The Stress Bucket.
I think about stress like filling up a bucket with vinegar. Sometimes we fill it all the way to the top, then someone sprinkles a little bit of bicarb on the top, and it explodes everywhere (that’s when you know the stress bucket is too full!). When I’m reaching that point, I find it helpful to assess what is filling my stress bucket and see what I can take back out. I think this might be powerful for you too.
Some things that might be filling your stress bucket might be having too many things on. Maybe you’re doing things you don’t like, or perhaps you’re doing all the amazing things you love, but there are simply too many of them, and you can’t fit them all in.
One of the first things you can do is take a step back and have a look to see if we can take something out, prioritise the things we need to do or that will bring the most joy, or putting something different in the mix that will change the stress balance.
It doesn’t just have to be mental stress either. It might be that you’re doing too much exercise or too much high-intensity exercise and not enough balance: too much fast, not enough slow.
Maybe you aren't eating enough foods that nourish you, or you're overindulging at too many Christmas parties and not balancing it with healthy time. Are you not sleeping enough? Do you have food intolerance? Do you have a cold, or are you fighting off an illness? Are you talking to yourself in an unkind way? These are all things that can add to that stress load.
What can we do that can take things out of your stress bucket and help you feel better? One of them, mentioned above, is prioritising your activities and not doing too much.
Another option is when your body is under physical stress you might need to swap out a high-intensity exercise for a gentle movement instead.
Alternatively, you can shift focus towards nourishing yourself when life is busy so you don’t fall in a heap - like making sure you have a good breakfast, or reducing the amount of caffeine you’re using to supplement your energy levels and prioritising resting instead. Life looks so much better when you’ve had a good night's sleep, let's face it, life is so wonky when you’re not sleeping well.
Getting some good sleep habits to support the best sleep you can have starts with simple activities, such as having a nice warm shower, doing some slow breathing, and reading a book. Things that slow our mind, slow our nervous system and slow our breathing help us to get a better night's sleep.
So, have a think about what’s filling your stress bucket and think about ways you can change that balance. It starts with awareness.