At first I didn’t believe it.
I thought she must be mistaken.
I’m not a war veteran so how can I even have PTSD or have the nerve to associate such a condition with my own situation when those soldiers have seen such horrific scenes?
But I do, and I’ll explain what that has to do with you and your coaching in second.
First, let’s use my experience as an example of what any single one of your participants might be dealing with in their lives outside of your sessions… and then look at what you can do to help.
In my early 20s I was physically assaulted in my own home by my housemate’s girlfriend.
I don’t remember the exact details of what happened, so I can’t logically explain it to myself.
All I know is that, along with the bruises across my spine that made me look like a zebra, and a broken little finger, somehow I had the overwhelming sense that I had brought this “fight” on myself.
I was so ashamed that I didn’t tell anyone for almost 20 years. Not one soul.
I shoved those feelings so deep down in my being so that I could try to move on with my life – and I did. I totally forgot about the “fight” for at least 17 years.
But what I didn’t know then, was that emotional stress is the leading cause of injury, so looking back, it makes sense that as I continued my career into the fitness industry, I was plagued by one injury after another.
And it also makes sense that my body was so sensitive to conventional treatment that I would often come out feeling worse that when I went in.
My career has led me down the road of understanding the physicality of injuries, but my own experience has led me to understand that it’s not possible to have good physical health when emotional stress is so high.
I now know that PTSD has four clusters of symptoms:
Intrusive – including recurring, unwanted images and thoughts of the traumatic event, and dreams or nightmares about it (I would often dream of fighting someone I couldn’t see)
Avoidant – feeling distressed after being reexposed to people, places or reminders of the original traumatic events (I can’t cope with angry or forceful people/personalities or any sense of feeling trapped)
Depressive – sadness, loss of pleasure from anything, a sense of guilt, an overfocus on negative things, and basically a feeling of emotional and physical exhaustion (I’ve had overwhelming feelings like this at various stages over the last couple of decades)
Alteration in stress responses and reactivity – over active stress responses and being overly reactive. Anxiety, hypervigilance, increased startle response, high and variable heart rate, and sleep problems (My overactive stress responses don’t allow me to train to high intensities)
So, what does this have to do with you and your coaching?
Well, I would never in a million years have associated myself with having PTSD, and I’ll be honest, even though it was recognised a couple of years ago now, I still find it hard to talk about – especially in person.
And no offense, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go to those deep dark places with you, or anyone who’s trying to coach me in fitness.
You see, for me, talking about it in person is way too confronting.
I tried sitting with a counsellor once, but she sat opposite me, clipboard in hand, making notes on everything I said. She was lovely, but for me it wasn’t helpful.
I finally started making progress when I could talk to someone over the phone.
And using my own experience in videos, articles and emails to help other people is great too, because it’s on my terms.
But I’m not special.
I’m not unique.
EVERYONE has had to deal with something traumatic in their lives that is impacting their ability to improve their physical health.
And that’s how it’s relevant to you and your coaching.
To meet me in person, you’d never suspect that I’d been struggling in this way. Heck, my family didn’t even know until a couple of years ago (sorry Mum & Dad).
But that’s exactly the point.
People struggling with emotional distress, of whatever level, don’t lead a conversation with it.
They don’t shout about it from the rooftops.
They only show you the sides of them that they WANT you to see.
So, while YOU might be comfortable talking about mental health, your people might not want to go there with you.
But emotions underpin ALL areas of physical health.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to help someone lose weight, run a marathon, win an Olympic gold medal or even climb mount Everest, their emotions dictate their ability to:
– avoid & recover from injury
– fight illness
– absorb nutrients
– digest food
– sleep & recover from exercise
– train hard
– motivate themselves
– develop & maintain good habits
– and much more
So, if you really want to help your participants achieve their fitness goals and develop long-term health & happiness, you’re gonna need some more tools in your box around mental health than just talking about it.
I’ve outlined exactly what these are in the Amazon bestselling book “Unlocking Fitness Book 1 – Mental & Physical Health Decoded”, so if you haven’t got your copy yet, head on over to Amazon right now and grab one.
Oh, and if you’re ready to take things to the next level, make sure you check out “The Vault of Injury Prevention Secrets” online training course where I’ll walk you through exactly how to put some awesome strategies into practice!