Business Coaches Are Replacing Consultants. Is That Good?

Over the last few years, many companies have made a major change in their operations: ditching business consultants for business coaches.

While we won’t see business consultants going away for good, it’s clear that a lot of business executives and companies now come with different needs that coaching can fulfill much better than consultancy.

The key difference between the two lies in who will take the actual steps required for change. With business consultants, though some can provide coach-like support, it is common for these individuals to do the work and resolve the target problem. When it comes to coaching, the work is very much done by the person who receives the service.

But to understand why companies are moving from consulting to coaching, let’s take a closer look at each of them.

What Is Business Coaching?

Business coaches collaborate with owners, CEOs, and other actors in leadership and management positions in order to improve certain aspects that pertain both to the individual’s skills, and the company’s bottom line.

Coaches provide guidance and support to leaders and help them get the results they want both long-term and short-term.

For instance, they can:

  • Help leaders improve their communication skills
  • Assume the role of a mentor
  • Take a holistic approach when helping their clients
  • Guide clients through various processes, and help them overcome their challenges, etc.

What Is Business Consulting?

A business consultant is an expert in a specific discipline who provides their expertise for a company. For example, if a company wants to improve its IT systems, it may hire an IT consultant for more specialized support.

Business consultants will come in, analyze the issue at hand, and provide a solution designed to solve the issue. In some cases, they may even oversee the implementation of said solution.

Business consultants often:

  • Works in a project-based format
  • Focuses on business problems and not staff challenges
  • Creates an actionable plan to fix business problems, etc.

Why Are Companies Switching from Consultants to Coaches?

Consultants and coaches provide extremely different services. Yet, as companies are turning more and more to coaches for help, there seems to be a change in the needs that companies are looking to address.

Especially, the need to invest in people, not just the company operations. Business coaches work together with CEOs, leaders, and other key staff members to improve a company’s operation, yes, but the approach is vastly different here than in the case of a consultant.

The business coach helps the client improve their approach, enhance the skills they need for the job, and face challenges as a way to also enhance business operations. Companies now realize they need to invest in their people just as much as they invest in their operations.

Are Consultant Gigs Over?

Of course, there is a need for both. Consultants and coaches both provide essential services to improve a company’s health.

But the growing demand for coaches clearly shows that businesses are realizing they can’t ignore the need for stronger leadership anymore.

Helping Employees Get Through the Loneliness Epidemic

The world is going through a loneliness epidemic that started even before the COVID-19 pandemic distanced people even further from each other. Around 43% of people reported struggling with loneliness, and the effects can be felt across the board:

  • Social life
  • Happiness levels
  • Job performance
  • Even physical health

Loneliness can have severe impacts on an individual’s mental health especially. Companies looking to provide better wellness support to their employees may want to start with ways to combat this epidemic.

Should Companies Help Employees Feel Less Lonely?

For starters, let’s answer the question: is it the company’s job to fight against employee loneliness rates?

It’s well established that companies who offer their employees solid resources designed to support their wellness benefit from higher employee retention rates and manage to attract better-qualified people for new positions.

And in 2022 and going forward, helping combat loneliness is one of the pillars of wellness, as loneliness is known to be even worse for a person’s health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day or obesity.

Not just that, but being lonely can increase the risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Early mortality
  • Even cognitive decline

Loneliness affects a person’s outlook on life, their motivation, and can even slash job performance. Companies who want to invest in wellness programs for their employees must ensure that at least part of their efforts goes into countering the loneliness epidemic their teams already face.

How Can Companies Combat Employee Loneliness?

Creating opportunities where employees can connect and engage is one of the best ways for companies to tackle the loneliness epidemic. But because this issue can result in negative effects on many levels, a more comprehensive approach should cover a few key areas:

  • Physical health – Helping employees take care of their physical health, either through company-created programs or facilitated access to certain medical services is one of the major components of an employee wellness program, even one designed to combat loneliness specifically;
  • Mental health – Awareness regarding mental health is increasing, yet access to such services is still low. Companies who want to help employees combat loneliness can invest in mental health services;
  • Physical activity – Sports and an active lifestyle can improve both physical and mental health. Companies can offer discounts or paid memberships to sports centers, and gyms, or even conduct their own sporting activities and encourage company-wide participation;
  • Socialization – Be it through game nights, team buildings, or office parties, such informal activities can help employees connect with each other, build stronger relationships, and even feel less isolated from their peers;
  • Mentorship and coaching – Some employees could benefit from coaching programs designed to help them connect with their peers, teams, and even collaborators. These types of programs can assist the employee in learning essential life skills and growing confidence in their own abilities.

Loneliness doesn’t have a simple cure, nor can it be fixed rapidly.

However, if companies become aware of the problem, they can build a solid framework and help their employees navigate this new reality.

Bad Coaching Habits That Are A Huge Red Flag

Coaching can be a powerful way to help employees, team leaders, and even CEOs better navigate their daily challenges. It can make room for growth that benefits both the individual receiving the coaching, as well as the overall company.

However, it’s fair to say that not all coaches are created equal. Even with a thorough vetting process and analyzing their qualifications (that sound amazing on paper), it’s important to make sure the coach you work with is a match.

And if they are guilty of any of these bad coaching habits, you may want to rethink this relationship and keep looking:

  1. Trying to Fix Things

    The coach is not someone who will step into a business and start fixing everything that’s not working. Their role is not disruptive in any way – rather, they work with the client to help them change the way they operate.

    Coaches are often tempted to give people the answer or solution to a problem. But the good ones refrain from doing so and instead help the client reach that conclusion by themselves.

  1. Interrupting the Process

    Coaching is a lengthy process and may come with lots of silent moments. Some may try to “fill” these moments and shift the process needlessly to avoid these dull moments.

    But any good coach knows that silence doesn’t necessarily mean nothing is happening. If a coach doesn’t allow their client these moments of reflection, they can accidentally prevent them from saying something crucial or having an “aha” moment.

  1. Always Going Back to the “Book”

    Coaches can each have their own style or frameworks. But as a general rule, these guides need to be adapted to the specific needs and expectations of the person they are coaching, as well as the company.

    If a coach doesn’t seem to be flexible with their framework, and worse even disrupts the process by always going back to their set of rules, it could be an indication that the coach is not a great match.

  1. Doing the Client’s Work for Them

    Coaches can get very close to their clients – they get to know their wishes, expectations, and fears. Some may be tempted to help their clients here and there and do the work for them. It can be something as simple as writing an email on their behalf to even telling them exactly what to say during an important call.

    In either case, this is a huge red flag. Coaches should guide the process, not take charge of it.

  1. Overwhelming the Client

    Another red flag is a coach who gives the client too much homework, especially beyond the office hours. Business professionals have a lot on their plates on a daily basis, and coaches should not try to take hold of what little free time they have.

    Not only can that lead to burnout, but it can overwhelm the client to the point where they cannot even benefit from coaching at all. And this can render the entire process useless.

Coaching Someone Who Doesn’t Want Help

When we discuss how to coach someone, it’s always presumed that the person is open to being helped.

But as managers and HR specialists know, that’s not always the case. You may have a hard-working employee who could grow much faster with a bit of support but is resistant to help from their peers or even supervisors.

This can create a rather strange dynamic in the workplace. But can you overcome it and get this coaching-resistant employee to accept your help?

Why Do Some People Resist Coaching?

People can be wary of coaching for several reasons, but 3 common ones can be:

  • They Think Coaching Means They Are Not Capable

Some individuals may believe that when a manager reaches out and offers help it is because they are not capable of achieving a task or goal on their own. Of course, being coached doesn’t mean the person is not competent or qualified.

In fact, in most cases, it’s quite the opposite. A company may choose to invest in coaching the employee who shows the most potential. But if the employee struggles with their confidence, they may see it very differently than HR or managers do.

  • Change Is Difficult for Them

Coaching involves a lot of changes. From a person’s beliefs to their preferred approaches for navigating challenges or even specific actions, the coaching-resistant employee may simply not be comfortable with this level of change.

Whether it’s because they believe their way is the right way, or usually have a difficult time navigating new waters, fear of change is a huge deterrent to people’s willingness to accept help.

  • They Don’t Want to Be Held Accountable

Of course, coaching can be done for the employee who needs more support and to improve their performance. That’s a difficult position for some people to be put in, as it means they need to be held accountable for their actions.

And for some, shedding light on their misses, failures, or promises they did not follow through on is something to be avoided at all costs.

Can You Coach Someone Who’s Resistant?

Some ways to navigate this situation can include:

  • Hear them out – Simply ask your employee why they do not want to be coached. This can help you understand their position and even clear the air, which could get them to change their stance;
  • Explain your reasons – Tell your employee why you think they can benefit from coaching from the perspective of the company, but also their personal growth;
  • Bring someone from the outside – The employee may feel uncomfortable discussing their weakness or fears with a supervisor or someone from inside the company. In these cases, they are usually much more likely to open up to someone from the outside.

It’s important to understand that coaching is a two-way street.

You cannot force a person to accept your help, but you can try to level with them and understand where the resistance is coming from. This way, you may identify a better way to support them.

Accountability In Coaching: Why Credentials Matter

The world of coaching is fast-growing. It’s easier now than ever before to become a coach and start assisting people with a variety of goals, be they on a professional or personal level. However, in the past, many of these coaches have begun their journey after reading a few books on a dedicated topic, without holding much experience or expertise in the field.

This will soon stop as moving forward, people’s needs are changing greatly. More and more people have easy access to coaching services, which means we will see “new” problems that coaches will have to navigate.

And these new problems that people face will require a certain level of expertise from industry players. That, coupled with the natural rise in the entry barrier as more and more people enter the industry, are the reasons why it’s becoming more and more important to showcase your credentials in the coaching industry.

Why Are People’s Needs Changing?

It’s not necessarily that individuals encounter new problems in their personal or professional goals, though an argument can certainly be made for this as well, considering the aftermath of the global health pandemic.

More so, coaching services are today more accessible than ever. From companies that are offering employees at all levels programs to help them grow to virtual sessions you can access anytime and from anywhere, coaching is easier to tap into.

And this means that groups that have historically not been a part of the industry can also turn to coaches for help. One example would be the rise of BIPOC people seeking support and guidance in their professional journey.

It’s impossible to take out who they are, and the social-economic struggles of the community from their journey. This is why we can see a rise in BIPOC-focused coaches that specifically helps members of this community thrive.

And This Is Why Credentials Matter

As people are stepping into coaching more aware of the challenges they face in their career and personal journey, word of mouth and client testimonials aren’t enough to persuade them.

Coaching today and moving forward must instead place a bigger focus on legitimate credentials and proven models that can show the client the path they are about to follow can yield success. The promise of a big outcome won’t mean much if the coach cannot describe how they plan to get you there.

What Does This All Mean for the Client?

The industry will likely see a surge in new job openings and individuals entering the market. Clients will have more options than ever, but choosing between these options needs time.

Your coach is the person most qualified and capable to help you with your specific issue. Certification, experience, and proven models are just some of the elements you need to assess before beginning a relationship with a new coach.

So never base your decision on who makes the biggest promise. Review how the coach is planning to get you to reach your goals, to make an informed decision.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership

Around 65% of millennials believe they’re not equipped to be leaders yet as they lack the necessary employer support for management positions.

Leadership training and coaching are very much still necessary in 2022 and beyond, as people understand the responsibilities that such positions often require. And to be a good leader, it’s worth taking a look at the 7 deadly sins that leadership often faces:

  1. Not Knowing Who You Are

    It’s not uncommon for the image we have of ourselves to be vastly different from how others perceive us. Leaders who are not confident in their strengths and know their weaknesses can easily become their worst enemies.

  1. Avoiding Difficult Conversations

    It’s human nature to want to avoid difficult conversations. And yet, this is a luxury that leaders can’t always afford. To be a good leader, you have to be comfortable with opposing views and standing your ground.

    Difficult conversations are often necessary to facilitate change and improve operations.

  1. Focusing on “Being Liked”

    Speaking of human nature, we all want to be well-liked in any group: family, friends, and at work. However, while being well-liked is certainly important for a leader, this idea cannot become a guiding force in your decision-making.

  1. Avoiding Decisions

    There’s no other way to do it: leaders need to make decisions all the time. And some of them are hard.

    One pitfall here is trying to postpone or even avoid the process because of the fear of failure. This can hinder organizational growth and even impact your growth as a leader and professional.

  1. Not Facilitating Change

    A leader’s job is to help the organization and its employees grow. They are a conductor of change, which also means they need to be flexible enough to adapt to such changes.

    When the leader hinders change because they prefer the status quo, this is a huge issue for the entire organization.

  1. Ineffective Communication

    Communication skills can often make or break a leader. They must be well-versed in all mechanisms of language, be they verbal, non-verbal, or written. Often, they need to facilitate or encourage communication within the conversation, which is rather impossible without solid communication skills.

  1. Not Focusing on Your Potential

    People often view a leadership position as the prize in the career race. However, getting to the finish line doesn’t mean your journey of growth stops here.

    Good leaders know they must always grow their potential, and skills, and look outside themselves for assistance in leading a team or an organization.

How Can You Become a Good Leader?

We’ve seen that a lot of the time, people require specialized support to help them navigate the new challenges of leadership. One-on-one leadership coaching can help individuals get this support and navigate these 7 deadly sins of leadership.

As to whether the sins can be avoided entirely – that depends. To err is human, after all, but how a leader bounces back from these errors is much more indicative of their leadership abilities than whether they can avoid them altogether.

Wellness Programs: Are They Now Mandatory for an Organization?

Society is forever changed after 2 years of being held in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. While people, companies, and industries are still figuring things out, we can already see some massive changes when it comes to the workplace.

Specifically, changes to how companies are starting to measure, retain, and even entice their employees.

Say what you want about the pandemic, but it has underlined the need for comprehensive wellness programs that can take care of a person from a holistic standpoint. Companies are also realizing they are not just the main factor that could influence a person’s financial life. They also play a huge role in their employee’s wellness.

The Stats on Corporate Wellness Programs

A Gartner Survey of 52 HR executives found that companies are doubling down on their wellness programs:

  • 94% invested extra in their wellness programs
  • 85% increased support for mental health
  • 50% increased support for physical health
  • 38% increased support for financial health

Wellness isn’t just the responsibility of the employee anymore. Companies are realizing that through comprehensive wellness programs, they can better predict and improve employee performance, and even increase employee retention.

Because it’s not just companies warming up to these programs: individuals are seeking services to improve their well-being in different ways.

What Should a Wellness Program Include?

If your organization is now looking to establish its first wellness program, the very first step to take is assessing the current well-being of your employees.

Wellness programs work best when they can directly speak to the needs, expectations, and individual circumstances of employees. For example, a company with many young adults may need family planning services. Notoriously competitive industries and high stress should strengthen their mental health services.

By asking your employees, you can effectively learn what they need from a wellness program. In general, such programs will take a holistic approach to help employees lead a balanced life, such as:

  • Physical health services – Such as adding health and fitness services to the program, providing tools and resources of education, or binding on a health coach to help employees improve their physical health;
  • Mental health services – Implementing stress-reduction protocols, educating employees about their mental health, improving their access to mental health services, etc.
  • Financial health – Helping employees plan their financial future, save money, invest, and even create safety nets in case of emergencies.

Of course, the wellness program can have many additional layers, depending on the needs and expectations of your employees.

Do Wellness Programs Work?

Helping someone improve their well-being isn’t a one-sided task: it takes 2 to tango.

But what wellness programs do is offer employees an easy, accessible way to take care of their health and well-being.

Whether at an individual level it will work or not, generally depends on the person. Some thrive better with 1-on-1 wellness coaching than with broad coaching programs.

But even so, wellness programs work towards improving the company-employee relationship and offer people all the resources they need to care for themselves and their well-being.

The Hardest Lesson: Saying “No”

By: David Herdlinger

In professional and personal coaching, at one point you just have to find a way to help people say one, yet extremely powerful word:

“No.”

It can be daunting to do it.

People are so used to this idea that you have to always be available, a team player, and willing to go the extra mile to show your worth at all times. It’s thought of as the most effective way to move forward in your professional life.

But in reality, saying no can be very beneficial in your career.

When Should You Be Saying “No”?

Your career will present you with countless opportunities to say no:

  • Recruitment pitches that don’t work for your career path at all
  • Requests for free stuff (advice, labor, etc.)
  • Low-ball offers
  • Extra work that isn’t compensated
  • Colleague interruptions, etc.

Learning how to say no can give you a competitive advantage because you can use it to deter the events that aim to take you off your path toward reaching your career goals.

Doing someone a favor once in a while isn’t necessarily bad. It can be a way to strengthen your relationship with managers and co-workers. But if you have a habit of saying “yes” to everything, at one point you can end up:

  • Overworked
  • Underpaid
  • Frustrated
  • Exhausted
  • Confused about your future

So, How Can You Say ”No” Without Jeopardizing Your Career?

A lot of the time, the clients I work with have a problem in terms of mindset.

They see saying the word “no” mostly from the perspective of the other person, and how it will affect them. How they won’t get the help they need, the advice, or the task done.

But, it’s important to put yourself back into the story because saying “no” also affects you.

Here are a few tips that can help you figure out when and how to say “no” without it jeopardizing your career:

  • Take a few moments – You don’t have to accept or reject a proposal right away. Just say “give me a few minutes to think it over”;
  • Evaluate your priorities – Consider your goals, and how this proposal fits into your journey. Does it help? Does it distract you from your path? Does it prevent you from focusing on other things?;
  • Consider the results of saying yes – Now think about the scenario of saying yes. What would that look like? Would it be beneficial to you? Can you do it alone or would you need more support?
  • Rip the bandaid – If you analyze the proposal and want to reject it, then it’s best to rip the bandaid off, just say “no”, and add your reasoning.

I’m not going to lie, it will most likely still be difficult at first, even if you follow these steps.

You will need to give yourself some time to embrace the idea that saying “no” is not the end of the world, and that it can actually help you move forward with your career goals.

And eventually, it will happen!

 

 

Achieving Success: Do You Need Personal or Career Coaching?

By: David Herdlinger

It’s a question many of my clients looking to meet success often ask me: what type of coaching is most suitable for them and their goals?

Do you need a career coach to help you stay on track in your professional life? Or, do you need a personal development coach to help you unlock more fulfillment?

And the truth is… most people need both!

Unpacking the “Difference” Between Personal and Career Coaching

It’s easy to think that the two areas of coaching are completely distinct from each other.

When it comes to career coaching, you’d expect:

  • Analyzing your career path and opportunities
  • Get support in case you need to reassess your professional life
  • Unlock even more growth opportunities
  • Determining your goals and staying on your career path to meet them

While personal coaching seems to focus on other areas in your life:

  • Identify the skills you lack and build them (such as confidence, communication, etc.)
  • Create more opportunities for personal fulfillment and happiness
  • Finding ways to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Cultivating a sense of well-being in your life

If you look at it this way, it’s easy to think the two have almost nothing to do with each other. But before you consider working with two different coaches to reach your personal and professional goals, there is one key thing to understand:

These two facets in your life are so intertwined that working on one aspect automatically influences the other.

Success Is Determined by Having a Balance in Both These Worlds

Many personal issues can have a great impact on your professional life, positive or negative. And the reverse is also true.

Only when you have to make real choices, you can understand this strong link. You can’t truly help a person move forward in their career if they are battling with certain personal issues that are indirectly creating unnecessary obstacles. You can assist them in writing the best resumes out there, do countless mock interviews to ensure they get the job, but if, for instance, you don’t address the stress in their personal lives, you know their performance will be affected. And so will their ability to reach their goals.

Choose the “Right” Coach Instead of the “Right Type”

A coach is a person who provides you with 1:1 support to help you improve your life. The means to do it or the goals can differ from person to person, but that’s pretty much it.

So unless you’re looking to work on some very niche aspects of your life, I wouldn’t concern myself too much with the label that comes after “coach” as long as this person:

  • Has the right experience and qualifications
  • Understands your situation, and is able to genuinely empathize
  • Can provide you with support in a way that’s comfortable to you (such as face-to-face, online, on specific days, etc.)
  • You feel you can trust

And the last one is, by far, the most important! Because if you don’t trust your coach, you will not trust the process.

Take Care: Ground Yourself

How do you take care and ground yourself?

More than ever, it’s critical that we take care of our bodies and mind. After all, our success depends on being able to function in a healthy, productive manner.

So when your flight, fight, freeze, or fawn response is triggered, how do you respond? How do you signal to your body when you are in real danger, and when you are experiencing stress?

The term “stress” is overused and often misunderstood, as it’s bandied about to describe both cause and effect:

  • Cause: “There’s a lot of stress at work these days.”
  • Effect: “I’m so stressed that I can’t think straight.”

It’s interesting to note that while neuroscience has taught us a great deal about stress, we cannot always distinguish between the psychological state of stress and the physiological response to it. What is clear is that if we’re in a chronic state of high-level stress, emotional strain leads to physical consequences. The body responds with anxiety and depression, as well as high blood pressure, heart problems and cancer. Chronic stress eats away at the brain’s connective tissue.

We can’t completely eliminate stress. But, we can better manage our body’s natural responses to stress. We can take control, ground ourselves, and even improve our brain’s ability to function.

The Science

Severe stress activates the “emergency phase,” commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. It’s a complex physiological reaction that marshals resources to mobilize the body and brain to peak performance. Fortunately, it engraves the memory so we can avoid this stressor in the future.

Our ingrained reaction is essentially a three-step process:

  • Recognize the danger.
  • Fuel the reaction.
  • Remember the event for future reference.

Unfortunately, any amount of stress triggers neurological systems that manage attention, energy, and memory. Moreover, we can find ourselves in a constant state of stress. You see, the mind is so powerful that we can set off a stress response just by imagining ourselves in a threatening situation. It’s time to take good care and ground ourselves.

Grounded is a state of being when you’re feeling your emotions and you’re aware of your present moment experience. Being grounded also means that you’re feeling responsible for your safety and well-being. Grounding is an effective therapeutic approach for managing stress, anxiety, and improving overall mental health.

Stress and Your Autonomic Nervous System

The human body is pretty amazing. Not only can most of us choose if, when, where, how, and why to use it, there are systems that automatically work for us. Our autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates our breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and many other functions that allow us to survive.

The traditional view of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is that of a two-part system:

  1. Sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is more activating, and can be triggered by stress to fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. The burst of cortisol may cause our hands to sweat, voice to shake, and stomach to clinch as our pulse rate and blood pressure rise. These are the physical manifestations of anxiety.
  2. Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which counter-balances our SNS and supports health, growth, and restoration. When our brain believes we are safe, we slow down and our systems reboot.

The Vagus Nerve

Our vagus nerve (pneumogastric nerve) is difficult to track, but we know that it is the longest nerve in the ANS. It extends throughout our thorax (esophagus, trachea, heart, and lungs; respiration and circulation) to the abdomen (stomach, pancreas, liver, kidneys, small intestine, and portion of large intestine; digestion and elimination). The vagus nerve can be very powerful, especially when we are feeling stress:

  1. It can trigger the parasympathetic response.
  2. Communicates from the brain to the body and from the body to the brain.

Dr. J. Eric Vance, MD, writes in Psychiatric Times (May 2018) that we are in a constant state of surveillance for risk, safety, threats, and opportunities to respond. He refers to this process as “neuroception.” Fortunately, we can practice calming techniques that send a signal from our body to our brain that we are safe.

Activate Your Parasympathetic Response

Your parasympathetic response (PNS) is your body’s way of returning to rest or calm. Think of it like this: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) works to stimulate fight, flight, freeze, or fawn—ways to keep us alive when in danger. The parasympathetic response system is our parachute out of danger: this system regulates our emotions in stressful situations.

Fortunately, there are ways we can strengthen our parachutes:

  1. Practice deep-breathing (engage vagal tone). Your vagal tone is a measurement of your heart rate variability when practicing slow, deep breathing. A stronger vagal tone leads to better blood sugar regulation, heart health, and digestion; a reduction in migraines; and greater emotional stability and resilience. Lower vagal tone is associated with mood instability, depression, PTSD, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment, and inflammation. Fortunately, deep, slow breathing can increase your vagal tone and trigger parasympathetic response.
    1. To determine your vagal tone, find your pulse. Notice any change as you slowly breathe in and out. If it increases as you breathe in and decreases as you breathe out, you have a stronger vagal tone.
    2. To strengthen your vagal tone, practice slow, deep-breathing.
  2. Soften the eyes/gaze (use peripheral vision). Softening the gaze, or focus, relaxes nerves in and around the eyes. This often occurs naturally when you are lost in thought or daydream. Conversely, when your SNS has been triggered you may experience tunnel vision. When we use peripheral vision, we signal the brain and trigger the PNS.
    1. To soften your gaze, squeeze and relax your eyes. Expand your vision to the sides: notice what is at the outer edges of your vision.
  3. Valsalva maneuver (increase chest cavity pressure). This practice can trigger the heart to slow down.
    1. To practice this, bear down to compress your stomach to your pelvic floor. Alternatively, you can close your mouth, pinch your nose, and try to exhale as you would to alleviate ear pressure. My favorite practice is to breathe in slowly for five second, hold the breath while bearing down, and then slowing exhaling. I do this once or twice, then breathe normally for 30 seconds, and repeat the cycle.

These are just a few of the grounding techniques that we can use to activate our parasympathetic response. If you’d like more information, a qualified coach or therapist can help.