On Wednesday I was presenting Mental Health Awareness to a Group of Childrens’ Nurses. Part of the day is taken up with raising awareness of our own mental health and how we manage the stressors in our own lives.
Yerkes-Dodson back in 1909 suggested that stress or pressure is vital for us to perform, but if we experience too much stress our performance levels drop quite dramatically.
Now we all require different levels of stress or pressure to perform effectively, therefore we all become distressed at different levels. This is best described by the stress bucket theory.
We all have a bucket in which we store our stress. Now we are all born with different size buckets, and our buckets can change size throughout our lives depending on what is happening in our lives. Stress fills our bucket like water, and when it gets full it overflows which results in us becoming distressed and unable to function effectively.
Thankfully our bucket has a tap at the bottom that we can turn on.
The tap is turned on by taking part in positive activities that we enjoy and make us happy. Now we all enjoy different activities so it is important that you choose the right activity for you that gives you the most satisfaction. Be wary of activities that involve chemicals both legal and illegal (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, etc.) as these often give short term satisfaction along with long term stress.
Now it is important to tend to your stress bucket everyday and not just empty it once it is full. Find time each day for positive activities (activities that make you feel satisfied or happy). Most days we take part in many different positive activities without noticing, therefore spending a few minutes each day toting up all the positive things that have happened in the day can be very effective.
Aim for an hour of positive activity everyday, and most importantly recognise and appreciate those activities.