If you’re not familiar with the term ‘stress bucket’, it’s a metaphorical bucket that fills up with different types of stresses that you carry around with you and was developed by Dr Douglas Turkington and Professor Alison Brabban in 2002. By identifying what our stressors are, we can create coping strategies and ways to empty the bucket.
There are many things in life that can create stress such as work, financial pressures, health concerns or relationship issues. Each person will have their own individual types of stress and there are different symptoms that can arise, including:
- Feeling of overwhelm
- Poor sleep
- Change in diet
- Lack of concentration
- Heart palpitations
- Stomach problems
- Poor memory
Ways we can empty our stress bucketAs more stress enters our lives, the bucket keeps on filling up, so we need to put strategies into place to reduce our stress levels.
Firstly, we need to identify our sources of stress. Make a list of everything that is causing you worry. This may seem difficult at first because we often push our troubles to the back of our mind, but it’s important to confront our fears so we can spot the triggers.
Think of ways in which you can reduce your stress. Imagine each coping strategy is a hole in your bucket and as you practice them, the levels in the bucket reduce. Some great exercises include:
- Breathing exercises, particularly the box breathing method. As documented by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, studies show that “diaphragmatic breathing is an effective relaxation technique in complementary and alternative medicine, with beneficial effects on physical and mental health”.
- Create healthy sleep patterns by going to bed and waking up at a reasonable time. By keeping the times consistent, our bodies are more likely to adapt to the routine.
- By eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly our bodies are in a much better condition to enable us to deal with stress.
- Connect with close friends and family or a healthcare professional and talk about how you’re feeling. Just by opening up and speaking about our problems we can release some of the stress.
- Enjoy some ‘me time’ so you can properly switch off from work and other sources of stress. Whether it’s a trip to the cinema, a long walk in the countryside or a hot bath listening to your favourite music, these activities that make you feel good will release endorphins into your brain and help you cope with stress.
- Practise gratitude daily as this will train your brain to think more positively and be more mentally prepared to tackle the things that make you feel stressed.
Once you put your coping strategies into action, you’ll start to feel more equipped to deal with your sources of stress. For example, if your workload is causing you concern, don’t be afraid to speak with your manager to see if there is any way that they can help. Alternatively, if you have money worries, consider asking for a pay rise, apply for a higher paid job or find ways to cut back on your spending.