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  • Olivia Standbridge

Accidentally coaching my anxiety and stress

Let me introduce myself. My name is Olivia and I am life-long worrier. I have an uncanny ability to make a mountain out of a molehill and catastrophise like there is no tomorrow.

I don’t just like to worry about myself. I also like to worry about other people, for other people and on behalf of other people. It’s exhausting. Over the years I have had several therapists and counsellors to talk through my problems with. I have also taken medication from time to time under the care of a doctor. This has helped deal with where my mental health problems have stemmed from and provided coping mechanisms which allowed to carry on with my life, go to work and get by relatively comfortably. What I personally didn’t get from therapy/CBT/counselling/medication was a desire to expect and achieve more from life. I was OK and for a while that was enough. After a few years I started to feel that just being OK wasn’t enough anymore. I needed something more. I needed to find out who I really was, what I enjoyed, what I was good at and get to a happier and more fulfilled place.

I had some experience of workplace coaching through working in HR and even studied coaching as part of a Human Resource Management qualification. I started looking into life coaching and signed up with Animas Centre for Coaching to do their ICF accredited diploma in Transformational Coaching. As part of the qualification I was coached myself and saw how powerful it was. I had all the answers deep inside me but without a coach asking me the right questions and challenging me I couldn’t access or fully explore my thoughts to reach the answers. I read books on CBT, TA, person-centred theory, narrative coaching and NLP. I practiced coaching on fellow trainee coaches and real-life clients. Soon I was working as a life coach.

In my personal life I was practicing being more present and mindful. I took walks, went on runs and bike rides and took in the sights, sounds and feel of nature. It wasn’t long before I noticed that I felt a lot less anxious and stressed. Yes there were still some worries and concerns but instead of taking those thoughts to the worst possible outcome inside my head I was having rational conversations with my internal dialogue, making plans, coming up with solutions, and, at times, just accepting and then letting go of the worry because actually it didn’t matter. I had reached somewhere that I had never managed to reach through therapy and counselling. In hindsight, at the height of my mental health problems I don’t think I had the energy to work on myself at that kind of level. Through coaching and selfcare I was envisaging ambitious goals and achieving them. I was a nicer person to be around. I was more positive, less judgemental and the happiest I had been in a very long time. I was trying new things and growing as a person.

The funny thing is, I have never been coached on my anxiety or stress. I was coached on a goal I wanted to achieve. I was coached on subjects like procrastination and confidence. I was coached on my debilitating limiting beliefs. I was never coached explicitly on any mental health condition. My anxiety improved because I was working on myself and taking positive action in other areas. I didn’t let it hold me back from achieving all that I wanted to achieve.

If someone is struggling with a mental health condition, I am a big advocate for talking to someone (e.g. a therapist/counsellor/doctor/support worker) and getting help. Everyone has mental health in the same way that everyone has physical health. Sometimes your mental health is in a good place, sometimes it isn’t. When it isn’t, ask for help.

If someone strives to get more out of life, I am a big advocate for employing the services of a coach. They give you the space to talk openly about your dreams, help you plan how to get there and deal with the obstructions (whether real or perceived) that may be getting in your way. At first you may not even know what you want to change or what you want to do. You just know that the way your life is now isn’t enough. A coach can help you work through this too. They support you in discovering your core values, working on your limiting beliefs and overcoming your fears. If you are living with anxiety or stress related condition and are ready to be empowered to take action and build a life that makes you feel engaged, happy and fulfilled, I would love to hear from you, together we can work on achieving your dreams. I can be contacted by booking a discovery call or from the contact page of my website.

Be you. Be true. Be happy.

Olivia

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