Feeling stressed? Put on your C.A.P.E.

By Mike Hepworth, Salesforce Marketing Cloud practice lead

We all deal with stress in our daily lives. Particularly when interfacing with the general public. This is especially true in times of crisis, so we must be prepared to manage stress within our new “normal.”



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So how do we do manage stress when a crisis or incident occurs? We put on our CAPE:

  • Center or ground ourselves
  • Assess the crisis or incident
  • Make a plan to respond to the crisis or incident
  • And finally, execute that plan


When faced with a crisis, our “fight or flight” response is triggered, and our first inclination will either be to react immediately or try to hide from the problem. Neither response is ideal. Instead, pause and take a breath. Then you can figure out the best way to respond.

Center or ground yourself with breathing and sensory exercises. These techniques help your mind take the focus off the immediate threat and places you back into the here and now.

Box Breathing

Box Breathing is a very effective technique for centering and refocusing—it’s so effective that even Navy SEALs use it! Box Breathing involves the following four steps.

  1. Breath in deeply for 4 seconds
  2. Hold your breath for 4 seconds
  3. Slowly exhale for 4 seconds
  4. And finally, hold your exhaled breath for 4 seconds

Repeat this process until you feel your heartbeat slowing, and your mindfulness and focus returning.

Sensory Grounding

In order to ground yourself, take your senses for a relaxing stroll. Find…

  • Five things you can see
  • Four things you can touch
  • Three things you can hear
  • Two things you can smell
  • One thing you can taste

You can do this in your mind or actually get up and find things. Paired with box breathing, this exercise can help reduce stress and help you focus on the problem at hand, instead of getting overwhelmed with feelings of panic. Try them two or three times a day because stress levels can rise without warning or due to any specific stressful incident.


What’s the situation we are dealing with here? Not all crises are equal. Your situation could run the gamut of small but embarrassing (like sending an email with a bad typo) or big and catastrophic (like a pandemic).

Ask yourself these questions to help formulate a plan:

  • Is this something we can control?
  • What’s in impact of the situation on us?
  • What are our options?


There are four types of crises, depending on its impact to your/your business and the level of control you have over it. In general, external or environmental events tend to be low control. Internal events tend to be high control. Where does your situation fall on these two axis?

Graph with Control on Y-axis and Impact on X-axis


Now that we are centered and we’ve assessed the incident, let’s plan a response. Based on the graph above, there are four types of situations:

High Control/Low Impact: Low impact makes it low priority, but you can fix this easily if you want.

High Control/High Impact: This requires immediate attention. Often difficult to fix this kind of crisis but doing so yields big results.

Low Control/High Impact: There’s not much you can do here. Monitor the situation and mitigate its impact where you can by reacting to specific incidents within the crisis you have control over as they come up. The COVID-19 pandemic fits squarely in the low control/high impact category because it’s driven by external factors and aside from practicing social distancing, you have extremely limited options for solving the problem.

Low Control/Low Impact: Don’t worry about this—it doesn’t really affect you and there’s very little you can do about it.



You’ve made your plan. Now put it into action! Be sure to measure your results so you can adjust as needed.

We can all be superheroes when we put on our CAPE!

Struggling with any of these steps in CAPE? We can help. Whether you have challenges with your martech stack, business process management, or crisis communications around COVID-19, Ciberspring is your partner. We are a hybrid digital and creative agency specializing in digital-first solutions for your business challenges.

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