Certain lifestyle patterns that are common in everyday clients can have detrimental effects on well-being and quality of life (i.e. their wellness). We all know these patterns – the most common are seen more as culprits, include sedentary lifestyles, smoking, drinking to excess, eating poorly and even not wearing a seatbelt.
However, just as important as avoiding lifestyle patterns that can negatively affect quality of life is coaching clients to appreciate the joys, thrills, delights and happiness that are part of our client’s world. The idea is to minimize the negative and maximize the positive in our client’s lives. For some, pleasure has become attached to negative feelings of enjoying ourselves and having fun. Even though certain negative habits and addictions are unhealthy, we also must seek to feel good mentally and emotionally. We need to seek enjoyment to enhance our survival. Ornstein and Sobel (in Healthy Pleasures) theorized that there is no better way to ensure healthy, life-saving behaviors – than by making them pleasurable. From eating to reproduction to caring for others, pleasure can guide us to better health. Doing what feels good is often beneficial for health and survival.
A pleasurable experience can be as simple as taking time to enjoy a sunset, smelling the air after a rain, napping for half an hour in the afternoon, making a kind comment to a stranger or friend, or letting go of anger toward another human being. Seeking out pleasure may involve a client giving positive self-talks, looking for humor, and spending time with similar, upbeat people. Enjoying the gift of pleasure is powerful medicine for someone who is looking to understand how spirituality is important in the holistic sense.
BALANCING MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT
You may observe that some clients presenting with good emotional health tend to be more aware of their thoughts, feelings and actions. These are clients that have learned positive, healthy ways to cope with stress and challenges that are a normal part of everyday life. These clients typically feel good about themselves and tend to have healthy relationships. But sometimes clients need help, with so many things that happen in their lives, disrupting their emotional health. This can lead to strong feelings of sadness, stress or anxiety.
So you can see that some “good” changes can be just as stressful as those typically viewed as “bad” changes. Our bodies respond to the way we think or perceive life, or how we feel and act. This is referred to as the “mind/body connection.” When a client is stressed, anxious or upset, their body may be telling them that something isn’t right. As examples, high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer may be associated with particularly stressful events, such as the death of a loved one. The following can be physical signs that your clients emotional health is out of balance:
Hopefully by now you both know and believe that poor emotional health can weaken the body’s immune system, making it more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times. In addition to this, when clients are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, they may not take care of their health as well as they should. Exercising, eating nutritious foods (or taking prescription medicines as directed) may help clients in these times. Additionally, the use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs may be indicators of poor emotional health in your client.
Coach clients to try to recognize their emotions and to understand how they come about. Identifying the root causes of sadness, stress and anxiety in your clients’ life can help them manage your emotional health.