We are facing uncertain times. There is a bombardment of data, we humans, are in danger of becoming overwhelmed and overloaded. Fears of threats, some unknown, real and/ or imagined

Yet, we are designed to accommodate threats; to handle the immediacy of the “brown bear” and to return to a state of relaxed, alert calm where we go about our lives, with others, with purpose and joy.

Coaches are humans too. We too can get overwhelmed; feel we need some time out and want someone to nurture us rather than us doing the nurturing. In supervision I have noticed how often coaches will pause and acknowledge how their own self-care needs some attention. Compassion fatigue is recognised in caring professions where we put our own health and needs behind others around us.

With so many challenges and stressors facing us, the need for those of us in caring professions to look after ourselves has never been greater or more imperative. We know stress exacerbates mental ill health conditions; we recognise that stress can have negative impact on our mental and physical health. Too much stress and our immune system can get compromised.

We, coaches, have a privileged role in society right now, and for the foreseeable future. We find ourselves in unique positions of trust where we sit alongside our clients in support of their best thinking, smartest action, and nourished self. We care. We want to make a difference.

We can also help smash the stigma about mental health, so it becomes OK to reach out; to seek appropriate help, and to know that right now many of us need a bit more help to be our best. When we are reluctant to show our vulnerability, or are ashamed to acknowledge our darker, sadder, less optimistic moments, we contribute to a world that says, ‘it’s not ok to not be ok’.

  • Are you equipped to notice early warning signs that someone is moving towards mental ill health?
  • Could you hold a psychologically safe space for a client to express their sadness; despair; vulnerability; desire to be taken care of?
  • Are you willing to challenge stigma and ill-informed actions?
  • If you were aware that a client needed other forms of support, do you know who to suggest? Do you know how to signpost someone to that help?
  • Even more importantly can you answer those questions for yourself?

We have a role to play that is born from integrity, compassion, the desire to support humanity and the courage to be the best we can be. We can be a force for good in enabling good thinking, appropriate behaviour, calm, and realistic optimism. We can only do that when we have taken good care of ourselves first and made sure we are well informed with evidence-based facts.

Overwhelmed and overloaded? Never underestimate the importance of nourishing and replenishing yourself. This is not an act of being selfish. It is smart. It means you find those resources that can bring you the support that you need. There will be much for us to do in the coming months and years. Find ways to learn more; connect well; sustain your energy reserves.

Overwhelmed and overloaded? was written by Anne Archer, PCC, MSc Psychology of Wellbeing, Coach, Supervisor and passionate advocate for smashing the stigma of mental health

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