to extremist views, such as mutilation, magic, or unnecessary violence in the name of spirituality or religion. By no means should you ever have to pretend to agree with or even want to hear about radical views such as those. You can, however, choose to close those topics gracefully.
"I realize this is an important topic to you, but because of its intensely personal nature, it's not one that I can address in my coaching services." Then you leave it up to the client whether he or she wishes to continue with other areas of wellness coaching or seek someone who is open to those beliefs.
You may find that some people have adopted this belief: "I simply live a good life, try not to hurt others, and try to treat others the way I want to be treated." That is okay. Again, this is not about dictating the "right" or "wrong" beliefs for any one person.
Every person arrives at her or his beliefs differently. Some are raised in a particular religion, such as Catholicism or Judaism, and some have tried many different religions and spiritual practices in their lifetimes, trying to find the one that fits just right.
As a coach, it is important to sometimes read between the lines. What is your client wanting from religion and/or spirituality? Is it a connection to others with the same beliefs? Is it answers to questions they do not have, or something else? If you can read between the lines, you may be able to offer suggestions that are neutral and adaptable to fit any belief.
If it seems that a client takes comfort in rituals and traditions and is looking for something that fits with those desires, why not offer them the freedom to define such things outside of an organized religious practice? There are no rules that say one must find an already established practice and join in, adopting and believing in everything. That is where spirituality and the eclectic practices can come into play.
It may also be helpful for the coach to have on hand some faith-based referral sources for those grappling with specific religious or spiritual questions that go beyond layman's knowledge or what can be found in simple research.
Finally, remember that we are all human and all in this together. We are all imperfect beings, all on a journey that is a big mystery. Asking questions and searching need not be seen as negative, trying things, no matter how desperate a client may seem. A great deal of reassurance can be had simply by reminding a client that there are some things in life that are universal and some that must be defined and decided upon personally.