One way that you can start to identify your current stressors is by doing the stress bucket activity.
I often like to conceptualise our wellbeing as a bucket.
- We all have a level of stress that we can tolerate healthily, and this is determined through our genetics, our general attitude towards life and how stress management has been modelled to us by our caregivers.
- The everyday stressors in our life can be considered as glasses of water pouring into our bucket. Over time, the water level in our bucket will increase.
- In order to avoid the water from overflowing, we need to find ways to poke holes into our bucket...this can be achieved by identifying and implementing problem solving, coping strategies and regular self care.
Stressors can be categorised into three domains:
- Interpersonal (difficulties or stress that you experience in your relationships with other people such as a parent, teacher or boss)
- Intrapersonal (difficulties or stress that is a result of thoughts or feelings within you, as well as any physical health issues)
- Environmental (difficulties or stress that is a result of your external world, including the school or work environment, the temperature in your classroom, the lighting, and things happening in the wider world such as natural disasters)
Once we have determined what our current stressors are, it is important to identify those stressors that you have some control over, and those that you have absolutely no control over. That way, we can then focus on problem solving ways of relieving the stress of situations that you may be able to change, even slightly.
Two ways we can learn to relieve stress are:
- Problem focused coping strategies: these refer to strategies that help change the source of the stress.
- Can you change something about the situation?
- If you had more skills or resources, would you feel less stressed about this situation?
- Emotion focused coping strategies: these refer to strategies that help alleviate the negative thoughts and feelings associated with the stress
For example: Regularly practicing relaxation or deep breathing, exercise, starting a journal, listening to music.
Alyce Galea is a psychologist at Hopscotch & Harmony who works with adolescents and young adults across a wide range of settings, including schools and community mental health services (Headspace). She is particularly interested in supporting young people experiencing mood and anxiety disorders, low self-esteem and interpersonal difficulties; and has a particular interest in working with young women exhibiting traits of Borderline Personality Disorder.