Are You In Tune With Your Stress Bucket?
If the stress of life feels like it might be too much, you're probably right.
Can you ever remember feeling as if you were going to have a mental breakdown? Have you ever snapped? Have you ever been so stressed that you couldn’t sleep? This happens when your stress bucket gets close to full. When this happens, any additional stressor — even a small one — can seem enormous.
When our emotional and physical stress feels like it is just too much, that’s because we have a limit to how much stress we can experience at once. The total amount of all the stress you have is something we refer to as an “allostatic load.” In other words, your allostatic load is like a bucket containing all of your stress.
Stress can come in the form of emotional stress (like relationship stress or worrying about a mean boss) or physical stress (like being dehydrated or not getting enough sleep). (Here is more information on various types of stress.)
All of your stressors have to fit inside of this one bucket, and as stress increases, the bucket becomes more full. As stress decreases, the bucket empties. On the other hand, when your stress bucket is only partially full, you feel good and seem to deal with life’s obstacles with ease.
Many of us walk around with a stress bucket that is close to overflowing. Everything seems to set us off and we rush around feeling as if there is no time to do anything. Instead of living each day to the fullest, we are just getting through it — merely surviving, instead of thriving.
The next time you feel overwhelmed, take stock of your stress bucket to see if you’re overloaded. Even though mental and physical stressors don’t seem to be the same, they feel the same and all add to your allostatic load. Learn to control the physical and emotional stressors within your control. (You can read more on the different kinds of stress and how to control them here.)