How to Reduce Stress: The Bucket Analogy

Coach Courtney wrote a comprehensive article ( on everything you need to know about stress.  Today we’re going to focus on how to conceptualize your stress levels.


The easiest way to conceptualize your body’s limit is through the bucket analogy:


Imagine you have a bucket, which represents you. Water, representing each stress event, is poured into the bucket. Most buckets have room to hold some water but if the water keeps being poured in, the bucket will overflow.

This is our breaking point, and as the water level inches towards the top, we begin to experience symptoms of chronic stress. Luckily, our bucket has a tap at the bottom which represents coping techniques and the things you might do to mitigate the effects of demands and stressors. The more readily we can open the tap, the easier it is to keep the water at optimal level.

Next, we need to identify what is filling the bucket. If you are going to take away one point from this entire post, it should be this; Stress isn’t just limited to daily demands like taking on a huge workload, deadlines, relationships, money, etc. Stress exists in various forms and our bodies are constantly bombarded with things that trigger a stress response, adding to our bucket drop by drop.


Finding the Balance


Just because you aren’t on the verge of a mental breakdown does not mean that you are not stressed out. If you’ve been living in high stress for a while, you may even feel like you are handling it well or that you aren’t that stressed at all. Keep in mind that if you get to the point of feeling overwhelmed, your bucket is already overflowing.

The key here is learning balance and flexibility in your lifestyle to keep stress at an optimal level. If you take on more stress in one area (like a new project at work), you should anticipate reducing it somewhere else (drop the intensity of your workouts). You just have to recognize when water is pouring in and have an arsenal of ways to let it out.


Written by Coach Courtney

Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels


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