Why do curveballs like Covid19 stress us out?

I created the diagram below to help answer this question and to:

  • explain to my stressed and anxious clients the difference between pressure and stress
  • explain the difference between ‘bad’ stress (distress) and ‘good stress’ (eustress)
  • show how our performance and productivity is impacted by distress and eustress.
  • show how our wellbeing is impacted by distress.

Ideally, we want to spend every day of our lives in the challenged zone (the area in the centre of the graph) but curve balls like COVID19 can ramp up the pressure we’re experiencing and push us into the excessive pressure, (i.e. ‘danger’) zone on the right of the graph.


We perceive pressure to be excessive when we believe we don’t have the resources and capabilities we need to handle all the pressure we’re facing.


Distress (what most of us refer to as ‘stress’) is something we all experience. Stress is short lived. Once a perceived threat has gone or been dealt with, the stress related to that threat dissipates. When we experience stress on an ongoing basis it is called ‘chronic stress.’ As the graph shows, chronic distress can lead to exhaustion, physical and mental health problems such as anxiety disorders.

Many people will experience periods of chronic stress at some point in their lives.

I was one of those people. It was a period of chronic stress that set me on the path to becoming a HypnoCoach. The experience was so awful I set out to learn all I could about stress and anxiety so that I would never have to experience chronic stress again. I now specialise in helping people to gain permanent relief from unnecessary stress and anxiety.

The first technique I teach all my clients is 7-11 breathing.

7-11 breathing

I’ve been providing stress and anxiety advice, tools and techniques for many years now via my blog and a technique I’ve written about more than once is a simple relaxation technique that works for everyone. It’s called 7-11 breathing. It works by activating the body’s natural “rest and digest” response, otherwise known as the Relaxation Response. Once you start 7-11 breathing it immediately starts to reduce your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and lower your emotional arousal.

The secret to this technique’s effectiveness is the fact that the out-breath is longer than the in-breathe and it’s our out-breath stimulates the Relaxation Response.

Practising 7/11 breathing a few times a day will lower your stress level in the long term.

Here is how you do it, and it is as easy as it sounds:

1 – breathe in for a count of 7.

2 – then breathe out for a count of 11.

Make sure that when you are breathing in, you are doing deep ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ (your diaphragm moves down and pushes your stomach out as you take in a breath like a balloon inflating) rather than shallower higher lung breathing.

If you find it’s difficult to lengthen your breaths to a count of 11, then reduce the count to breathing in for 3 and out to 5, or whatever suits you best, as long as the out-breath is longer than the in-breath.

Continue in this way for 2 -10 minutes or longer if you have time – and enjoy the calming effect it will have on your mind and body. A bonus of 7-11 breathing is that the very act of counting to 7 or 11 aloud, or inside in your head, is a distraction technique, taking your mind off your immediate worries or concerns.

Schedule a free, no obligation Discovery Consultation

If you want some help meeting your emotional needs or managing your anxiety or stress level simply schedule a free, no obligation Discovery Consultation by clicking HERE. Alternatively, you can call/text me on 021 056 8389.

Stay safe and stay well.

~ Tony

I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible enjoy lives free of unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you’d like my help, or you know someone who would benefit, call/text me today on 021 056 8389 or email tony@tycoaching.nz