Managing the Caffeine A Coaching Tool
Our daily behavior is profoundly impacted by our patterns/decisions regarding sleep, exercise, exposure to light, and the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other mind-altering drugs (including caffeine). It may be hard to assist other people until they are “physiologically-primed/prepared” for this assistance. Should a coach insist that her client be physiologically prepared for the challenges of coaching prior to beginning the coaching process? If one’s client is taking more than 250 mg. per day of caffeine then this person is likely to be struggling with inadequate (interrupted) sleep. At 350 mg per day of caffeine, one’s client is likely to experience a diminished capacity to focus on a specific issue for a sustained period of time—the kind of concentration that is needed during a coaching session. The following Caffeine Consumption Checklist can help one’s coaching client determine his or her average consumption levels per day—to see if they total 250 mg or even 350 mg of caffeine.
A Regular Uses per Number of Average Basis
Over-the-Counter Medications Maximum Strength Anacin
TOTAL CAFFEINE INTAKE ON AN AVERAGE DAY
Starbucks [Obtained from Starbucks Website]
Latte/White Chocolate Mocha
Café Au Lait
Caffé Americano (Espresso)
Given your client’s assessment of their average level of caffeine consumption, you might wish to work with them on the following issues:
Assisting your client by having him identify the sources of caffeine in his daily
life and by encouraging him to reflect on the impact of this caffeine on his capacity to concentrate, manage stress and work effectively in interpersonal relationships.
Assisting your client by inviting her to consider ways in which to remain alert
other than through the consumption of caffeinated products. Perhaps exercise, a morning ritual (such as taking a shower, yoga, stretching) or a good night of sleep.
Assisting your client in his identification of settings in which he is most likely to
consume caffeinated beverages—before breakfast, during breakfast, on the way to work, around the water cooler, during lunch, after lunch, on the way home from work, during dinner, etc. The environment in which one consistently finds oneself during a specific time of day plays a powerful role in creating expectations and priming one’s body for the intake of specific foods, beverages, etc.
Encouraging your client to vary the environment in which she operates from day
to day. Habitual behavior can be more easily controlled if the environment is varied. For example, instead of eating breakfast before leaving for work, one can eat breakfast at a local diner once or twice a week on the way to work. Similarly, one can chat about the day’s news and events with a colleague while walking around the block rather than at the water cooler (with a cup of coffee in hand).
Setting a boundary for your client, refusing to engage in coaching with her until
she reduces her consumption of caffeinated substances. Without this reduction in caffeine consumption can she really concentrate on the coaching process? Can she really change her behavioral patterns? Can she really handle stress associated with any transitions or transformations in her life?
John Preston (with Agnes Mura), Lesson from Neuropsychologist John Preston, Psy.D.: On stress, Sleep, Energy and Solutions that Backfire, International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, v. 3, no. 2, pp. 16-21.
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