Coaching For Calm Emotions
and Stress Relief

A few days ago I posted that I'm taking a break from my personal Facebook account. And it has been a breath of fresh air. Due to recent events, my feed had gone toxic with irrational posts, wild imaginings and unpleasant diatribes. Have you experienced this too? Many of my friends had temporarily stopped posting in order to calm emotions. One of my closest-held values is peace so I decided to take a break as well. 

Understanding the media, if one can.

So let's take a time out to assess what's really happening in our media-driven world. I believe that understanding this will take you half way to the calm emotions you desire. The rest depends on applying strategies you can learn.

I have had the unique opportunity to work as a journalist, editor and publisher as well as acquire a B.A. in political science from Ohio State University. So I am writing this to give you the benefit of my experience.

Please stay with me for some insight about media, before I get to the mental health portion of this article. You'll see how this all works together.

As you know, we are going through some difficult times in the US ... but this will pass. If you have heard all the craziness on social media not to mention the news media fanning the flames, rest assured the sky is not falling and the world is not coming to an end. 

As a former journalist, mentored by an old school Washington Press Corps reporter, I can assure you today’s “news” bears little resemblance to the news of just a few decades ago. In the past all journalists were held accountable to give factual reports with provable details. Sadly, this seems no longer to be the case. 

What we hear today is primarily commentary and opinion, yet they still call it "news".

The stories often have little or no basis in fact and have instead been fabricated to manipulate public opinion in order to serve an undisclosed agenda. 

Some now refer to this as "fake news" and there is more of it than any unsuspecting consumer even knows. (I've already started hearing "fake poll results" and more can be expected in this presidential election year.)

For a variety of reasons, the priorities of the news media have changed. Providing the truth and holding our elected officials accountable is not nearly as important as manipulating public opinion. And we really have to watch out for this as we seek out the most reliable sources.

How does the news desk select their stories? Understanding how this works, will help you see how we have arrived where we are right now.  Here are some questions the news director (or editor) typically contemplates:

  • What stories will increase my viewership (or readership) and ratings?
  • What wording, statistics or images will manufacture the most urgency or alarm?
  • What spin will put my allies in favorable light and while creating dissent toward my philosophical opponents?

Advertising dollars always follow the largest audiences so those who create the most perceived chaos win ratings wars.

You and I then become the victims as our stress levels escalate, fears multiply and our health suffers. Not to mention that our relationships become splintered. This is not God's plan for us.

While you are here, pick up my FREE Chaos and Fear Survival Guide if you haven't already.

If you or someone you know is living in a state of fear and alarm, may I suggest that your thoughts, emotions and opinions are likely being manipulated by media who are driving agendas. 

Let's add one more layer to this. Those with agendas also know the more anxiety and stress we experience, the less rationally we will be able to think. Some in the media don't care and for others, this is a goal.

I say it’s time to limit media influence.

Hopefully sooner rather than later, the crises will be dealt with.  For most of us, it's not our individual responsibility to solve these problems. Instead we need to be about the business that God has laid before us. So let's reframe.

Values and Our Thought Process

Our happiness does not depend on our circumstances. Truly it doesn’t. Our state of mind depends on what we decide to think about and the meaning we give to the events that take place in our lives. 

That begins with identifying our true north, or our most closely held values. If you have not identified your primary values, now is a great time to do this exercise. Unless you know what you value most, your emotions and decisions will be blown to and fro depending only on the force and direction of the wind at the moment. So identify what is most precious to you regardless of circumstances.

Here at the academy, we value each and every life from conception to one’s final breath. We value every man, woman and child. Period. Diversity has been a hallmark of this academy since its very beginning. Every person is a child of God and is precious in His sight. It is for this reason we aim to improve the lives of everyone we can reach. We want you and those you help to live in the abundance of God’s promises.

If Satan can manage to destroy our state of mind, he can cripple our progress.

I encourage you to identify what you hold most dear because those beliefs will steer your ship. Then meditate on your values and what they mean to you today. You will see that your life will become much more balanced as it begins to make more sense.

Your values create a kind of a template for your life, clearing the way for well-thought-out decisions. Soon you’ll begin to see the calming benefit of aligning your actions to your beliefs. Stress will begin to gradually subside.

As a result you’ll experience fewer emotional peaks and valleys. Remember, we serve a God of order. As you clarify your values and make decisions accordingly, there will be less chaos and confusion.  (You’ll find my proprietary values exercise in the Christian Professional Life Coach certification course.)

It's important to understand that our emotions don’t create our thoughts. Rather, our thoughts create our emotions. Consider this: Until you think about something and assign a meaning to it, you don’t feel an emotion related to it. And the meaning you assign to it, depends on the values you hold most dear. It's then the emotion fuels our action or behavior. 

Situational Fear vs Mental Fear

If you feel out of control of circumstances in your life, you may experience fear without anything actually happening.  That is mental fear and often it can fool us into believing it holds some power when it actually doesn’t. Mental fear is created by what we think about. It’s not fear of something real so we can’t do anything about it.

On the other hand, if we sense the car traveling next to us begin to veer into our lane, we feel an immediate situational fear and swerve to get out of the way. Something is happening and we must act to avoid a negative consequence.

So take a look at those things in life that are causing you or the person you coach anxiety. Are they real or only repetitive, fearful thoughts?  Understanding a fear is not real can be very helpful in regaining calm emotions.

For a deep dive into stress relief, check out the Stress Relief Coach training and certification program.

God’s word is clear about where we should place our thoughts.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about whatever is right, whatever is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

Tips to Calm Emotions

For most us, following this directive will take some time. We need to stop our thought train and change directions. Here are some steps we can take:

1 – Make the social media “unfollow” button your friend.
Let go any person, organization or group that frustrates you, annoys you, makes you upset, brings you toxic thoughts, or doesn’t benefit you in some way. You aren’t being rude by doing this. Rather you are taking steps toward a healthier thought life. And that’s your right to do so.

2 – Unfriend negative people and complainers.
It’s time to remove those people with continual streams of poor me or angry posts day after day. It’s your life. You can love and support them, but you don’t have to continually be drawn into their negative feed. That type of thought pattern is contagious and before you know it, you are making similar comments.  If someone doesn’t add to your life, uplift or motivate you, or care about you is not someone you need to align your online life with. And, that goes for real life ties as well.

Peace is not easily won. God knew this would be the case. His word tells us to seek peace and pursue it … that means go after it, chase it, focus on it, and stay the course. It’s not always easy but it is attainable.

“They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.”
1 Peter 3:11 (NIV)

Who then should we connect with? God tells us we should be evenly yoked.  What does that mean? We should be of the same faith worldview, like principles and values as well as similar temperaments. The Holy Spirit will give you a sense about this. Trust that feeling. If thinking about someone potentially visiting or spending time with you, makes your stomach feel uneasy, maybe it’s not such a good plan.

3 – Limit your exposure to all types of media.
If you feel you must know certain things, find a trusted friend or family member who can give you the details you need without disturbing your peace. We need to be about kingdom business and Satan enjoys little more than to discourage us and delay our progress. If Satan can manage to destroy our state of mind, he can cripple our progress.

But the good news is that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. (from 1 John 4:4)  As long as we focus on God and His promises, we will be more peaceful and focused on the work we are here to do.

Jesus promised us in John 16:33 (ESV) ...
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Every morning, decide what you will think about as you get dressed. In fact, it’s helpful to make this a habit. If you feel media or some aspect of current events begin to pull you off track, move your focus to …

Philippians 4:8, that says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS AND PRAYERS:  If you have any questions or comments about the topics addressed in this article, please post them in the designated comments area below. I also welcome you to post a prayer for our country. Let's remain united in our prayers for healing.

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