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Muddling Through The Stress And Anxiety

We thought the pandemic was a stressor on us, our families, and our businesses.  Now look where we are with a war going on ½ way across the world but having a big effect on us right here at home.

The truth is, there is always something going on…  in our business/job, family, community, and yes, around the world.  We’ve been through them before and we will get through them again.  You’re probably thinking, “Kevin, these events that we’ve been through and are going through are like nothing in recent history.”  You are right.  The pandemic that we went through and are still going through is unprecedented in most everyone’s lifetime.  This unwarranted invasion of a country in Europe is not unique but hasn’t happened in many years.  It is a first, in recent history, for the level of aggression and tension it is bringing around the world.  The recession of 2008 was also one of the biggest financial collapses since the depression.  We made it through that as well.

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” – Sun Tzu

My point is, we will have many events that loom in front of us that seem so dire.  These can throw us off of our game, both personally and professionally.  Don’t let them.  That’s right.  Don’t let them.

At this point you must think I’m crazy.  How can you not be affected by these things, if not directly, then indirectly? Let me say one thing about that.  (Or maybe several things.)  You have absolutely no control over outside events that are and will happen.  You have no control over what people will do.  The only control you have is over your mind and thoughts, and therefore over your actions and reactions.  That’s right.  How you react to these things happening is completely up top you.  You can put your hands up, play the Eeyore card (Winnie the Pooh reference), and say, “Woe is me.” or you can pause, take a breath, and look to see how you can make things better around you.

The ”Woe is me” is easy, especially in times when everyone is stressed.  No one will blame you for feeling down.  As a matter of fact, many will support and join you.  It’s the other option that is tough – having an optimistic outlook.   Many people will think your crazy or even put you down.  It is the road less taken.  If you do take it, you’ll find it gets you to where you want to go, faster and in even better shape.

“Instead of focusing on the circumstances that you cannot change – focus strongly and powerfully on the circumstances that you can.”  Joy Page

So how can you do this?  First, you take care of the mental health aspect of the issue(s) – you start with alleviating the stress and anxiety.  As almost everyone on the planet knows, you reduce stress by deep breathing.  Yes, this can work, and I’ll let you in on a little secret – a specific type of deep breath will almost always allow you to release the physical feeling of stress, and do it quickly.  This is called a belly breath and a 4×8 breath.

Belly Breath – -Breathe in slow into your stomach.  A lot of us breathe shallow into our chest and out.  This is a slow deep breath into your stomach.  If holding your stomach with both hands, it should feel like a balloon is inflating.  You breathe in with your and out with your mouth.  You will breathe with a ratio of 4X8.

4×8 Breath – This is the other part of proper breathing.  Your ratio for your breath should be 4 to 8, meaning you breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8.  Don’t get hung up on counting.  More simply, your exhale is twice as long as your inhale.

When you breathe a belly breath with a 4×8 ratio, you cannot do anything but relax.  This will cause your heart to slow and your blood pressure to decrease.  It will also create serotonin, I am told.  Do this breath several times for a few minutes and you will relax.

What now?  Well, now it’s time to gain focus and direction.  You’ve been thinking about what you don’t want to happen or what you are afraid of.  It’s now time to think about what you do want to happen.  Yes, these will be your goals.  If you’ve caught yourself thinking about what you don’t want, these will often be the opposite.  They don’t have to be, just as long as you start thinking about what you want to happen.  This also must be what you want to happen for yourself or your business, not what you want to happen for the world.  You cannot control that. 

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”   Zig Ziglar

What would you like to happen now, this week, this month, or this year?  Write it down.  Start looking at it often.  Ask yourself a few questions about these goals to get clarification and validation.  Ask these questions.

  1. What would happen if I do get this or these goals?

  2. What would happen if I don’t get this or these goals?

These questions will help you decide how critical it is to get them.  The ones that are most critical, put them on top.  If you have any goals that you don’t get important answers on either question, consider dropping them.

After you’ve worked through them, you will now gain greater clarity on where you want to go.  By this time, the focus and direction will have ‘toned down’ the outside noise of what is happening and allow you to continue moving forward.  And, for your goals, you can start making action plans, and executing on them.

So, let’s review.  When the external events come along and try to derail you and your success in your life, you first take a look at the emotional issues they are causing and address them.  Then, you look to find or create focus and direction in your life.  It will get you back on track.

I have simplified this a lot.  Still, following my advice here, for many, will help a lot.  If you want or need further information, please contact me and I’ll be happy to guide your further.

If you want more information on Mindset Coaching, email me at

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