TC Psychology

Dealing with Stress - The Stress Bucket

Published on 19 September 2021

Have you ever heard of the ‘stress bucket’? If not, it can be a helpful way of thinking about the amount of stress we are under, and how things can become overwhelming if we are not finding ways of reducing it. 

The idea is that we all have our own stress bucket that we carry around with us, and that it gets filled up further and further by different stressors. These might be little stressors like forgetting your keys, sitting in traffic on the way to work or bigger stressors like a relationship breakdown or financial worries. Some of the stressors might be sudden such as having an argument with someone, or gradual like having young children and not getting much sleep. Either way, these stressors add to the bucket and it gradually gets fuller. 

If we have a stress bucket that gets fuller and fuller without any way to relieve or reduce some of the stress, it will eventually overflow of course. You might have experienced this and had feelings of overwhelm and feeling like you are struggling to cope. 

What many people are missing is the tap on the side of the bucket that allows for some of the stress to reduce, preventing it from overflowing. It is inevitable that we will always have some stressors in our lives, but if we can become skilled at finding ways to relieve that stress, we can manage much better.

The kinds of things that might help to relieve some of the stress might be things that you find relaxing, or ways of getting help with some of the stressors in your bucket. It might be that scheduling in some time each day for yourself is helpful or asking someone to help you with a problem can reduce the stress. There is also evidence to indicate that going for a walk in nature can be very helpful in reducing stress.  Some other ideas include talking to a friend about your stress, and saying no to things that you do not want to do. We all have different ways of reducing our stress, and it’s important to find a few ways that you find helpful for you. 

Given the busy lives we lead, it is no surprise that many of us are struggling with stress. However, keeping the stress bucket in mind, noticing how full it might be, and ensuring that you are taking action to make sure the stress if being relieved can make a lot of difference in how well we feel we are coping. 

Dr Theresa Comer, Clinical Psychologist

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