This month, we talk to Katie Denyer, Career and Wellbeing Coach.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
I am a certified coach helping people slow down and think differently about who they are, what they do, and how they do it. My clients typically feel as if they’re “not good enough”. They feel stressed, overwhelmed, dissatisfied and stuck in some way. I work with people to get to the root of what is happening so that they can find real confidence, clarity and fulfilment in their lives, both personally and professionally.
What motivated you to pursue a career in coaching?
I wanted to give people time to think for themselves and to feel seen and heard. To provide a space for people to focus on what they really want and who they really are. To help them realise they do not need to be reduced to thinking “that’s just the way it is”, and to support them in finding another way. I wanted them to discover that they are so much more capable than they think they are and to help them unlock their deepest potential.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your clients?
I have noticed a huge shift in clients’ focus during sessions, particularly around wellbeing. People are struggling to cope with all the chaos and uncertainty we are now facing. Coaching has provided a safe space for clients to really talk about their fears and anxieties, to help slow them down and to restore a sense of calm. It has given them the opportunity to think differently about what they need in order to live happier, healthier lives, how to be kinder to themselves, and has introduced them to new, more effective ways of managing this rapidly changing world we now find ourselves in.
Children are returning to school after a long summer of uncertainty. Do you have any advice for them?
Yes – I would encourage them to find someone they trust to talk to openly and honestly about how they’re feeling, and to know that they are not alone. We have all felt scared, anxious, lonely and confused over the past few months and sharing these experiences can help big, overwhelming feelings seem much smaller. If you find it too difficult talking to someone try writing or drawing instead.
I would also advise them to focus on their breathing. When everything feels too much, take ten slow, deep breaths. Inhale for 5, hold for 3 and exhale completely. This will help you relax, wherever you may be.
And finally I would say, be kind – to yourself and to other people. We are all going through a lot and friendships may feel a little weird at the moment; that’s ok. Things will shift and change with time. Support, listen to, and be kind to one another.
Do you have any tips for parents to help support their children as they readjust to classroom learning?
I would say to keep communication open and try to model a calm, pragmatic attitude. The brain needs to feel calm before it can learn effectively so having a consistent, familiar routine at home will provide some level of predictability and help successful readjustment to classroom learning.
Also, make time to listen to their thoughts, feelings and concerns. Show that you understand without always needing to solve every issue. It shows that you have confidence in their ability to cope, which in turn increases their self-belief. If they are slightly older, ask them what they need from you; it is important not to assume, and they can often say if given the opportunity to do so.
Go through the breathing exercise above with them. It will help embed and normalise the technique, and they can learn how to engage with the tool discreetly.
Finally, what are your own top coping strategies for times of change?
I focus on what is within my control and try to let go of anything that is not. I connect more with the people who make me feel good, and I share how I am feeling. I maintain a routine, ensure I am exercising, feeding myself well and spending time outdoors. I look at what is going well in my life; where I have safety and stability. And I write every morning for 25 minutes. Sometimes it can be deep and meaningful, other times it is about what I need to do that day and the fact I am out of milk. The process of writing frees up space in my mind for everything else that’s going on.