We know that our stress levels rise and fall throughout the day and that we all need a certain level of stress to operate at our optimum. However, when we experience too many factors that cause us stress over a prolonged period, burnout can occur.
The stress bucket* is a useful analogy to help us visualise this process and is a helpful model for managers to use when considering their individual team members’ wellbeing.
Imagine each person carries a stress bucket with them, the level of which fills up when they experience different types of stress. However, it must be remembered that the size of each person’s stress bucket is individual to them and depends on their genes, personality, and life experiences.
If each factor which causes an individual stress is thought of in terms of cups of water, there is only a certain amount of water which can be added before their bucket will overflow. So, to keep the bucket at their personal optimum level, sometimes it will be necessary to stop more water from entering and to use coping strategies to release water, which can be thought of as a tap or holes at the bottom of the bucket. The aim being for the water level to return to that individual’s optimum level, thereby improving their wellbeing and ensuring burnout does not result.
Senior In Equilibrium consultant, Michelle Spirit has created this infographic which provides managers with an explanation of the internal and external factors which may increase an individual’s stress bucket together with some suggested strategies for helping to reduce stress bucket levels.
*Developed from an idea by Brabban and Turkington (2002)
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