Mikel was one of Chelsea's stellar performers at the tailend of last season as the team overcame a nightmare start to claim a FA Cup and Champions League double.
That outstanding spell was preceded by a period where he dropped out of the team to injury, and then lost his first team place to youngster Oriol Romeu.
Mikel admits to KickOffNigeria.com in Philadelphia after playing the MLS All Stars that those were dark times.
“It was a bad period for me,” Mikel says. “Nothing has changed much on the football side. I'm still doing what I'm doing.
“But I'm enjoying the game more, relaxing more while I do what I'm doing. When you do that, everything starts falling into place.”
Mikel concedes though, that with Chelsea signing so many new midfielders, things are going to get much harder.
“Everyone will need to work hard. I don't think anyone knows if they're going to start or not. It's going to be really hard.”
It is a sentiment shared by teammate Frank Lampard.
“Every year players come in and it gets harder every year. One summer we got about four or five midfielders in and I wondered if I'd be in the team, but I ended up playing 60 games. It's about reacting positively. It’s great to see.
“As a Chelsea player and a Chelsea fan, I've had a great career and I wouldn't want to see the club stand still. We're getting in some quality young midfielders and that's great to see.”