What is a stress bucket and how do you make sure it doesn’t overflow?

We’re all a little more aware of our mental health these days, and many of us have developed various coping strategies to ensure we feel strong.

However, amid the everyday hustle and bustle of our work and home lives, it can be easy to let those stress levels creep upward, no matter how well they’re managed, potentially leading to poor mental health.

It can be hard to identify exactly when the shift begins and you start to feel overwhelmed by stress. In this blog, I’ll explore a simple but very effective idea that can help regulate anxiety, relieve stress and reduce the risk of mental illness.

It’s called the stress bucket.

What is the stress bucket concept?

Originally developed in 2002 by Professor Alison Brabban and Dr Douglas Turkington, the idea behind the stress bucket model is that it helps people better understand their anxiety levels.

The stress bucket enables them to assess how well they’re coping and realise how that understanding can impact on their mental health. How does it work? Here’s some context.

Imagine you have a bucket with all your anxiety and stress filling it. At the bottom, there’s a tap, and the stress bucket contains four levels: relaxed; coping well; stressed or anxious; and overflowing or overwhelmed.

If it’s a wide and deep stress bucket, then the chances are you’re less likely to be anxious, whereas a smaller, shallower bucket suggests you’re more vulnerable to stress.

As the bucket fills up, our ability to cope is determined by how quickly the stress runs out of the tap at the bottom of the bucket. If stress goes beyond the bucket’s capacity and is flowing over the sides, that’s when issues can arise.

What causes anxiety and stress?

We all know that in some situations, a little bit of stress can actually be a good thing. The nervous feeling you have before an exam or job interview, for example, can help you focus and concentrate.

However, there’s a big difference between exam jitters that are here today and gone tomorrow, and long-term, debilitating anxiety.

The latter can become a more serious issue and can have a knock-on effect on both people’s physical health and their mental wellbeing.

Everyone’s stressors are different, but they can include everything from form filling, childhood events and financial worries, to difficulties with work colleagues.

No matter the issue, they can seriously hinder our ability to function and develop.

The link between sleep and stress

Under normal circumstances, people’s sleep patterns should include around 20% Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and about 80% slow wave sleep. Both are important for quality sleep.

The second, longer period helps restore our bodies but the shorter REM stage is crucial to restore our minds and empty our stress bucket. 

If our brains have too many details to process in that short 20% timeframe, they can’t complete the emptying process. A person managing lots of stress while awake can continue to be affected when trying to sleep, reducing their levels of quality rest.

Thus begins another negative cycle as their stress bucket is already filling up before they’ve started a new day, where potentially more stress awaits.

Without getting adequate support to help manage stress, unfortunately the risk of stress-induced mental illness increases.

What happens when your stress bucket model overflows?

Chronic anxiety or stress can weigh heavily on many people. Even their best coping mechanism can stutter in the face of too much stress and before long, the tap is overwhelmed and the bucket overflows.

Excess stress can lead to irritability and emotional outbursts either in the workplace or at home.

Some people under stress withdraw from loved ones, or experience depression as they try to cope by internalising their anxiety.

An inability to manage a stress bucket can have a negative effect on people’s mental health and become a very serious problem.

But there are support and concrete solutions out there that can help bring down the stress levels in your bucket and aid relaxation. 

Stress management to boost your mental health

One of the most helpful ways to prevent your stress bucket from overflowing is to talk to another person about your feelings. That could be family, friends or a professional like me.

It’s easy to underestimate the relief that comes with getting positive advice about how to deal with different types of stress, but make no mistake: being able to tap into that support is huge.

I can give you the tools and resources to help you manage your anxiety in a positive way. I can arm you with new ways of thinking to make your life less stressful, enabling you to fill your bucket without it overflowing.

Using hypnotherapy to reduce your stress bucket levels

From my Cambridge-based practice, I help people create positive change in their lives through the use of services including Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.

It combines modern psychotherapy methods with hypnosis and, as the name suggests, focuses on solutions rather than problems to manage rapid and significant positive change in your life.

If your stress bucket model is overflowing because your coping strategies aren’t working, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy could provide the support you need.

As well as helping relieve stress and improve your wellbeing, it will also help with stress management in all aspects of your life. Being able to manage your anxieties will no longer be the hope of being able to empty your bucket: it will be a reality.

Contact me to book a free initial consultation

 Let me help you prevent your stress bucket from overflowing, so you can live the life you want.

Call me on 07359 188625 or email: sevarin@lifeflowhypnotherapy.co.uk to book a free initial consultation, or use this contact form and I’ll reply to you as soon as possible.

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