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Stress Management Portfolio for Coaches

How to Create a Stress Management Portfolio for Coaching ClientsUp to this point you have collected some important information about stress as a Stress Management Coach prior to getting certified. Now you have more knowledge needed to create plans that will help your clients meet their individual needs. In this next lesson, you will learn to lay the groundwork for these plans by mapping out your client’s Stress Management Portfolio.

The big picture: helping your client build a personal stress management portfolio

Your client could write most of this article on their own, and yet they would not be able to do it all in one day. As they work through the rest of the sessions with you and learn about different approaches to stress management, they can continue to flip back to refer to their portfolio and write down new ideas. After your client has tried some of the strategies you have tried with them, they will also want to reflect on what how various techniques have worked for them.
Your client’s stress management portfolio isn’t set in stone. Your client will write things down, try them out, adjust their approach, try something else, find something that works for part of their life and then continue to experiment and other areas. Your clients stress management portfolio is a lot like an investment portfolio. If you watch the market and trade your stocks according to changes in the market it doesn’t stay the same.  As your client’s life changes, their stress management for portfolio will change too. As you build out their portfolio and customize it – then implement it – you can always keep careful watch on the processes that your client goes through. As your client changes, so will nearly all their stress management strategies. As you work with your client through the process of coaching them, establish reference points so that you can assist clients to easily refer to your client’s stress management profile. Your client should refer to it often and use it as a personal resource to build their stress management portfolio.  The coach does not do this work for them, but instead we coach and support them through it. The more individualized and personalized they make their strategies, the more effective they will be.  Here are some simple and effective stress management tips.

Your clients stress management portfolio is an in-progress action plan based on both the specific details and the overall knowledge gained from their personal stress profile.  It is intended to be partly educational for the client.

Think about your client’s general impressions – and have your client share their general impressions after completing their personal stress profile. This general impression can be informative as it will form the outline or silhouette of how are you coach your client to develop their portfolio. Each section of the personal stress portfolio will help you to determine your clients specific stress management strategies.

Stress Management Journals

One of the simplest but most effective stress management strategies that you can encourage your clients to do is to simply keep a stress journal. In their stress journal, they can record the results of their stress tests, write about their personal stress profile and keep track of their stress management strategies used. This will include what you have tried with them, when you tried it and how well it worked as part of the coaching process – but all from the client’s perspective.

A stress journal is also a place for your client to record sources of stress each day as well as the ways your client chooses to manage the stress they face. Clients can record where stress management strategy succeed and fail, examine why they did or did not deal with stress in an effective way, even rant or rave about their stress levels.

Writing down stressors and the way your client dealt with them is helpful in several ways:

Writing down sources of stress each day helps us to tune in to the stress in our lives. Your client will become more aware of sources of their stress and the stress patterns but they may not have recognized before.

Having your client write about their stress and the way they actually handled it helps them to figure out when their stress management techniques and strategies are working and when they fall short of the goal. Your client will also discover how they feel about the stress in their life and their stress management efforts. Reading can be a great mode of discovery for a stressed client.

If your client is the type who tends to ignore stress, they will have to acknowledge it in their writing. If your client tends to attack stress, attacking it with the pen is a lot healthier than saying or doing things they may later regret. If they tend to react to stress, reacting on the page is a lot healthier than reacting by falling into distractive habits based on stress.

Your clients stress journal can take any format – a legal pad, a bound book of pages or even their computer, as there are free journals available online. Whichever method your client chooses it should be something they enjoy using. Your client can list their stressors or write paragraphs describing how they felt and what they did about it. Try to help your client find ways to write in their stress journal that feels right for them.

The most difficult part of keeping a stress journal is getting in the habit of writing it each day. Again, like any other habit, making time to write in their stress journal is something your client can easily learn with a little bit of discipline; if they can keep up this habit if they can just show the coach that they can learn to do a few simple things and they can also reap the rewards of their efforts.

The first task is to get the positive rewards from journaling, this is something your client will see you later and hopefully be glad that they did. The discipline of writing in stress journals each day is a kind of stress management victory in its own way. The additional benefits your client gains from cultivating their personal stress awareness makes the effort worthwhile. But maybe most importantly, when a client can go back and read prior reflections and compare them to current changes and improvements, they will see the effectiveness of journaling.

Putting Stress Journals to Work

Once your client has found a notebook or way to write in a stress journal, they can immediately begin to record their stress management plans. After completing the test and analyzing the results from the last section, what was their overall impression of the effect stress had on their life? This is something that you have to talk to your client about.  Encourage reflections (i.e. “thinking”) about their overall impressions and of course, have your client right these thoughts down in their journal.  Having these thoughts documented will allow them to check back at their leisure to see how their overall impressions are changing. In their journal, they can title the page “my overall stress profile impressions “.

Later, your client can begin to focus more specifically how much they have discovered about the stress in their life.

What Works for Your Client to Journal and Reduce Excessive Stress?

After completing the questions from the recent article your client may have noticed patterns and trends emerged from working their way through the test. If they did not, this is a coachable moment. Have your client look back and try to determine some of the patterns and themes of the tests. Your client may also recognize that they have handled some things pretty well and that somethings are actually already working. If your client did not get to this realization, have them think about it when you work with them in session.

Make sure that your client documents the things in their life that are working “mostly” well.  What parts of their life do they generally feel good about? What are their stress management successes? What are their preferred productive and efficient systems to use? What are their best and most supportive relationships?  Which positive qualities are they able to manifest themselves in their life at a deeper, more intense level? Spend some time considering what’s working with your client and have them record their thoughts in their journal under “what’s working well in my life”. In the coaching world we call this sort of discussion appreciative inquiry.

What Does Not Work for Your Client to Reduce and Manage Stress?

Now, have your client think of the areas that could use some improvement. Do they maybe need more time in their day? More romance in their relationship? Better health habits? A more organized household?

Have your client list these things that they would like to improve in their life – the things that they’ll be better able to improve and focus on once they got the extra stress of their life under better control. They can record this in their journal under “things I would like to improve”.

Targeting Your Strategies for Stress

Let’s refer to the last lesson where the results of the personal stress profile for our client and their journal were originally recorded. Throughout the balance of this manual, coaches will read about different stress management techniques. As they read about them, keep in mind the results of a client’s personal stress profile and how they might relate to a client in need.  Each part of your training can be expressed as stress management techniques that you provide as their coach. As your client learns about different techniques – and shows positive change, do not be afraid to experiment with how they can apply them to different areas of their personal stress profile.

Recording Results in a Stress Management Journal

Have your client record their test results in the stress record (provided) and reflect on them at the same time in their journal, you might want to use a template similar to the one we provide in the appendix for you. Your client can make several copies of this template to keep in their notebook, binder or whatever they are using to journal.

Now it will be easier for your client to refer to their test results if they are kept in one place. Feel free to use this template again – or anytime you have a client retake their tests.

The following sections will give you more ideas for how you can guide your client to target their stress management strategies according to the results of the personal stress profile.

Stress Tolerance Level Management Strategies

Whether your client stress tolerance level was just right low or too high, or a combination of several levels for different areas of their life, their key to managing stress is to keep it all balanced right around a healthy stress tolerance level. If you or your client’s level was just right low, encourage the client to keep making a conscious effort to illuminate excess stress from your life so that they can continue to enjoy lower levels of stress. be sure that your client can remember what is working for them. How does your client already keep their stress low? Then, help your client plan for those times when stress will surely increase. Part of your coaching is to have your client be well prepared for stress

If your clients stress level is “just right high”, coach them to continue to try and make a conscious effort to keep stress at the level that works best for them.  True, they may be able to handle more stress than some other people, but they can still get overstressed easily. Techniques that help your client cultivate mind-body awareness can signal to them when stress is getting out of control of their life. People who can take more stress than average tend to neglect their stress level awareness, thinking they can take anything, but we all have our limits.

If your client stress level is “too high”, or “too low”, they may also need a different plan. How can your client learn to effectively eliminate stressed so that they can achieve a healthy stress tolerance level? Or, how can they begin to add stimulation to their life and healthy and productive ways so that they can achieve a healthy stress tolerance level? Remember, too much stress is hard on our body, but not enough stress (not enough for your own personal needs,) makes for a pretty doll for filling life.

Have your client record their stress tolerance level in their journal as a reminder of where they are at currently.  As you continue to read through the rest of this manual, brainstorm any possible strategies that sound interesting and applicable to your client load.  After you have tried some of them, be sure to note (detailed descriptions are best) how they worked. Finally, be sure to also instruct your clients to record “keeper” strategies to add to their unique stress management repertoire and daily or weekly routine.

As a coach, keeping track of the effectiveness of various techniques is important. Remember your client may remember in the short term that, say, a certain herbal remedy worked well or that a certain relaxation technique was tedious for them but a month later, they may forget – and they will be glad they wrote it down as an experience to keep or forget. But the CSMC must think beyond just one client.

Your client can format a section in their journal based on the following template or can make several copies of these blank templates to keep in a binder for their stress management.

Be sure to have your clients document sleep and how it’s related to stress levels.

example of stress journal for tolerance or stressors

Helping Your Client Harness Their Stress Triggers

Whenever we go through change, or have illness such as the flu, get married, a failing grade, pregnant, or a speeding ticket, stress triggers can add to the stress in our lives. Managing stress triggers is a key to working with our clients and helping to determine their unique stress tolerance levels.

Remember, stress triggers can come in for categories: environmental, personal, psychological and social. The categories in which your client stress triggers tend to fall can be the key to the stress management techniques that you coach them through.

Having your client use a journal to record results within these categories helps greatly to define their stress profile. Then, we plan which stress management techniques to try with them to manage each one of the stress triggers.

As you read through the rest of this manual, refer back to this section when considering stress management techniques that you think might address client stress triggers in certain categories. For instance, improving dietary habits or increasing daily exercise might be what is needed to address your client’s or self-esteem.

A lot of stress triggers are best handled individually no matter what happens – no matter what category they happen to fall into. Have your client list individual stress triggers in the proper section of their portfolio and the way that they decided to tackle each one. Your client will be glad that they have kept this record and coach your clients later to use their writing as a way to remember and reflect on what worked and what didn’t.

Again, as your client tackle stress triggers one at a time, have them keep track of what they have tried and how well it worked in their journal. They can use the following template as a guideline.

list of common stress triggers

Your Stress Vulnerability Adjustment Strategies

Knowing your clients stress vulnerability factors, or the specific areas of their stress in life that caused them to be particularly vulnerable to stress, is a great opportunity to use specific stress management techniques to target these areas.

Whether your client’s stress comes for their job, family, self-esteem – or really anything related to stress, they can find techniques individually suited to them if they can understand more fully why or how they experience stress.

As suggested before, as you read through rest of this manual, keep track of the strategies that interest you the most as being applicable to address your client’s stress vulnerability factor. We will also include some suggestions for when a certain strategy is particularly effective for a certain area of your client’s life. For example, debt management studies can be highly effective in managing financial stress; maybe less obvious is the effectiveness of visualization for boosting self-esteem or the power of spiritual development for boosting the immune system. Below is a template that your client can use to keep track of stress vulnerabilities; they will include this in their journal.
How does a coach assess a clients vulnerability to various stresse

Your Clients Stress Response Tendency Adjustment Schedule

Now is where we look to monitor our client’s natural tendencies to respond to stress. Keep track of the things that your client tends to do that work and the things again, that or attempted but are less effective or seen as destructive to their physical, emotional and mental health.  In previous chapters, you grouped stress response tendencies into four categories. How your client reacts to stress, attacks it, ignores, or manages it.  Go to the Appendix for the worksheet related to Stress Tendencies and Responses and use this for your client’s portfolio.

Your client will probably respond to stress differently depending on what kind of stress it is. Within their stress journal, they can periodically monitor stress responses – which will allow you to see their progress. Again, they will be glad that they kept track of their information in their stress journals, their self-esteem will improve when they have seen success in their past efforts.

Using the worksheets below, your client can then use the following structured approach in their journals to check their stress response tendencies every week for six weeks. During each week, they probably will respond to stress and variety of ways.  You want to have clients list all stressors and describe the kind of stress they were responding to. Staying aware of the ways in which your client response to stress is one of the best ways to help clients be able to respond to stress in a healthy and productive way. For each item, have your client list and describe the ways that they could respond more productively if it is applicable. Where your client has responded well, be sure to congratulate them and celebrate each victory, regardless of how small.

How Does a Coach Chart a Client’s Stress?

Some people just do not enjoy writing. If your client does not enjoy writing or if it does not come easily to them, then keeping a stress journal won’t be productive, in fact it could become just another source of stress – or one more thing on their to do list. If this describes your client, you might have them drawing a map up for their stress instead.  Mapping stress is like writing in a stress journal, but instead of using words, your client will use pictures, symbols and signs.

Draw your stress map as if it were a map of the city. Each building is a stressor. Each region is an area vulnerability. Each street is a link between stressors, such as the link between their lack of exercise in their joint pain, or the link between their financial problems and their lack of willpower when it comes to spending.

One-way streets would represent direct cause-and-effect treasures
(insomnia > sleep deprivation, knee injury > pain)

Instruct your client to not worry if they are not much of an artist. Their map can be a simple picture of basic label shapes. Or if they want, it can be a work of art. The point is to find a mode of expression which will allow them to feel most comfortable and to help them discover or visualize the way stress in their life is interconnected, where individual stressors originate and how some stressors are merely the effect of other stressors. By eliminating or effectively managing a single stressor, your client may find that they can eliminate other stressors, too.

Set Stress Management Goals with Your Client

This is a very important role for the Stress Management Coach. We’ve spent a fair amount of time cultivating stress awareness with our client because recognizing their stress is incredibly important. But it is only one step in the stress management process. It’s also really important to find their goals related to stress management. Does your client want to concentrate better? Get sick less often? Stop screaming at her kids? Be more productive at work? All of the above?

Have your client think about their stress management goals. What do they want to accomplish and why did they choose this process of working with you as her coach in the first place?   Your client probably has some goals in mind, even if it was just to stop feeling so stressed all the time. After giving all some thought, discuss them with your client. This important part of your client’s stress management portfolio will evolve just as other parts of their stress profile and it follows that the client’s portfolio will evolve as your client is successful at accomplishing stress management goals.  Later, they will certainly be able to define new ones to tackle. For now, have your client list current stress management goals and don’t worry about getting every single goal in at this point.  Additionally, we know that goals can change once we do an assessment of where our client stands.  Record new goals with your client as they come along and check off all the boxes as they are accomplished.

Implementing Stress Management Action Plans for Your Client

You have analyzed your client’s sources of stress, discovered what is working and what is not in their life, and now thought about all the things that your client might try to eliminate or alleviate their stress. What’s left? Jumping in and alleviating that stress!

At first figuring out exactly where to start might seem difficult for your client.  They may feel at a loss or even frustrated by all the information and ideas that you have for them. They might think that you could never possibly help them manage all their stress.

Remember, if your client doesn’t recognize all of their sources of stress, you’ll never be able to fully deal with each of them.  Helping clients to recognize their stress shows that you have accomplished your goal as a coach – and an important first step if you’ve been able to get your client to simply think about what to do to eliminate stress. But that is just a small part of it, and remember, we don’t pick our clients goals, we let them take ownership of them by letting them decide what their goals are and helping them rank their priority of importance.  Our goal is to help our clients visualize what is possible and provide a pathway to get to what they want. But to begin, your client needs in orderly and doable list, allowing them to know where to start.

To implement your Stress Management Coaching plans with a client, prepare a numbered list with them. Decide where you want to start by picking a stressor that you believe will be fairly easy for them to deal with and change. For example, maybe your client knows that they need to get more sleep. That is a good place to start because they’ll have a hard time handling – let alone managing – any stress changes needed if they are not getting enough sleep in the first place.

Have your client keep track of stress management plans and goals daily for a while so that they feel like they can manage the tasks that you have set out for them.   For example, it will be easier to decide to go to bed at 10 PM – just for today – as opposed to doing it from this point forward, for the rest of one’s life. One sounds easy and doable, the other seems like a daunting task. Going to bed early every day for the rest of your life might just sound impossible or depressing.

As you get your client buying into healthier habits, they will be able to set new goals for a week, and a month at a time. As you try different approaches, it will be able to adjust your goals in ways that work for them.  This is a basic tenet of coaching responsibilities.

Begin with the stressors that you have some idea about your client managing realistically. The more that your client learns about managing stress, the more ideas they will get on how to handle all the stress that will come later, which may be equally as challenging or even more so.

Stress management meeting is learning a new system for anything it’s always fun, even exciting.But Stress Management Coaches are cautioned to not try to do all of this at once with a client. Make realistic goals and take gradual steps.  Help your client change their life a little bit at a time, and in turn, the client will find that they’re able to settle comfortably into the changes.

After you’ve worked with the client on the stress management plans for about 90 days, have your client retake the relevant stress tests again and record the results in their journal. Then, if it seems appropriate, you can rework the plans with your client, adjusting the stress management strategies as they gradually see success in different areas of their efforts.

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