Stressed Out?

This is the first in a series focusing on our mental health and wellbeing. By Clarie Miles, Southmead resident and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. 

Christmas feels like forever-ago, New Year’s resolutions have been made and broken, somehow it’s now February already and all the pressures of the year ahead are looming large. It’s time to talk about stress.

We all feel stressed, now and then, and a little bit of stress is healthy for us – it motivates us and gives us the energy to tackle those important tasks. But when we don’t feel able to meet all the demands on us, we can start to feel overwhelmed and stressed out.

In times like this, I find the image of a stress bucket helpful.  Our stress bucket is a picture of how much stress we can carry.  Every day, stressful things happen and fill our buckets up. These can be big things, like illness, or moving house They can be bad things, like divorce, and good things, like children and holidays. Small things like sitting in traffic and the milk being left out of the fridge top up our buckets too. And some of these things we can do something about, but many of them can’t, and it seems inevitable that our buckets will fill right up and overflow.

And when our buckets overflow, that’s the moment we feel ‘too stressed’ and we can become depressed or anxious.

The great thing about stress buckets, though, is they have a tap at the bottom. And the person in charge of turning on your tap, and relieving that stress, is you. You can do it a whole multitude of ways… Having a bath with relaxing candles. Going for a walk. Meeting up for coffee with a friend. Stopping to look at the spring bulbs appearing in the verges. Finding some clothes to give to the local charity shop. 

When our stress buckets fill up, often our instinct is to stop doing all these things. “I’m so busy, and so stressed,” we think “I haven’t got time to look after myself”. But of course, when we do that, we turn off the tap at the bottom and our stress bucket fills up even faster.

So what can you do this week to turn on your tap to your stress bucket?

If you are stressed about your stress levels, why not book on to a ‘Getting the Balance Back’ course with Bristol Wellbeing Therapies at