When you hear the phrase peak performance, your mind probably first goes to athletics. You think of runners conditioning for a marathon or sports professionals preparing for the big game. However, once we really think about what it means to reach peak performance, it becomes clear that the actual meaning of the word extends far beyond physical exercise. Peak performance incorporates not only the physical, but also the spiritual, the interpersonal, and the professional into the mix. Everything from the quality of our nutrition to our mind-body connection plays a role in helping us to be our best selves.(1) As health coaches, it is our duty to help clients reach peak performance too.
Achieving optimal wellness is always a process that requires careful planning and personal insight. Unfortunately, the politically charged nature of our current times can make life feel even more overwhelming. Our social media feeds are often negative, while the always urgent 24/7 news cycle makes us worry and lose focus. Paying close attention to work, school, relationships, and health easily falls by the wayside as our heads are clouded with external activity.
Now more than ever, the public seeks to achieve overall wellness, as evidenced by the rising self-improvement and health coaching industries.(1) If you’re a health and wellness professional of any kind, then you’ve likely heard from your clients the desire to move past the relentless chatter of modern times and into a place of peak performance. You can guide them toward this goal by fostering positive self-care techniques and whole body wellness.
The Pathway to Peak Performance During Challenging Times
When planning for personal change, it’s helpful to visualize human needs and the impact of our environment on our wellness. The Wheel of Health from Duke Integrative Medicine is a helpful tool for professionals.(2)
The wheel illustrates four areas of focus: the person (the central focus), mindful awareness, self-care, and professional care. Within those areas rest a variety of essential needs, including physical care (movement, rest, and nutrition), stress prevention and healing, spirituality, personal and professional development, relationships, and the physical environment.
During peak performance, the mind is not loud or overwhelmed. Self-esteem and confidence are both high while the individual focuses on the journey, not the destination. The body is at its peak. You can use the Wheel of Health as a frame of reference as you work to help clients achieve this calm, productive mindset and work toward their goals.
Self-Care Suggestions for Your Clients
Self-care is a buzzword these days and everyone has a different view of the word. Spend some time getting to know how your clients view their own self-care. What makes them feel relaxed and focused? The answer can pave the way toward less stress and greater performance. You should also help them consider the following ideas during particularly challenging times:
Consider a yoga or meditation class.
Studies have shown that yoga has a powerful impact on the mind-body connection.(3) Yoga promotes positive changes within the brain and can help a person to manage common psychiatric conditions, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Yoga also helps with sleep, an important piece of achieving peak performance.(1)
Spend less time reading the news or scrolling through social media.
Helping clients to make positive changes in the way they receive news and social media updates is essential for clearing the mind and maintaining focus. While it’s important to remain aware of current events, help your client to set boundaries for better overall health. This is especially important when current events threaten to overwhelm. For instance, staying away from updates just before bed can lead to a better, less worrisome sleep.(1)
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Express difficult thoughts and feelings to loved ones.
Human beings crave social interaction and expression. While there are many benefits to sites like Facebook, social media can also give us the illusion of personal connection. Encourage your clients to spend valuable one-on-one time with friends and family.(1) They can use this time to share intimate worries or concerns that would otherwise be buried in an overburdened mind.
Identify integrative services that help clients reach peak performance.
An integrative health coach can help clients reach peak performance. Services outside of your own field may make a difference for that person, too. For example, if you’re a yoga teacher, then maintaining a referral network for acupuncture or massage providers in the area could be a terrific help to your clients.
Don’t underestimate nutrition.
Many wellness clients desire to lose weight or be more physically fit. Nutrition influences all aspects of our lives. Helping your clients to understand the components of solid nutrition and how nutrition relates to a more sound mind is another important step toward peak performance.
Health and Wellness for Turbulent Times
A health and wellness professional in today’s era must take into account the political climate and fast-paced nature of technology to help clients reach peak performance. Empower your clients to look after their mental health, ask for help when needed, and to practice good self-care while working to overcome life’s obstacles. Even small changes can make a big difference when it comes to achieving optimal wellness.
Guptha, Leena S. “Self-Care and Peak Performance During Challenging Times.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 31 Oct. 2018, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/embodied-wellness/201810/self-care-and-peak-performance-during-challenging-times.
“Wheel of Health.” Duke Integrative Medicine, dukeintegrativemedicine.org/patient-care/wheel-of-health/.
“Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat.” Harvard Health, Harvard Health Publishing, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat.