For Wellness Coach Wednesday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Leigha Benson, Certified Wellness Coach and graduate of IAWP. We talked about her journey from working in the corporate world to becoming a wellness coach through the power of her own story.
You’ll learn how to take your own story to uniquely help those you serve as well as how to create a thriving online community. Leigha also give tips on how to deal with anxiety, which is her coaching niche.
It All Started with a Blog
Leigha shared that she had a great corporate job. She was really comfortable there, but she felt really empty and unfulfilled. Yet she didn’t really want to take a risk.
She wanted to have a career where she could give back to people in a real impactful way. Leigha had always wanted to help others and make a difference. But becoming a therapist or psychologist wasn’t what she felt called to do.
Leigha went on maternity leave for a year and decided that she needed to figure out what she wanted to do in that timeframe. When she heard about coaching, she instantly felt aligned and called.
Leigha then started a blog where she revealed that she had been suffering from anxiety and depression. She had previously told no one of her struggles.
“I exhausted myself hiding it from the world,” she said.
To her surprise, she received a lot of positive feedback from everyone who read her post. People really appreciated her candor and felt less alone, knowing that there are other people suffering with mental health issues — and that there is help and support available.
With that strong and positive reaction to her blog post, Leigha had a light bulb moment. She had felt so free in sharing her story. And yet she knew that others still felt trapped in shame with the stigma of having a mental illness.
“I felt something shift inside of me. I felt energy, I can’t explain. I felt like I got this energy in me that pushed me to keep doing it. This feels so amazing and so good, I want to keep doing it, I have to keep doing it,” she said.
So this experience inspired her to become a Wellness Coach so she could empower others who have anxiety and depression.
After Leigha had that great experience with her blog and decided she wanted to become a coach, she started looking for health and wellness coaching schools and found the IAWP.
“And again, something clicked. I felt like this is exactly what I need, this is exactly I want, and everything just flowed effortlessly. That’s how I knew this was the right path for me,” she said.
By being tapped into her intuition, Leigha was able to follow her passions into a Wellness Coaching career.
Growing an Online Community
Even before Leigha had graduated from IAWP, she already had 20 clients, so how did she grow her now massive community?
First, Leigha intended to grow a large audience, so she started on Instagram. And just like she wrote in her blog post, she did not hold back in her posts. She was just as candid and raw about her healing journey with anxiety and depression.
“I think people connected with my posts in a huge way because I didn’t let myself feel any shame, I didn’t feel afraid of judgment. I let go and released all of those things, and I just said, ‘This is my story, this is who I am,’” she said.
She wanted to let people know that if she was at such a low point of her life and could rise above, then they could do it, too. Leigha still battles with anxiety now and again and is open about her struggles. But she’s figured out what tools and techniques help her stay grounded and healthy.
Some Social Media Tips
If you’re looking to start your own online community, you need to find what social media platform works for you. It doesn’t have to be Instagram. It can be using Twitter or facilitating a Facebook group.
If you’re on Instagram, find relevant hashtags (e.g., #wellness) to help widen your audience. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post.
Make sure to post relevant pictures and posts which relate to your niche.
If you have a blog or website, then being active on a social media platform can help drive traffic to your site.
If you’re wondering what to post about yourself, and feel like you need to have your life all together before you start helping others, Leigha gave some great advice: “Shock value goes a long way. It’s the story that you don’t want to tell that needs to be told because that’s the one that people silently struggle and suffer with.”
By being candid with your audience, you’ll be able to gain their trust. They’ll want to pick you as their coach because you know what they are going through. And you know how to get them where they need to be.
If you’re only a few steps ahead of someone, that really is the most inspiring place that you can be.
Qualifications Needed? Your Story + Your Passion
So many people may think that to do something and follow their passion, they need to be an authority, like a doctor, or have some expertise.
Your story can be so powerful to help transform the lives of others.
“I’m an expert on me,” Leigha said. And knowing this gave her confidence. “I can’t mess this up because this is my life, this is my story. This is what I’m telling the world, and my story will resonate who it’s supposed to resonate with.”
But you may not feel ready to start coaching clients, even if you are confident in your story. So start small. One way to do that is to have practice clients that provide free coaching services for.
While Leigha was in the IAWP Wellness Coach Certification program, she started taking on practice clients to build up her confidence. After receiving great feedback from her practice clients, she was able to start charging a fee. Many of her practice clients became paying clients because of how their lives changed after working with Leigha.
Simple Tips on How to Deal with Anxiety
I asked Leigha to share some tools and tips on how she helps her clients deal with their anxiety. Here’s what she shared:
- Build an awareness around your thought patterns. This is a huge tool because we all can get so busy in our everyday lives, we may not notice what’s really going on with us. So creating an awareness can go a long way to creating health and wholeness in your life. If you’re constantly putting yourself down, thinking about what can’t do, then anxiety can build through those negative thoughts.
- Start using positive affirmations. After becoming aware of your thoughts, you can start to shift them with positive affirmations. It may seem silly at first because you may not yet fully believe them, but some magic starts to happen. You start to feel empowered. You start to believe what you’re saying. You become your #1 fan and your #1 cheerleader.
- Make small goals every day. Whatever you’re trying to achieve in your life, create small, easy things to accomplish every day. This will build up your confidence and also help to shift your negative thought patterns. Over time, you’ll see that you are able to do so much even while you have anxiety.
- Remove yourself from the triggering situation. If you’re in a heated conversation or a stressful environment, you should feel free to remove yourself. Leave the table, leave the room, leave the building — and take some moments for yourself to regroup.
- Do some abdominal breathing. If you feel an anxiety or panic attack coming on, or you’re in fight-flight-or-freeze mode, put your hands on your stomach, breathe in through your mouth for 5 seconds and then slowly breathe out through your mouth for 7 seconds.
When it comes to deal with anxiety, Leigha suggested that you find what works for you–it could be therapy, medication, or working with a coach. It also helps to pay attention your anxious feelings over the holidays — Leigha has noticed people tend to be more anxious during that time.
Stress and the Connection to Anxiety
Leigha believes that stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand, so if stressful situations come up for her, then she knows she can become more anxious.
If she finds herself anxious for no reason, she’ll check in with herself to see if she’s properly hydrated and has been eating well. Leigha learned a lot from IAWP about how to eat for better mental health. She also credits the IAWP program for giving her have tools to help her clients with not only nutrition, but spiritual and emotional health as well.
Every step Leigha took in her journey had stressful or anxious moments — whether it was leaving her corporate job, writing her first blog post, starting the IAWP program, taking on practice clients, or sharing more of her story with social media. But Leigha’s passion for helping people always outweighed her fears.
Your passion and your story can help others heal — and you’re already an expert on your own journey.
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