In our complex world, it’s easy to lose sight of the most important person you really need to care for – you! Sometimes we need help to take a fresh look at our lives so we can move beyond the “same old, same old” to create the life we want. That’s where working with a life coach can help. Life coaches are professionals who specialize in helping people clarify goals in their lives and develop plans of action to achieve them. In this article we look at the techniques used by life coaches that you can use to help alleviate the stress in your life and manage your time more efficiently so that you can realize your full potential.

Managing Stress Is Step One “Stress today is considered as much of a problem as excess weight, lack of exercise, and smoking – all contributing factors that can lead to heart attack and stroke,” according to Consumer Reports on Health. Life coaches teach people how to deal with the stress in their lives by focusing on what they can control and change versus the things that are beyond their control. This is an important first step in taking care of yourself.

Maria Lesetz, a Certified Life Coach, was diagnosed with MS several years ago. She realized that she had a choice in how she responded to this news, and today teaches others to see an MS diagnosis as a challenge that can be met. Based in Oregon, she has helped thousands of individuals lessen stress in their lives by learning how to swap limiting thoughts and beliefs for more empowering ones.

“Reducing stress is an essential step on the road to well-being,” says Lesetz. That’s why she makes stress-reduction a key part of her coaching. Lesetz recommends meditation to help students improve their overall health and achieve the goals that they truly desire in life.

The first step is for people to take some time every day to meditate so that they can visualize the life they want. “You can’t live your dreams until you’ve first clarified exactly what you want,” says Lesetz. “Meditation doesn’t have to involve difficult yoga-like contortions. It simply means putting aside a block of time to sit quietly, breathe deeply, and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Everyone can learn to meditate – anywhere.”

Practical Hints to Managing Your Life
Life coaches recommend a structured approach to improving the quality of one’s life. Because it’s difficult for most of us to keep a host of details in our head, they suggest having a calendar handy to note errands and appointments, and they underscore the importance of checking it daily.

Another suggestion is to prioritize one’s activities by thinking hard about what’s most important to do first, second, third, etc. In addition, they advise clients to develop a checklist to ensure that they hold to their schedules so that they can actually accomplish the activities they’ve prioritized.

Oftentimes, life coaches recommend that you shouldn’t try to handle two or more tasks simultaneously. Multitasking is a common contributor to stress. When you concentrate on doing one thing at a time, chances are you’ll make fewer mistakes and lower your frustration level.

The importance of letting go is also a lesson to be learned. For example, if you’re doing some research and you’re having difficulty finding exactly what you’re looking for – and perhaps getting a bit frustrated – life coaches suggest moving on to another task and then returning to the research at a later time. And, most importantly, they recommend that you always remember to reward yourself for a job well done!

Using the Power of the Mind to Conserve Energy
One of the key lessons for all of us to learn is the “power of our human energy,” according to New York-based life coach David Dowd. He believes that our minds can be our greatest friend – or our greatest foe. “Our body and mind are capable of taking care of ourselves. It’s only a matter of letting go of the things that get in our way.”

“We should gravitate to what inspires and energizes us,” says Dowd, “because our energy is the most important thing of all, and things that sap or distract energy from helping us are detrimental to our health. Don’t ever ask or answer the question ‘why?’” Dowd advises. “It just consumes energy and wastes time.”

How to Find a Life Coach If You Want One
Wherever you live, there’s probably a life coach in your area. Locating the one that suits you best will take some time, but it’s worth it. Start by talking to someone on your healthcare team. Or perhaps contact a nonprofit organization such as the Omega Institute, which is dedicated to awakening the best in the human spirit through innovative educational experiences. The Institute also offers a variety of workshops and programs that focus on stress reduction.

Or check out the International Coach Federation website (www.coachfederation.org/ICF). Look under the Coach Referral section, which lets you search for a coach by both geographic area and by fee.  Fees for a life coach can range from less than $150 a month to more than $1,000 a month, so find one that fits your needs and pocketbook. The investment can be well worth it because in every session you may learn something helpful that can be incorporated into your everyday life.

In short, your focus should be on making choices that move your life forward and that help you explore how you can make time for better emotional as well as physical health.  Ultimately, taking care of number one – you – should be your first priority.  And, according to the experts, that’s exactly the way it should be.

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