• Shared Journeys Therapy

How full is your bucket?

Updated: Mar 6



The stress bucket is an idea devised by Professor A.Brabban and Dr D.Turkington (2002).


Imagine you have a bucket inside your body, and this bucket collects all the stress that accumulates throughout the day.


Sometimes a few big stresses may fill the bucket quickly, or there may be lots of smaller stresses that build up over time, like the drip, drip of water, until eventually the bucket overflows. When this happens, we may become overwhelmed, irritable, tearful or burnt out.

Things that can fill your bucket include difficult life events, work stress, daily chores, relational or financial stress. Also, we all have different sized buckets, so whereas some of us have plenty of room before it overflows, for others it takes less water to reach the brim.


Now, imagine you have a tap you can turn on intermittently to let the water out.



If stress is the water that fills the bucket, the tap represents those things that release the stress, the ‘good’ stuff. Reducing the level of water in your bucket helps increase resilience and ability to cope. Turning the tap on can mean practicing some relaxation, taking time out for hobbies or interests, spending time with family or friends, or even just doing nothing for a while. Often, its at the most trying times that we forget to put into practice our positive coping skills, the very times we need these the most.


Maybe take a few minutes to reflect on the things that fill your bucket, and more importantly what your ‘taps’ are:


  • What coping skills do you already have?

  • What has helped you cope in the past?

  • Are there things you have stopped doing?

  • What do other people do to rewind, and are any of these things you would like to try yourself?

  • What will you choose to put into practice next time you feel your bucket becoming full?


Make a note of these things and put it somewhere easy to access when you're feeling overwhelmed or need a quick reminder. Notice what works and how you feel after using your chosen skills. Is it something you would use again? If not, try something else until you have your own, personalised collection of taps.