Bucketful of ‘No Worries’ – Life Recipe: Managing Everyday Stress

Whilst working as a psychologist, one of my favorite things to show people was the stress bucket model. The idea is… you guessed it.. . to view yourself as a bucket, with giant taps hanging over you and one tap hanging, attached at the bottom of your bucket (something men could relate to quite well…)

We don’t need an Engineering degree to know that if the taps above the bucket produce more water than the amount the tap at the bottom releases…. the bucket will flow over.

You’ve heard expressions such as “I’ve had it up to here!” and  “It was the last straw on the camel’s back”… hence this one would relate by saying “It was the last droplet to flood the bucket”… why a bucket?…. because I can’t draw camels that well.

On a daily basis we have water pouring into our bucket in the form of stressors. This does not mean that all stressors are bad! Some commitments, relationships and responsibilities are just part of everyday life…. the idea is to make sure they don’t pile up too high.

Daily stressors:

  • Environmental Stressors

(that office chair that arches your back in a funny angle, the smog that sticks to your hair and clothes when you walk to work, the hot weather that just won’t.cool.down, ….

  • Work/Study Stressors

(the double shift you pulled last night, the exam you’re prepping for, or the annoying colleague who hums Mr Big’s ‘Wild World’ all-the-live-long-day!! (Catchy at first, not so much the 2nd week in…)

  • Family/Friends Stressors

(supporting a friend, making time to see everyone, your baby throwing up in your mouth (yes, it IS as gross as it sounds)

  • Health Stressors

(sleep deprivations, illness, even a small headache will do it)

Some days our bucket can be fuller than other days, which in itself is not an issue at all. Some people have bigger buckets than others. But it’s not how big your bucket is but how you use it (again.. something the men would relate to).

The idea of the stress bucket is to find useful tools that will allow the tap at the bottom of your bucket to release water at a steady pace, and avoid your bucket from flowing over. If your bucket does tip, once in a while, just increase the use of your stress management tools, to get it back onto a controllable level.  Each person has their own set of tools that suits their need at that moment in time, so below are only a few suggestions.

Stress Management Tools:

  •  Physical activity

(joining a gym is not the only way to stay  active…parking your car a bit further from the shops, taking a walk, doing some sit-ups at work (is advised to not to so during a staff meeting as you’ll be asked to see the company shrink), riding a bike, etc

  • Talking to someone

(having a vent about your day, resolving conflict or even just small talk about the weather have all proven to release stress)

  • Eating Healthy

(By all means, enjoy the occasional pizza or burger, but it’s a fact that a well balanced diet provided you with the right nutrients and energy to tackle these daily stressors). That tub of ice cream will certainly help eat away some of the stress, but if eaten too often, will only add to the problem. This also goes for alcohol)

  • Mindfulness

(Being ‘in the moment’ or meditating does not require you to sit cross legged, burning incense and humming like a broken clothes dryer. Draw something; lie in bed and just relax, cook or bake.

Below is a little picture and I to ask you not to judge me on my drawing skills (be grateful it’s not a camel) and limited knowledge on how to use Microsoft Paint.


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