How can we use the ‘Stress Bucket’ analogy to support good mental health?


For many people, there is still a real ‘normal v abnormal’ mindset surrounding mental health. This needs to change. People who are struggling with their mental wellbeing are all normal – they are our siblings, our parents, our neighbours and our colleagues. We all need to accept that it is normal to need help sometimes.

It is also important to think about our mental health every day – even when things are going well. In fact, by looking after and noticing our mental wellbeing during the good times, we are more likely to feel resilient and able to cope during the tougher periods.


Good mental health is about having feelings of contentment and enjoyment in your life.

It also includes:

• Having a positive self-image and feeling reasonably confident

• Having successful relationships with other people

• Being actively engaged with the world around you

• Being able to cope successfully with the everyday stresses and strains of your life

• Being able to adapt and change – and having faith in your ability to do so during more uncertain times.


When thinking about mental health, one of the best ways to understand why sometimes we can cope, and other times we cannot, is to use the analogy of the stress bucket.

This bucket fills up with all the stresses of the day, and can be emptied by a good night’s sleep, or by engaging with things which make us feel happy and relaxed. If the bucket starts to fill or overflow, we can start to feel anxious and overwhelmed.

We all have a stress bucket, but some people are better at emptying it – or have less going into it – than others.

The other problem is, when we focus on the problems we are having, and think about all the things we have going on – which is a perfectly natural thing to do – we are actually adding more things to our bucket and therefore making it more likely to overflow.

The key to good mental health is to engage with things which help to empty the bucket: This will include relaxation techniques, spending time with friends, engaging with things which make us happy, talking to someone we trust, and making positive changes where we can.

Stress Bucket Diagram

Our mental health is something we should all be taking more care of: anxiety and depression are two of the biggest killers in our society. It is always important to make sure that people seek professional help when dealing with anxiety or depression, but in for additional suggestions for support, take a look at this blog – Suggestions to Support Anxiety & Depression.

Written by Jenny Logan DNMed(Jenny is a nutritional therapist who has worked with clients in health food stores and private clinics for over 20 years).


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