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The Neuroscience of Coaching and Stress

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3. Reframing–finding an empowering way to look at the issue. The act of reframing (also known as taking a new perspective) invites our powerful thinking brain to the party, which calms down our limbic system (aka “stress”) responses. In other words, reframing enables our clients to actually think and not react. Being asked to try on a new perspective is like stopping a runaway train. It gets us out of the limbic system, which got activated by stress, and into the pre-frontal cortex. And when we can think about things using our higher, more developed mind, we do pretty well.

4. Mindfulness–meditation, being present to body sensations, focusing on gratitude/love. The number one, hands down, most effective solution to any neuroscience challenge. Stress, creativity, improving memory, being more emotionally intelligent—being mindful has been proven again and again to make a huge difference in all these areas.

As coaches, I believe we absolutely help our clients become more “mindful.” Even just a good coaching conversation brings people present into the moment and makes them pay attention to what is going on, rather than putting their attention on regrets from the past or worries about the future. In many schools they call this “process coaching,” where we take our clients deep into what they are experiencing, right here, right now. It can be almost like a guided meditation in dialogue, as we walk with them through a metaphor, or help them put their body sensations into words. It’s powerful, and can release old patterns and issues that have been stuck for years, simply by helping people be present.

Trust me on this one: If you do ONE THING for your client’s brains—and your own—help them find a way to spend time being present. This calms and strengthens and develops the parts of the brain we need the most. Fun brain fact: Einstein’s brain? Not bigger than yours or mine, but bigger in areas that are shown to increase through meditation.


This article was originally posted on the International Coach Federation Blog.

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