The formula you need to manage stress - SmartBrief

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The formula you need to manage stress

Stress can lead to poor productivity and affect your mental health, but Paul B. Thornton offers a formula for relief.

4 min read



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Here’s a simple formula to help you.  D > CS = SR

When your demands exceed your coping skills, you have a stress reaction.

Demands include anything you need to do from simple tasks such as grocery shopping to answering more profound questions such as, what are my top two priorities for the next month. Here are three types of demands we all face to varying degrees.     

  • Family demands — taking care of our residence, immediate family, and dealing with difficult family relationships. In some cases, it includes taking care of elderly parents and close relatives. 
  • Work demands increased work load, meeting tight deadlines and dealing with a variety of challenging people. Learning and using all of the latest software tools. 
  • Personal demands — taking care of our mind and body to stay healthy. Processing all the relevant information that pertains to our career, family and social relationships. Maintaining an adequate income to cover all of our financial obligations.   

You face a unique set of demands each day. And they shift as changes in your life occur.    

Coping skills refers to the approaches you use to deal with your demands. There are several aspects of coping skills.      

  • Self-management skills includes your ability to set goals, prioritize tasks, make timely decisions, resolve conflicts, manage time as well as healthy eating and drinking.  
  • Exercise includes what you do to keep your body in shape including walking, jogging, playing sports and lifting weights.  
  • Relaxation includes the actions you take to keep your mind in shape such as yoga, meditation, listening to music, reading and watching sporting events.  
  • Support system includes the people you can go to for help, advice and guidance.  This includes trusted friends, a relative, colleague, coach and therapist.  

Effective coping skills helps you successfully deal with your demands.     

When demands increase, some people reduce their coping skills so they can spend more time working on their demands. Not a good idea. During high-demand periods, you should increase your coping skills. Spend more time meditating, exercising and going to yoga.  

Another action to avoid — some people use unhealthy coping techniques such as excessive drinking, taking drugs and over-eating. Obviously, those actions aren’t helpful and create new problems that people have to deal with.   

Stress reactions

When your demands exceed your coping skills, you have a stress reaction. These can include:  

  • Behavioral reactions such as yelling, screaming, arguing, shutting down and isolation. 
  • Physical reactions including headaches, ulcers, muscle tension, problems with sexual performance and sleeping.
  • Psychological reactions including anxiety, depression, mood swings and difficulty concentrating.

Everyone has experienced one or more of these reactions.    

Stress reactions impact your productivity, disrupt relationships and negatively impact your health. When you’re stressed, you have difficulty concentrating, processing information, making effective decisions and getting things done on time.  

Applying the formula

There are two actions you can take:

1. Reduce your demands: Determine what you can stop doing as well as what you can delegate. Put a limit on the extra projects you volunteer to do. Learn to say “no” in a nice way. Get advice from your support group on what they have done to reduce their demands.

2. Improve your coping skills: Work on improving one of your self-management skills each month. Commit to doing yoga, meditation and some form of exercise every day. Find a mentor to help you improve your coping skills.   

Try different methods and figure out what works best for you. Creating good daily habits will enable you to handle more demands from the get go.

D > CS = SR is a useful formula. It simplifies what you need to do to manage your stress. When stress reactions are minimized, you are more productive. In addition, you are more invigorated physically, mentally and emotionally.   


Paul B. Thornton is an author and speaker. His books are available at Amazon and include: 

He frequently posts his views and opinions about leadership on LinkedIn.   

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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