The Stress Bucket – we all have one of these in our brains. Well, not an actual bucket (it’s a metaphor for the part that accumulates and stores our negative thoughts and experiences). Our children might think of it as a ‘worry’ bucket or for those of us who struggle to slow down – a ‘busy’ bucket. Or a mix of all three!
Now, a little bit of stress is actually good for us and you may have heard this referred to as ‘challenge stress.’ It may be due to a particular situation, like a performance, playing a competitive football match, important upcoming events such as an exam or presentation.
If our stress bucket is relatively empty (relaxed, coping well in general, feeling in good spirits) then this challenge stress can:
- Enhance Motivation – it can give us the impetus to take action, do what we need to do in order to rise to that challenge and get the job done well.
- Build Resilience – it helps us to build skills and confidence as we overcome our challenges and feel that sense of achievement.
- Build Connections – when we face challenges it gives us an understanding of the challenges of others and this can help us build connections and relationships with others.
- Adrenaline – a little bit of this can actually help us focus, concentrate on what’s important and give us more energy when we need it.
However, when our bucket is full, stress can lead to feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. The more in the bucket, the more our brain encourages us to feel anxious, angry, stressed and/or quite miserable.
Things that fill our bucket can be:
- Friendship problems
- Family relationship stress
- Moving house or school
- Dealing with change
- Lack of sleep (and of course stress can be a big factor in our sleep)
- Feeling isolated
- Poor diet
- Poor health or health worries
- General anxiety
- Financial worries
If you have been reading The Youth Fairy Blogs for some time you won’t be surprised to know that one of the main ways we work with our clients is by helping them to empty their stress bucket, re-focus them on how they would like their lives to be and identifying the changes and action they need to take to make that happen.
By reducing the amount of negative thinking, worries and overwhelm they are feeling, children are able to start making better assessments of their life situations and cope much more calmly and confidently with their challenges.
A great way to help empty the stress bucket is to increase the production of that wonderful neurotransmitter – serotonin (happiness chemical). Our brain produces lots of this (and other feel good endorphins) the more we engage in:
- Positive activities/action
- Positive Interactions with others
- Positive thoughts
When we do these our brains rewards us with a little bit of feel good – so the more time we spend focusing on these the more we will create.
Now, if your child is struggling and needs a little Fairy magic to support them with their well-being and mental health you are more than welcome to contact us to book a consultation however there are things that they (and you) can do to support their well-being before it necessarily gets to this point.
Here are top tips from us today #NationalStressAwarenessDay to help:
- Get enough sleep – this one can be difficult, especially for teens who are having to get up for school (when their body clocks are changing and they are neurologically programmed to go to bed later and sleep later).But sleep (specifically when we dream) is an important part of emptying the stress bucket. At night we re-run those negative events and experiences in the bucket. So less sleep = less bucket emptying = more stress and feelings of anxiety, anger or low mood.
- Take a break and relax – our brain needs ‘downtime’ and neuroscientists have shown that when we daydream or do something that requires very little thought our brain goes into what’s know as ‘inner-rehearsal mode.’ You won’t be aware of this because it’s not a ‘conscious’ thought process but when you ‘switch off’ the subconscious part of your mind goes into overdrive and starts working on solutions to some of the problems you need to solve. Ever found it hard to remember a word, then when you are relaxing later it pops into your mind? That! This has a similar affect to bucket emptying and is a problem solving state of mind.
- Engage with people who make you feel good – whether we are social butterflies or quite comfortable in our own company, we need some form of human interaction – it’s not a choice, its a necessity for our well-being. When we interact (positively) with others – you know what’s coming next – your brain rewards you with serotonin! So, make that call, meet that friend, play that family board game or snuggle up on the sofa and watch that film.
- Exercise – go for a walk, a run, dance like no-ones watching! Anything that elevates the heart rate is FAB for encouraging the production of those feel good endorphins and dopamine too. This is responsible for that feeling of achievement and the more we get the more we want which motivates us to do more of the good stuff!
- Keep a gratitude diary – if you create the habit of writing down 5 things every day that have been good, your brain will start to notice the good things more, creating serotonin and reducing stress.
“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!” Peter Pan
If you have concerns about your child’s stress levels or well-being you can:
⭐ Speak to your GP
⭐ Book a consultation with a trained therapist
Plus here are some helpful numbers and websites you might find useful:
Young Minds: www.youngminds.co.uk
Young Minds Parent Helpline (Monday – Friday):0808 802 5544
Eating disorders: www.b-eat.co.uk
National Self-Harm Network: www.nshn.co.uk
Papyrus: Advice and support for young people struggling with suicidal thoughts. 0800 068 4141
Childline (Under 19s): 0800 11 11