The stress bucket
We all have stresses in our lives. Stress is pretty much unavoidable. It’s part of being human. In fact, not all stress is bad and some positive stresses, such as those that motivate or excite us, can actually be beneficial. And most of us have a level of stress that we can cope with, without too much trouble.
Imagine, though, if you will, that we each have a bucket where our stress, particularly the negative variety, collects. The size and condition of the bucket may differ from person to person, but we all have one and some are bigger or sturdier than others. We all have a level of accumulated stress that we can comfortably fit in our own personal stress bucket; a level that we’re able to manage. And, importantly, we all have a level that becomes too heavy and difficult to carry.
As the stress bucket fills, if we can’t empty it, it may begin to leak or overflow. When this happens, the stress can become seriously damaging to our health and wellbeing and can also affect those around us.
So we all need ways to be able to at least partially empty our stress bucket from time to time, to keep it at a sensible, manageable level. For some that might involve rest, sleep, exercise, meditation, gardening, watching TV, juggling or any number of pastimes or techniques to help us relax and de-stress.
Crises, incidents, disasters, whatever we choose to call them, tend to fill up our stress buckets somewhat quicker than ‘normal’ life, with fewer opportunities to empty them properly. And an overly full bucket in this situation can have a significant impact on our decision-making and a negative effect on our fellow incident responders, aside from those previously mentioned personal health and wellbeing impacts.
It’s important to keep an eye on our stress bucket at the best of times. It’s doubly important that we give proper consideration to managing stress in our crisis or incident management planning and ensure that those affected are, as far as possible, given sufficient opportunities to at least partially empty their buckets.
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