No-Pills Anxiety Buster

By Dr. David H. Rosmarin

Everyone experiences stress at times and knows what it feels like (muscle tension, irritability, increased breathing rate), yet many people have difficulty defining what it is. Although algebra can be stressful, one of the best definitions of stress can be put into a simple formula: Stress = Demands > Resources

In other words, stress occurs when one’s demands are greater than one’s resources. You likely feel stressed when you are running late for a meeting, have too much paperwork to get through in not enough time, or don’t have enough money in the bank to pay your bills. This being the case, stress reduction is actually very simple in theory. There are only two ways to solve the equation. To reduce stress one must either increase resources or lower demands.

Here are three strategies to facilitate this in your life:

Delegate. Take some of the work off your plate (reduce your demands). Not everything may turn out as perfectly as you’d like, but with your stress level lower you’ll be more productive.

Exercise. Physical activity is great for building strength and helps us to think through issues and identify solutions. It’s a no-brainer way to build your resources.

Sleep. Ironically, sleep is more (not less) necessary when you’re stressed. A bedtime is key to ensuring that we have the resources to meet the demands in our lives.

Now that we’re in the midst of summer and demands may be a bit lower, we have a good opportunity to practice these strategies. Doing so will help us to be prepared for the fall and beyond. v

David H. Rosmarin, Ph.D., is an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Anxiety in Manhattan, a clinical-research facility with a focus on the Jewish community. He can be reached at


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