The Five R’s of Coping With Stress

Dr Rich Blonna - Your Guide To Less Stress and Better Sex

Written By Dr. Rich

For more than 30 years, I have devoted myself, both professionally and personally, to helping people just like you stress less, have better sex, and enjoy life more.

Learn more about Dr. Rich

I am a university professor, author, and a world-renowned expert in how the mind and body work together in creating and managing stress. I’m proud to be one of the creators of Acceptance and Commitment (AC) Coaching, an exciting form of cognitive psychology that combines mindfulness, acceptance, and commitment to help people stress less and enjoy better sex and a more fulfilling life. I’m certified in Naikan and Morita, two forms of Japanese psychology that emphasize mindfulness and acceptance training respectively. I’m also a Board Certified Coach (BCC), National Certified Counselor (NCC), and Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). My eclectic approach combines the best practices from all of these disciplines. I’ve helped thousands of people from the United States, Europe, South Africa, and Asia through my books, audios, and adult training courses. My home is in Marco Island, Florida where I live with Heidi, my wife of 48 years. I love writing, tennis, running, kayaking, swimming, biking, weight training, meditation on the beach, and anything that gets me outdoors in the sun.

April 9, 2022

What Are The Five R’s of Coping?

The Five R’s of Coping With Stress is your personal multi-level defense system against stress. To really manage your stress effectively you need a program that targets and attacks all three aspects of stress. My Five R’s of Coping system does just that. Each R is a level of defense that provides multiple strategies to attack one or more of the aspects of stress.

The Five R’s: Rethink, Relax, Release, Reduce & Reorganize


Rethink focuses mostly on potential stressors and what your mind tells you about them. Some Rethink strategies focus on understanding and working with how your mind thinks about stress.

For example, your mind is always on the lookout for threatening situations. In trying to protect you from harm it will work non-stop thinking about all of the possible things that could go wrong regarding a potential stressor.

However, as you know, a lot of potentially-threatening situations could also have benefits that could enrich and fulfill you. A career change, new relationship, move to a different state, or countless other novel experiences could be potentially threatening but also very enriching either personally or professionally.


Rather than try to work against your mind and control the troubling thoughts and painful emotions these new experiences trigger, it is better to acknowledge that this is how your mind works, accept it, and shift your focus off of your thoughts and feelings.  Rethink teaches you how to do this with simple to use exercises based on cognitive psychology.

Relax and Release focus primarily on the stress response. Both work by initiating a relaxation response that cancels out your stress response.You can’t be both relaxed and stressed at the same time. Putting your body in a relaxed state shuts down the stress response.The main difference between the two is how they go about doing this.

Relax works by leading with the mind using passive relaxation strategies. Doing things like Mindfulness Meditation, Visualization, and Autogenic Training (aka self-hypnosis) slows down and relaxes your mind. These activities do not require you to exert any physical energy beyond sitting or lying down and watching a video or listening to an audio. Once your mind is relaxed, the nervous energy and muscle tension in your body dissipates.

Beautiful young lady relaxing and meditating on rock by sea



Release works by leading with the body using mild, moderate, and vigorous physical activity. This actively gets rid of the nervous energy and muscle tension associated with stress. Once your tension and nervous energy are gone your mind will also slow down and relax. Release strategies include things like Yoga and Stretching, Systematic Muscle Relaxation, and Aerobic or Anaerobic Exercise.


Reduce as a line of defense also focuses on the stress response. Sometimes it isn’t a potential stressor, or what your mind tells you about it that causes stress. Sometimes it is just the sheer volume of things going on in your life that wear you down and make you feel that you can’t cope.

As you know, you only have so much time and energy in any given day. When your demands and responsibilities exceed your ability to handle them they become threats and potential stressors. When this happens, even fun things become stressors.

reduce stress by finding the right balance



Some Reduce strategies help you find out exactly how much you can handle before feeling threatened. Others help you identify and eliminate the unnecessary demands that put you over the edge. Common Reduce strategies are Time Management, Goal Setting, and Assertiveness Training.

Reorganize works by helping you develop a hardier, more stress-resistant lifestyle. Reorganize techniques show you how to increase your level of wellness across all seven dimensions of health (physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, occupational, and environmental). This gives you the energy and resources you need to cope with stress. Sometimes just knowing a resource exists is enough to defuse the threat involved in a potential stressor.


For example, having a neighbor agree to watch your child until you get home from work can reduce work-related stress. Imagine having to attend a last minute meeting at work that otherwise would make your frantic worrying about your daughter’s safety if you didn’t have that neighbor.

Putting it All Together.

When you have a multi-level defense system against stress like the Five R’s of Coping you’ll always have at least one way to handle any kind of stressful situation. It gives you the ability to pick and choose the level of defense and specific technique that works for you at that particular time with the specific stressor that is threatening you.

For example, I love to use vigorous physical activity to Release my stress. I’ll go for a run, jump on my bike and ride or throw my kayak on top of my car and in 15 minutes be paddling in the Everglades.

These work great if I am at home and something stresses me out. What about when I’m stuck in traffic or in a boring meeting? I can’t use any of those Release strategies. If I didn’t have other lines of defense I’d be stuck.

Fortunately I can use some Rethink strategies to help me understand the threat and shift my focus off of it. I might also use a Relaxation strategy such as Diaphragmatic Breathing to manage my traffic-related stress.

For more information about my Five R’s of Coping check out my Introductory Course.

You May Also Like…

What Does Relaxation Look/Feel Like?

What Does Relaxation Look/Feel Like?

To get a sense of what it looks/feels like to be truly relaxed, watch your dog seek out a warm spot in the sun. She finds a quiet spot away from the main traffic of the house, circles it a few times, stretches her legs, rolls her head and neck, lies down and fully arches her back, takes a deep breath and exhales deeply, and then curls up or sprawls in the warm rays.

How do You Reduce Stress?

How do You Reduce Stress?

In my Five R’s of Coping Model I identify five different levels of defense against stress; Rethink, Relax, Release, Reduce, and Reorganize. Reduce works as a level of defense against stress by learning how to find your optimal level of stimulating activities and demands (what some people incorrectly call stress).

Change Your View of Stress and Coping

Change Your View of Stress and Coping

In a previous blog (What is Stress?) I described the three components of stress: (1) a potential stressor, (2) what your mind tells you (your self-talk) about it and your ability to cope with it and (3) a stress response that kicks in if you feel unable to cope with it.

When you start to view stress this way you begin to change. You no longer see stress as something that just happens to you, and is beyond your control. Stress becomes more than just “bills, traffic, the government,” or other things that exist independently of you.




My free report will show you how to relax your muscles, calm your runaway mind, and get more energy and time to live a life filled with passion and purpose.

Thank you! We've added you to the mailing lists you selected.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This