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Developing a Personal Stress Profile of Your Coaching Client

how does a coach assess stress in a client?Your client may have tried some stress management techniques before; part of the problem may be that they did not learn the technique in the ways that work for them personally. Another part of the problem may be that they just haven’t found a stress management technique that fits their unique life. Their personality, the kind of stress they are trying to relieve, and the way they tend to handle stress all factor into their stress management success. So, how does your client know which technique to try? You begin by having them complete a stress personal stress profile.

The Many Faces of Stress

Stress itself is a pretty simple concept – it’s the body‘s reaction to a certain degree of stimulation. But how stress applies to your client is likely to be completely different from how stress applies to another client. Their bodies are both releasing adrenaline and cortisol in response to stress – but while one client’s stress might come from having a demanding boss, supervising 10 difficult employees and being required to meet and possible deadlines, your other clients stress might come from staying home alone with for young children and trying to stick to a demanding budget. While one person may deal with stress of chronic osteoarthritis, another person might feel incredibly stressed by chronic relationship problems.

Because the word stress can mean so many things to so many different clients, it’s logical that before any one individual – that means your client – can put an effective stress management plan into practice, a personal stress profile is essential. By determining the unique stressors your client experiences in their life, their personalities receive stress-related tendencies and how they personally tend to cope with stress.  Stress Management Coaches can design a stress management portfolio that really works for the client.

For example, a client who is physically drained by too much interaction with people may not be helped by strategies that encourage increased social activities with friends. Another client who is stressed by a lack of support systems might find profound benefit in increased social activities. Some clients are deeply calmed by meditation where as others find it excruciating. Other clients find assertiveness training as a relief, but a naturally assertive type might benefit more from learning to sit back and let someone else handle things. When you think of your client’s personal stress profile (or PSP) as something like a business proposal, you get the client to picture themselves as the business and yet this business is not operating at peak efficiency. Your clients PSP is a picture of the business as a whole and the specific nature of all the factors that are keeping the business from performing as well as it should. With a PSP in hand, you can complete a stress management portfolio for your client. Before you know it, your client will be running smoothly, efficiently, and productively.

Then how does the coach organize the long list of details that comprise the stress in your client’s life and their responses to it? You and your client will be able to develop a PSP as the result of the information that you will both discover through the tests and prompts in this chapter.

Your Client’s Personal Stress Profile (PSP) has Four Parts

Their stress tolerance point, their stress triggers, their stress vulnerability factor and lastly, their stress response tendencies.

Once you understand how much stress your client can handle, what things trigger stress for them, where their personal stress vulnerability lies and how they tend to respond to stress, you’ll be able to build a personal stress management portfolio with them. This is the business plan for your client. Once you’ve mapped out the troubles your client faces, you can then strategize with them. You can develop plans for improving their life by managing their stress very effectively using the four points of the PSP.

1. Your clients stress tolerance

Notice that we use the term managing stress, not eliminating it, because eliminating all stress is impossible. As mentioned earlier, some stress is actually good for us. It can get us charged up just when we need a boost. It makes life more fun, more interesting, more exciting. Don’t we all crave a little bit of stress? We get bored with the daily routine and long for an exciting vacation. We desire that feeling of falling in love, the excitement of meeting someone new, the challenge of a promotion, in part, generated by learning a new subject, visiting a new place or even getting lost in a new city.

In other words, while too much stress is bad, some stress is good. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to eliminate all stress from our client’s life. Good stress can be great, as long as it doesn’t last and last and last. Eventually most of us like to get back to a point of equilibrium, whether that is a routine, an earlier bedtime, or a home cooked meal.

Maybe you’ve noticed that some people thrive on constant change, stimulation, and a high-stress kind of life. Think about roving reporter‘s traveling network administrators or people who can turn the most mundane life events into great dramas. Others prefer a highly regular, even ritualistic kind of existence. Think of the people who haven’t really left their hometowns and are perfectly happy that way. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, like your client. We like to travel, to experience the occasional thrilling life event, but are usually glad to get back home or have things settle back to normal.

Whichever type of person your client seems to be, the changes in their body that make them react more quickly, think more sharply, and give them a kind of “high“ feeling of super accomplishment only last up to a point. The point when the stress response turns from productive to counterproductive is different for each person. But, in general, stress feels great and increases your performance until it reaches a certain turning point – your stress tolerance point. If stress continues or increases after that point, your client’s performance will decrease in the effects on their body will start to have a negative rather than a positive effect. This is how you can help your client manage episodic stress.

2. Your client’s stress triggers

The way we get our client to a turning point is highly individual for each client. Each client’s life is different and is filled with different kinds of stress triggers. Someone who has just been in a car accident will experience a completely different stress trigger then someone about to take a college entrance exam, but both may experience equal stress, depending on the severity of the accident and the perceived importance of the test. Of course, since both people probably have different stress tolerance points, high stress to the test taker may be moderate stress to the person who has just had a car accident.  And both people may have a higher stress tolerance then the person about to experience their third migraine in a week.

Your clients stress triggers are simply the things that cause them stress, and their stress tolerance point is what determines how many and what degree of stress triggers your client can take and still remain productive. Your client’s combination of stress triggers is unique to them. No two clients will be all like with respect to stress triggers.

3. Your client’s stress vulnerability factor

The stress vulnerability factor further complicates the picture. Some people have a high stress tolerance, except when it comes to their families. Some can endure more criticism and other forms of personal stress unless it relates to job performance. Some people can take all the criticism their friends and coworkers have to offer but will whine in anguish at a pulled groin muscle.

Each individual client, due to personality, past experiences, (probably) genetics, and a host of other factors, will tend to be particularly vulnerable or sensitive to certain stress categories remaining impervious to others.

The stress vulnerability factor can determine which events in your client’s life will tend to affect them, personally, in a stressful way, and which life events may not stress them out, even if they would be stressful to someone else.

4. Your clients stress response tendencies

Add to this already complex picture of your client’s stress response tech tendencies, or the way they, as an individual, tend to react to stress. Do you reach for food does your client reach for food or nicotine whenever life gets difficult, or do they maybe over-serve themselves liquor or withdraw, sleeping too much or lashing out and irritation at friends? Maybe your client seeks out friends to talk to, or perhaps they practiced relaxation and meditation. That is great. But maybe they react in one way when it comes to their areas of greatest vulnerability, another for the kind of stress they find easier to handle. Through stress awareness and a conscious tracking of stress triggers, your commitment to helping clients manage the stress of life becomes a highly individualized and personalized approach.  Do not hesitate to experiment with stress management techniques to find those that work for your client; create and implement strategies based on their personal stress profile.  You can coach your client to handle the stress that is sopping their energy and draining their brain power.

As coaches, begin by determining some things about your client, the stressors in their life, and the way they tend to cope with them. The following quiz will help you to uncover the details of the stress in your life. The following quiz will help you to uncover the details of the stress in your client’s life. From this quiz, you’ll develop your clients personal stress profile.

Doing the personal stress test

To begin, try not to let this test stress your client out!  Instead of stressing out, coach your client to use this quiz as an opportunity to reflect on themselves, their life, and their personal tendencies. Make sure that they are instructed to take their time. Also, keep in mind that your client’s answers and their entire stress profile will probably tend to change over time. This year, this month or this week might be particularly stressful but next year, next month or next week might be easier for your client. Your client can take this test again, later in time, to assess how well they have implemented their stress management portfolio. For now, have clients answer the questions as they apply today and currently.

Analysis of your Client’s Personal Stress Test

 Section 1: your client’s stress tolerance point analysis
Circle your client’s answers in the following chart, then determine which column has the most answers.

how to assess a coaching client's stress levels

Your client’s stress tolerance indicates how much stress they can take. Which category had the most answers for your client?  If your client’s answers fell about equally in more than one category, that probably means your client can take on a lot of stress when it comes to certain things and less so when it comes to others. It could also mean that some parts of your client’s life are too high in stress and others are just right or even two though.

Here is what your clients stress tolerance score points score indicates:

If your client scored the most points under the “just right low”, they don’t tolerate too much stress, but they already know that and are good at taking measures to limit the stress in their life. Your client performs best and feels happiest when the comfortable routines they’ve created for themselves run smoothly and nothing too unexpected happens. Your client can deal with stressful situations for short periods of time, but your client always feels thrilled to get home after a vacation – the matter how great it was – and your client is very attached to their rituals, weather daily, weekly.  Or annually.

This rank also means that your client has crafted a routine that works for them and when events throw off their routine they tend to experience stress. Having recognized your clients low stress tolerance however you can help your client get the tools in place for keeping their life low-key and systematic whenever possible. Maybe they are good at saying no to things that don’t have that they don’t have room for in their life. Maybe they will go on vacation during the Independence Day weekend but refuse to leave home over the winter holidays because that is tradition. These are all descriptors of someone in the “just right low category.

The coping skills your client needs to cultivate are those that will help them deal with those inevitable times when life changes dramatically or when they aren’t able to stick to their routine due to circumstances beyond their control. If they or a family member becomes ill, if they are forced to change jobs or move to another city, or if they start or end school, things well, inevitably, change, whether they like it or not. Long-term or permanent changes will require them to make their routine flexible enough to accommodate new circumstances, either temporarily or permanently. Short term changes may require a temporary suspension of their favorite routines.

The next ranking is the “just right high”. If your client scored the most points under this category, they could take a fairly high level of stress and they actually like a bit of a more exciting life. They perform better and feel happier when life isn’t too routine. They are probably easy-going and then enjoy seeing what lies around the next bend in life and what curves are coming at them. For this client, strict schedules bore them to pieces. Sure, they like traditions and rituals in some areas of their life. They may cherish their morning cup of tea or coffee, but they might be just as likely to drink it while watching cartoons as reading the New York Times financial section. They might sit at the kitchen table one day, out on the patio the next day or they may take their morning coffee in a travel mug on the subway because they’ve decided to sleep in for an extra 45 minutes.

They probably don’t always eat regular meals or exercise at regular times but that’s how they like it. They’ve designed their life – whether consciously or not – around keeping themselves happily stimulated. They know that they like things to be interesting, so they resist routines and like just enough stress into their life to keep them humming along efficiently. They may not always look efficient in their whirlwind of activities but if stress makes them happy and stress makes them happy. There is a peak point at which a certain amount of stress is satisfying. This clients peak may be higher than someone else’s…maybe they enjoy a little more stress than their friends. But at one point, even for this client, the stress can get to be too much and they’ll start to compromise their own mental physical and spiritual health and happiness when they reach a tipping point.

Of course not all change is pleasant, and some of the stress management techniques you can teach your client to successfully master are those that help them deal with the less pleasant changes that life sometimes has to offer – for example, illness, injury or the loss of a loved one. Even though they can go with the flow all the time they may also find it difficult to sit and concentrate. Meditation and other techniques that cultivate and inner sense, as well as an outer stillness can be of great benefit to this client; you can coach this client to have more self-discipline in the skills of slowing down. They can also benefit from learning how to live with a routine, even if they don’t always choose to do it. When they are sick, have small children or live with people who have a lower stress tolerance than they do, knowing how to work with routines can be helpful. They are already a flexible person by nature. Learning stress management techniques of all kinds will make them even more flexible, disciplined and able to cope with more types of situations.

The third rank we will discuss is the “too low “category.  If your client scored the most points in this category, they probably have a very high stress tolerance point, and they are operating well below it. Or maybe their stress tolerance is relatively low but they are still operating below their tolerance level or threshold. It is tough to know for sure, since your client may not have found their optimal operating level, which is another characteristic of people in this category. Their peak of functioning and happiness is best reached under more stimulation than they are currently experiencing. Maybe their life is necessarily highly routine, and they can’t stand that.  They may long for excitement, change, anything, anything at all – even if it’s just moving the furniture in their living room into a different spot.

Not meeting their stress tolerance point can result in frustration, irritation, aggression, and depression. They aren’t meeting their potential, basically. But they can do something about that with your help. Maybe they are afraid to change jobs, maybe they would like to make saving a nest egg an active and systemize goal.

This type of client should then be encouraged to take the plunge. Suggest learning a new subject or joining some new social groups. Add social activities to their life in areas that interest them. If they feel their marriage is stagnating, suggest counseling.

What about if your client in the too low category is a caregiver tied to the home? Maybe they would be best served or advised to master the Internet and find a world out there waiting for them from within their personal computer. This could include support groups, old friends who are good listeners or even websites/groups tied to hobbies like painting or writing about what they know what them in their thoughts is inside.

All of these stress management techniques can really help clients who report levels of stress that are too low. Ironically, not having enough stress to meet one’s own stress tolerance point is stressful.  Help clients to meet their needs with interesting, positive changes and help them learn to handle their frustrations, aggressions, or depression (if they have it) with solid stress management techniques. Stress management itself can be an exciting learning endeavor. Educating a client about the various forms of meditation, for example, can be an active and interesting pursuit all on its own for the client.

The final category is the “too high” category and if your client scored themselves into this group, they probably know all too well that they are operating well above healthy stress tolerance level. They are probably also suffering some of the ill effects from stress, such as frequent minor illness, inability to concentrate, anxiety, depression, or self-neglect. They may also feel like their life is out of control or their situation is hopeless. This is the type of client that you need to stay connected to as an empathetic coach. They can learn a lot from the stress management techniques you recommend. They can make vast improvements in their life and lifestyle and feel better. It’s never too late to start making gradual improvements in a client’s life.  It is virtually a given that we have faith that our client can do it and to believe in them.

Two or more A’s means that your client suffers from environmental stress. This is the stress that comes from the world around us. Whether they live in a polluted area, such as near a busy street or in a house with a smoker – or are allergic to something in their surroundings, they’ll be exposed to environmental stress.

Environmental stress is also the stress we feel when your environment changes. Maybe your neighborhood has changed a lot in the last few years maybe you and remodeling your home or moving to a new home or in the city. Changes in the household such as the loss or gain of a family member, or even a pet are considered forms of environmental stress. So is a marriage or a separation. These are also sources of personal and social stress, but they are environmental stress because they change the make-up of our client’s household environment.

Some people are sensitive to the weather. A blizzard, a big thunderstorm or hurricane, or even just days and days of rain, are all sources of stress to some.  Does your client get anxious and panicky every time they hear a rumble of thunder? Does your client watch the weather report in fear of storms? Sometimes excessive heat and cold temperatures create anxiety that also leads to stress.

Environmental stressors are largely unavoidable but there are techniques that can help you to turn them from stressors into nothing more than any event. Some stress management techniques to try with your client – the type particularly bothered by environmental stressors – are listed below.

Breathing exercises
Exercise and nutrition
Vitamin and mineral therapy
Feng Shui

If your client answered indicating two or more B’s they are likely suffering from personal stress. Personal stresses the stress that comes from our personal life. This broad category covers everything from our personal perception of relationships to our self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. If your client is unhappy with their personal appearance; has a bad body image, feels adequate, unfulfilled, fearful, shy, lacking willpower or self-control, they are experiencing personal stress.  Essentially, if your client is unhappy in any way, they are suffering from personal stress.

Even personal happiness in extremes can cause stress. If your client is in the throes of being madly in love, just got married, recently promoted, came into a lot of money, or just started the business of their dreams, you may also see this type of client experiencing personal stress. Under these situations, it’s common to feel self-doubt, insecurity or even overconfidence, that can undermine success.

In other words, personal stress happens in our own head. That doesn’t make it any less real than environmental or physiological stress. If anything, it feels even more real to your client. The most effective techniques for clients dealing with personal stress are those that help them to manage your own thoughts and emotions about themselves.  What follows is a list of techniques to try with this type of client.

Massage Therapy
Habit reshaping
Relaxation techniques
Dream Journaling

Two or more C’s
A client who has answered two or more C’s is probably suffering from a fair amount of physiological stress. Physiological stress is the kind of stress that happens to the body. While all forms of stress result in a stress response from the body, some stress comes from physiological problems like illness and pain. Your client may catch a cold or the flu and experience stress due to the illness. They may break a wrist or sprain their ankle, this also stresses the body. Arthritis, migraine headaches, cancer, heart attack and stroke – all of these physiological elements – some mild, some serious, or forms of physiological stress.

Physiological stress also covers hormonal changes in the body, from PMS to pregnancy to menopause, as well as other changes or imbalances such as insomnia, chronic fatigue, depression, bipolar disorder, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders and addictions. Addictions to substances that harm the body or a source of physiological stress. Misuse of alcohol, nicotine and other drugs are stressful. Even prescription drugs can be a source of physiological stress. Well relieving one condition, they may cause side effects that are stressful.

While many kinds of physiological stress or beyond our control, bad health habits are also important and common forms of physiological stress that can be controlled. Sleep deprivation due to the habit of staying up too late, poor dietary habits including overheating or underwriting, too little or too much exercise and general lack of good self-care all cause direct stress on the body. The best way to help clients relieve physiological stress is to get to the source. Many stress management techniques directly address physiological stress. What follows are some suggestions.

Nutrition/exercise balancing
Habit reshaping
Relaxation techniques
Mindfulness meditation

Two or more D’s:  If your client has indicated two or more D’s in their responses, they may be suffering from social stress.

A client who says that they don’t care what anybody thinks about them is probably not being completely honest with themselves. Humans are social creatures, and we live in a complex, interactive society that is becoming increasingly global. Of course, we care what people think. We have to care, or we won’t be able to live within the system. Sure, it’s healthy not to care too much, but like anything else, the ideal goal is balance.

Social stress, therefore, is stress related to one’s appearance in the world. How does your client think that people see them? How do others react to what your client does and the things that happen to them? Getting engaged, married, separated, or divorced, for example – while all sources of personal stress – or also sources of social stress because of the societal opinions and reactions to the forming and breaking up of the marital relationship. The same goes for becoming a parent, a grandparent, getting a promotion, losing a job, having an extramarital affair, coming into a lot of money or losing a lot of money. Society has a lot to say about these events – which are bound to affect the opinions other people have of your client, right or wrong, wanted to or not. Depending on how vulnerable your client is to public opinion, they may or may not suffer too much from social stress. If social stress is a concern in your client’s life, some good techniques for helping to equalize social stress include the following

Nutrition/exercise balancing
Habit reshaping  
Mindfulness meditation


Section 3: your client’s stress vulnerability factor analysis

Unlike stress triggers, stress vulnerabilities have to do with your client’s personal tendencies. Everyone’s stress triggers are different but in addition, everyone’s personality and personal vulnerabilities to certain areas of stress are also different. Your client might have a stressful job and could also be particularly sensitive to job stress, obsessing over their work to the point that their stress is much more than it needs to be. For this section, each answer your client provided reveals the different areas in which your client may be vulnerability to stress.  Client vulnerabilities most likely lie within the following areas:

Spending too much time alone, or lack of satisfying social content: 11 A, 13 D

An extrovert is someone who may relish time alone but who feels drained of energy after too much time away from other people. Extroverts require plenty of social contact to keep their energy levels high. Extroverts work best in groups and might find working alone virtually impossible because they can’t get motivated properly. Personal relationships are extremely important to extroverts, who often feel incomplete without a partner. Extroverts tend to have lots of friends and rely on their friends for energy, support, and satisfaction.

Extroverts are they type to say they don’t know what they think until they see it. They often think things through out loud.  Dream journaling, group therapy, meditation classes, exercise classes and massage therapy are particularly effective for extroverts.

Spending too much time around others: 11 B, 15 D

An introvert, on the other hand, is someone who may enjoy other people, but they also feel drained of energy after too much social contact. Introverts require time alone to recharge after spending time with people and might find it difficult to accomplish anything productive with a lot of people around. Introverts are good at working alone in a home office or at a remote location. All introverts aren’t necessarily shy and can benefit immensely from rewarding personal relationships, but they also need time alone. Introverts tend to think about what they say before they speak. Sometimes, introverts can seem, and feel, distant, as if a gap exists between the self and the outside world. That may be a sign that it is time for your client to have some alone time. Your client’s body is telling them that it needs to be re-energized when this is the case. In other circumstances, however, it may be assumed that your client is spending too much time alone. Remember that we want to encourage our client to seek balance. Introspective techniques and solitary techniques like meditation, visualization and chakra centering are great for introverts.

The worrier/caretaker: 11. D

One area worry words tend to specialize in is worried about their dependence. If your client is a parent, grandparent, or the caretaker to an aging parent or grandparent, they may have a focus for their worries right there in front of them all the time to remind them of it. Furthermore, the dependent is focused on your client for their very own health and welfare in some instances. This can be a big burden for anyone, and even if it is one your client has readily accepted, it is still a stressful position for them to be in. Your client may be a parent, who adores their children, and they feel any alleged burden is fully worth it. But having dependents tends to make more worry for the caretaker and worry generally makes the stress of being a caretaker a lot harder.

Learning to deal with the stress of care taking means admitting, first, that the stress is there and that it is real.  Then, providing coaching support and actions to teach client’s techniques to care for themselves as well as they care for their dependents. It does not come from a place of selfishness. Your client can’t be their best caretaker if they neglect their own physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Self-care stress management and its many forms is exceptionally important for caretakers and that includes making room for our own creative desires and our unique self-expression. Encourage your client to release any fears of admitting the whole complex glut of feelings they have about their caretaking responsibilities – intense love, anger, joy, resentment, appreciation, sadness, irritation and happiness. Being a caretaker sounds a lot like being a human being, doesn’t it? Some might say it’s being human with the volume turned up.

Financial pressure: 12 A

No matter how much money some people have, it always seems to slip through their fingers – or that proverbial hole that’s been burnt into their pockets. Money is a huge source of stress for many people in a common area of stress vulnerability. Does your client think that enough money really would solve all of their problems? Do they spend time every single day worrying about having enough money for what they need or want? Do they obsess about where they spend their money, whether their money is working for them or how they might be able to make more money? Does your client put a lot of importance on a person’s financial status?

If money is an area of vulnerability for your client, encourage a shift in their focus using stress management techniques that help them to take responsibility for their financial situation (if that is the problem).  Try to coach clients with financial woes to put finances in a whole-life perspective.   We already know that money alone really cannot buy happiness, but freedom from financial stress can certainly help push your client toward that train of thought!

Family dynamics: 12 B

You love them, you dislike them. They see your best side and your worst side, too. Obviously, your client is connected (some would say stuck) with their family, even if they choose never to speak with them on a regular basis. For most people, families are another big area of stress. Our families have an intimate knowledge of who we are, or who we used to be, and that alone can be stressful, especially if we’re trying to escape who are used to be (or who we think we used to be).  Family members are notoriously knowledgeable about how to push buttons. Who can anger your client more than a brother or sister?

All families are stressful to some extent, but for some people, families are particularly stressful because of a dysfunctional aspect or because of past events that are painful. If your client’s family is an area of stress for them, they may benefit from making amends, or by deciding to move on. They may be estranged from their family – fully in their clutches on a daily basis; both ends of the spectrum or possible. Either way, recognizing family stress is the first step to managing it if it is present. How your client manages it depends on their individual situation. They might consider techniques that bolster their people skills or techniques that strengthen the foundation of their own self-esteem. Journaling and other creativity techniques can be highly effective for dealing with family stress.

For a lot of clients, family is a cherished and highly sacred part of life. It is still fraught with stress. And that has to be OK. Your client can love their family dearly, feel fondly and intimately attached to their family members and still admit to family as a major cause of stress in their life. recognizing the positive elements of family might therefore be one of the great ways to help beat back stress that comes from our client’s family.

Obsessive of worrying: 12.C, 13. B

Your client knows already if this is true for them. They worry about everything, and they just can’t help it. Or they may have a few choice areas in life which they play the role of “worry specialist”. Maybe it’s their body shape, or the impression they make on others – or even their grandchildren or children. Whatever it is, your client is simply prone to worry. Your client will find a way to worry about everything from the weather to their family and even their pets. They may worry about school, work, or their social group or friends. Ironically, it is your client’s closest friends who will roll their eyes and make exasperated comments like “Will you please stop worrying? “

But it is not easy to stop worrying. Yet it is difficult to be a worry wart, as it is generally considered a bad habit that is immensely stressful. Learning how to stop worrying can be an empowering life skill that will change your client’s daily existence more dramatically than they ever imagined (not that your client ever had time to imagine since they are typically too busy worrying). Thought control and worry-stopping our great techniques to learn to teach your client. Exercise also provides a great break from worry, especially when it’s challenging. Your client can’t worry if their mind is immersed in yoga moves or a kickboxing routine. There’s nothing wrong with quitting the daily news habit on your tablet or smart phone. Your client has enough to worry about as it is, and if anything, important happens, we will all hear about it sooner or later. Most importantly, have your client focus on relearning how to worry effectively. Try to encourage that your client worry about things that they can change, as a means to figure out how to change them. If your client can’t change something, worrying about it it’s just a big waste of time for them and as we know, wasting time can have stressful outcomes as well.

The need for constant validation by others: 12. D, 15. B, 15. C

Some people could go their whole lives without knowing or caring about how “cool“ they are. Others live obsessed by the building and sustaining of their personal image. If your client’s image is more important to them then what’s behind it – or even if it just feels that way sometimes – your client may be vulnerable to image stress. It’s hard not to be image conscious these days. Appearance, charisma, the whole “cool factor” – it’s hard to resist. But being too cool conscious has a price. Going through life constantly on the lookout for our one appears to others can obliterate the real self. Does your client sometimes wonder who they are apart from the you that they choose to show to the people in the world? Image obsession is stressful and even if a certain amount of “cool“ is important for your career – or even your personal satisfaction, keeping image in perspective is as important as keeping any other aspect of your life in perspective.

Image stress is a big problem for adolescents, but some adults can also fall prey. Look for stress management techniques that help your client to get in touch with their inner self. The better your client knows the real self, inside of them, the more superficial and uninteresting the outer self becomes. Coach your client to know themselves and ironically their image will ideally improve along the way. Maybe your client can take note of others who are unique, have inner-tranquility and have found a high comfort level with who they are.

Lack of self-control, motivation, organization: 13. A, 13. B, 13 C, 13. D

We cause ourselves more stress than is necessary because we haven’t taken control of our personal habits, thoughts or life. No, your client can’t control everything and if they try to control everything, they’ll be vulnerable to control issues on the other side of the stress continuum or equation. However, to a large extent, we can’t control what we do, how we react or how we think and perceive the world. That’s a powerful arsenal of control and it’s all the control our client ever needs. A lot of us let all that go, however making the excuse that our lives are completely subject to fate or the actions of others. As coaches we need to inform our client of how that’s not quite accurate in all cases.

So, what are some of the things in our lives that we could more easily gain control over? We can control our dietary habits, our exercise schedules, our impulse to say unkind things, our road rage, or a tendency to bite our fingernails or pencil erasers, or never put away our things when we are finished using them. These are simply habits and if habits are causing your clients stress, why not work to change them? Is breaking a habit difficult? Most people think it is – but for most, this is just for a little while.

Living with chronic stress is a lot more difficult. Look for stress management techniques that help your client to get control: getting organized, getting healthy, becoming responsible and even acting like a grown-up.

Need to control: 14 A, 15 A

Your client has control issues on the other side of the fence if these were their responses. Your client knows the best way to do things and nobody better challenge them. This type of client likes control because they really believe they know the best and they probably do much of the time. The problem is that getting everyone to listen can be somewhat stressful. Your client might also admit to requiring a certain amount of ego stroking. This is a common character trait for someone who has answered these questions in this way.

We all want to be recognized for our accomplishments, and one of our strengths is to have a healthy self-esteem. But like anything else, self-esteem can be carried too far. Remember, we try to have our client find balance. Knowing that they are right is one thing; demanding everyone else admit it, too, is quite another. Your client may benefit by stress management techniques that help them to let go of the reins, to coast in neutral and go with the flow. Your client doesn’t need to be told to just do it…they are already high achievers.

Complacency is not a trait of someone who has answered or responded in this way but your client with this kind of stress has another challenge. And that is that they are always up for a challenge, and they feel they can conquer each challenge. This client already knows they can just do what they need to. They are confident but they need to be reminded to check their ego at the door of self-awareness and that they will have a lot less to carry if they can let go of some of the control.  A client matching this description needs to be shown how life can be fun, even with a less-intense load.

Job/career: 11.C, 14.A, 14.B, 14. D

Your client may love or hate their job but one thing is certain their jobs can stress them out. People who are vulnerable to jobs stress most likely have particularly stressful jobs, such as those driven by deadlines, those fraught with difficult people or those that include high pressure to succeed. Even jobs that wouldn’t be stressful to some are considered stressful by others. However, one client can easily say “hey I’ll get it done when I get it done”, another client type or personality might be thrown into a frenzy of anxiety at the mere mention of an impending deadline. All your clients may answer this question the same but be different in the expressions of their personality and character traits. This is important for the coach to remember.

If job stress is an area of stress for your client, concentrate on practicing stress management techniques that will help them in their office, even if it is in a home-office and then target the kind of stress they are likely to encounter on the job. This might include techniques for dealing with difficult people, techniques to help stretch out and relieve the strain of sitting for long periods, deep breathing and relaxation techniques for combating elevated stress situations or whatever else is relevant to your client’s particular job duties.

In addition, have your client make a special commitment to keeping sacred their pre-work preparation time and their post-work decompression time. Have your clients spend 15 to 30 minutes before and after work each day practicing the stress relieving technique of their choice to create a cushion around their workday. This will allow the rest of your client’s life to be completely separate from work (wherever possible) so that they don’t feel that they are stressful work life has swallowed whole the rest of their nonwork life. Even if your client works from home, encourage them to set worktime boundaries (even something as simple as absolutely no work on Friday night), then coach them to leave it behind when it’s time. Again, have your client seek balance in this area.

Low self-esteem: 13. D, 14. D

While your client may handle work stress with aplomb, they may become vulnerable to attacks on their self-esteem. Maybe a comment about their weight or age throws them into a tailspin. Maybe they see themselves in a shop window while walking down the street and the negative impression they get deflates their confidence for the rest of the day.

Self-esteem isn’t just about appearance, however. If your client believes that someone is questioning their competency, do they come unreasonably defensive or suddenly insecure? Do they require constant reassurance, complements, or other self-esteem boosters from the people around them to feel good about themselves?

Many stress management techniques focus on bolstering self-esteem. This is a cornerstone of coaching. The most important thing to remember is that self-esteem, just like our body, requires maintenance. So, we work on it. We take care of ourselves, and we keep reminding ourselves how special we are, even when we don’t really believe it completely.

Neglecting oneself may help a client to ignore their self-esteem issues, but it certainly won’t address the “fix“ needed that they seek. For this client, suggest sources for affirmations and positive self-talk to keep feeling good about themselves. Assertiveness training may also help to assign less importance in the careless comments of others.

Your client can be their own best friend, but it takes some practice; that said, there is no one is better suited for the job but your client to root for themselves.  Our client is worth knowing, so we show enthusiasm while getting to know them. They are an endless source of mystery, and they fascinate us. We are curious about them. They are lovable.  We also coach them to understand that appreciation from others will only come to them when they appreciate themselves.

Section 4: your clients stress response tendencies analysis

This last section demonstrates the ways in which your client tends to respond to stress in their life. Keep track of how many times your client marks an answer under each of the following columns:

stress management assessments for coaches

The category chosen most buyer client often indicates their stress response style. Now let’s look at what each category is about.

Ignore it:

If your client chose mostly answers in the ignore category, they tend to ignore the stress in their life. Sometimes, ignoring stress can be an excellent coping strategy. Other times however ignoring stress can compound it. Something that could have been easily corrected early on with some good coaching can become a source of greater stress because it was never addressed. Be aware of a client’s tendency to ignore stress so that they can use the strategies you suggest as their coach more deliberately and consciously. Ignoring stress without realizing it is less productive and can result in burying feelings that are better acknowledged and then dispatched. The key to ignoring stress productively is to teach your client how to be fully aware of the stress in their profile. Then your client can choose when to ignore it and when to manage it.

React to it:

If your client chose mostly answers in the react category, they may be the type that reacts to stress with behaviors that can be unhelpful at best and distractive at worst. Maybe this client will reach for snacks in the cupboard every time stress gets out of hand in their life. Maybe they get depressed, angry, irritable, or anxious and even panicky when they have stress. Maybe they worry obsessively, or they smoke, drink and/or try to forget their stress by using other drugs. In any case, reacting to stress makes your client the victim and sends your client’s psyche the message that the stress is in control, and they are its helpless pawn.

Again, with this client we work to boost self-esteem and specifically coach them to prevent becoming a pawn. Reacting to stress with occasional self-indulgence can be enjoyable in a wallowing, self-pitying kind of way. It can be a kind of self-care, but only to a point and only when it is healthy.  Effectively managing stress is much more effective.

Attack it:

If you’re client chose mostly answers in the “attack it” category they don’t just handle stress, they manhandle it and with a full throttle job to the gut. They refuse to let stress get the best of them but in their exuberance, they sometimes go overboard. Sometimes the key to managing stress is letting it go, but they don’t like to let go of things until they’ve attacked them from every possible angle and pound them into the dust.  At first, this might seem like a highly effective technique. A stubborn work problem or failing business – or even a weight problem, might respond well to a full speed, vigorous, full-frontal attack. That kind of energy can be highly effective for eliminating certain sources of stress for your client; for other types of stress however attack mode may not be ideal. Learning a variety of stress management techniques for different types of stress can add tools to your coaching actions with your clients. Always put relaxation at the top of any list of suggestions you provide a client.

Manage it:

If your client chose most of their answers in the manage category they do a pretty good job of managing the stress in their life. They tend to react to stressful stimuli with a moderate, rather than extreme response. They give themselves time to size up a situation before acting on it and then don’t worry inordinately about things that they cannot control. It is true, that sometimes things will make us feel bad, but those who manage stress have also learned that not everything everyone does is about them (most of the time, it probably isn’t). This client should be acknowledged for doing a good job of managing stress and this will help them to prepare for future possible stressors in their life – because everybody will have stress at one point in their life.

Your Client’s Stress Management Profile

In a place that your client describes as special, like maybe their journal or a notebook that they set aside for stress management work, have your client record the results from the personal stress tests that have been used to assess their stress.  The test should be dated and then tried again in a few months with your client. This, as of course after you have worked with some of the stress management techniques that you have hopefully learned of as applicable in this course.

Encourage your client to look over the results and write a few paragraphs to summarize their overall impressions. How much stress can your client take before they start to feel bad? What triggers stress for your client and what are your client’s vulnerable areas of stress? How does your client respond to stress?

This is what will be called the stress management profile for the client. An awareness of your client’s stress profile will help you to choose strategies with them that will work best for their needs and allows you to schedule their Stress Management Coaching sessions in a way that factors in priorities while making sense of what stress them out in their lives.