With World Mental Health Day just 2 weeks away (make a note of Monday 10 October in your diaries), we’re thinking about ways to combat stress and make our mental health that bit more manageable.
Have you heard of the Stress Container? We regularly refer to this in our mental health at work workshops and think it’s a really tangible tool for ‘knowing’ your stress and identifying overwhelm before it strikes.
Imagine you have a bucket (a ‘container’) inside your body which collects all of your stress. The size of the container reflects how vulnerable you are to stress. Your genetics, life experiences and environment all impact how large or small your container is.
Stresses around work, home life, illness or finances all ‘add’ stress, filling up the container.
Once your container becomes full or overflowing, then this is when problems occur. How this manifests depends on your personal ’stress signature’ – such as irritability and snappiness, fatigue, over-eating or drinking.
Learning effective ways of coping with stress is a way of stopping the container from overflowing. Think of this as ‘turning on the taps’ or releasing the valve of the container – things like talking through problems with someone, getting a good night’s sleep, taking a walk in nature. Beware of unhelpful coping mechanisms, which might actually make things worse (switching off or clogging up the tap!) such as drinking too much alcohol or bottling your feelings up.
Now that your understand how the Stress Container workshops, take a moment to reflect on the sorts of ‘taps’ or positive coping strategies you might already have in your skillset. It can be helpful to think back to a time when you found something stressful, and reflect on how you coped with this. Having an early night, staying off social media and practicing some deep belly breathing are amongst some of our go-to tools for stressful times.