I reflect quite a bit on my work in the mental health and addictions field across many settings. I find it crazy that a lot of what I studied and learnt in my University days - in relation to the nature of the human experience, was misplaced.

It’s not easy to say that and although I regularly draw on my previous experiences, during which I studied lots and achieved a Masters’ Degree also, innocently I was being taught something that was the opposite way round to how things really work. That’s no judgment on anybody’s part, it’s just what has innocently happened for generations upon generations.

Diligent, caring, passionate, wanting-to-make-a-difference kind of people like me have then gone into the workplace seeking to help people to overcome their mental health problems.

Mental health services are in disarray - being reconfigured and then reverting back to what they originally were and so on, with the aim of being more effective. It won’t change until we realise we’re looking in the wrong direction as to how we support people.

Which leads me to the ‘Misplaced Stress Bucket’. If the Stress Bucket analogy hasn’t been explained to you in the past - the bucket is essentially a persons’ ability to handle stress.

In the context of Stress, I’d like to invite you to please take a moment and consider -
• What bucket do you have at the moment?
Take a minute
• How big is the bucket?
Take a minute
• What colour is it?
Take a minute
• What is the shape of your bucket?
Take a minute
• If we considered water to be the level of ‘Stress’, how much water does there seem to be in your bucket at the moment/or generally speaking? Is it brimming constantly, or fluctuating up and down?
Take a minute
• What fills your Stress bucket with water?
Relationship difficulties, finances, your job, not being able to support your family, the idea of moving house, sexual performance, the loss of someone close to you, exams, children being unwell.
Take a minute
• Now, imagine that you have some holes or water taps in your bucket – these holes or taps are the typical ways (or coping mechanisms) you might use to empty the bucket or relieve the stress.
Some ways that you may have identified with might be to use mind strategies; increase your sleep; exercise more often; talk to someone; to gamble; stay in bed for most of the day, avoid situations or use substances.
Take a minute

It’s good to take stock from time-to-time and get a picture of the Stress Bucket that we carry around with us moment-to-moment, day-by-day.

In that short exercise, I purposely mentioned what typically might be seen as ‘helpful’ or ‘unhelpful’ ‘water taps’ that we use to relieve those stress levels.

Of course, it may well be that staying in bed or using substances are not the most productive long term solutions to managing stress, however, there is no judgement here. It is a good place to put into perspective our behaviours and recognise, that whatever we ARE doing, it is just our psychology wanting to return to its natural happy, stress-free state.

By hook or by crook, that is all what’s happening.
If we consider the question ‘What fills the bucket up with Stress?’ Here we’re going to where it all starts and we might be able to see some of our misunderstandings, or rather our Misplaced Stress Bucket.
We’re innocently led to believe by the outside world that it is external factors impacting our stress – a high pressured job, arguments with our partner, having no money, exams, death of a spouse or someone shouting abuse at us.

What we know though, with our grounding in the Three Principles – Mind, Consciousness and Thought, is that it is not the Outside factors causing the Stress, it is coming from within, Inside Out – all from our thinking. There is no exception to this.
If we are able to apply this to just one current Stress area in our lives, we have the opportunity to apply it to all of them.

Imagine our Bucket full of water, absolutely brimming with stress, and we use some taps or holes to drain the bucket such as exercise, substances, avoiding situations – whatever it is, because we are looking in the direction of the Outside factors causing our Stress, it is most likely that the stress will start to brim again at some point so our ‘drainage system’ being just a temporary measure or relief.

The outside world and perceived stressful situations will always be there, albeit possibly with variance at some level, however, the game-changer is that our Thinking about the situations can really change our life and help us to feel bulletproof.

From what I’ve seen on various mental health and psychology sites, the Stress Bucket is described as not being able to change size and that we can only reduce the level of stress coming in.

My work, however, as a Life Coach - with my understanding of the Three Principles, offers a much more positive, empowering and optimistic outlook. I work with people to identify the perceived Stressful situations and through correctly guided conversations, my clients realise how the stress that we are creating, may actually be holding us back. We realise that we’re not brimming with stress after all and we don’t need as many temporary relievers to drain the stress.

With that in mind, our ‘Stress Bucket’ can become bigger and bigger and with it our capacity, our resilience and our tolerance for many more kinds of situations. Our stress will not hold us back as it may have once did, such as leading to avoiding situations, turning down those job promotions or not pursuing those relationships.

Our perspectives will change with the elevation of our consciousness and understanding of our experiences. Yes, like any other person in this world, we might still get lost in our stressful thinking – I am no different, however, we will get back on track quicker with our understanding – back to our normal happy state.

Stress has typically been seen as something we need to avoid, and I’m sure we’re all aware that accumulated stress over the longer term is not good for our health. But how can we avoid stress? Maybe we’re wanting to achieve something that can’t be achieved - it’s unrealistic perhaps?

The reality is we’re very likely to encounter Stress at some point in our lives and if we think that it is something we must avoid, this can certainly create that extra level of stress in itself when we experience it. Therefore, if we are feeling ‘stressy’, let’s say, we could get stressed about feeling stressed.

As long as we know the truth and understand what is creating our stress, we are in a far, far stronger life position to flourish, to aspire, inspire and continue to grow.

This article has explored the innocent misguidance of university education and mental health services in a sensitive way in terms of how we have traditionally and continue to support people with mental health challenges.

Using the Stress Bucket as our focus point, we’ve explored how looking at Outside factors as reasons for our stress can lead us to adopting temporary, albeit well-intentioned, water taps with some explanation that our Stress Bucket will inevitably fill up again with similar issues.

However, the infinite hope and scope that can arise from looking within ourselves has been explained as a way to understanding our Stress, thus giving us more capacity and resilience to do more – with our bigger Stress Bucket in hand!

Author's Bio: 

Dave helps to change lives through a conversation that guides people back towards their innate health and wellbeing.

With a background in mental health, addictions, business and sport, his time is being dedicated to educating people through podcasts, his Bulletproof Yourself products, 1:1 work with clients; small groups, as well as articles.

The focus of the work is to help people feel bulletproof against any area of challenge in their lives.