The Stress Bucket Model

The Stress Bucket Model

Stress Bucket Model

Balancing the thick and thin of everyday life.

The Stress Bucket Model

The Stress Bucket Model – As busy as the world seems to get nowadays, we are getting all too familiar with the physical and mental stress of everyday life. Sure, stress is not bad in itself. In fact, it is an integral part of our survival mechanism. Under stress, your adrenaline starts pumping and the cortisol level jumps up, raising the blood sugar level. The focus is shifted from the digestive and immune system, and your body goes into a full alert mode. This fight or flight phenomenon that your body and mind exhibit in times of crisis depends on stress to pull the trigger. The trouble is, when stress gets out of hand, the barrel is pointing your way!

“Stress is a double edged sword. Little stress will aid in your survival, but too much stress will threaten it!”

How much stress can your body take?

As a Thai boxing champ for 3 consecutive years before retirement, I often train professional boxers at the gym. Now, these guys are on an another level altogether, training and conditioning their body for 6 to 7 hours every day. So how comes they are at it for years without “Overtraining” while others burn out after just a week of ‘hard’ training?

To put it simply, I would say stress management. The secret lies in maintaining a high, stress tolerance level, and in systematically releasing the excess stress. But how much, is too much?

Stress Bucket Model

The Stress Bucket Model gives us the easiest to understand explanation. Stress exists in various forms. It could be psychological, physiological or even environmental. For example; lack of sleep, skipping breakfast, missing the train, an over-demanding boss, going over the top at the gym, bad weather, a nagging wife/husband, alcohol, cigarettes, staying up late watching TV, being late the next day for work… You get the picture, right?

These are all stress factors. Now imagine you have a bucket and all these stress’ fall into this bucket in the form of water. How big the bucket is and how heavy it can get, well that depends on the person carrying the bucket. His physique, his strength, his lifestyle and even his mood plays a role in defining his stress tolerance level. But no matter who is holding the bucket, one thing for certain is that at some point, the bucket will overflow. This is the breaking point of the person. But that is only half the story.

The other half of the stress bucket model concerns the various stress release mechanisms such as – sleep, listening to soothing music, a healthy diet or maybe just sharing a laugh with friends! These stress relieving activities are the holes in the bucket through which the accumulated stress is discarded. It is of the utmost importance, that the stress input does not exceed the stress output.

The Stress Bucket Model

High stress output is the key here, and we must choose our activities and lifestyle accordingly.

Professional athletes, bodybuilders, martial artists etc do not begin their career with 8 hours at the gym right from day 1. They build this tolerance over time. But more importantly, they have figured out effective coping mechanisms that aid in releasing the accumulated stress and fasten the recovery process.

6 Effective Ways to Combat Excess Stress:

Stretching

After a solid workout or after sitting for long hours in front of the computer at your  9-5 job, muscles tend to get tensed up and the body begins to feel rigid. If left unattended, these could also cause chronic pain, especially around the neck, shoulders, and back.

Stretching improves the blood circulation, which in turn relaxes the muscles and releases the stress. The improved blood circulation, in turn, improves the cardiovascular health. It also helps to shift the body from a catabolic state (during workout) to an anabolic state (recovery). Stretching slows down the heart rate and signals the nervous system to decrease the production of stress hormones. While improving circulation, stretching also sends new blood to the brain which improves our mood. And the mood is a major psychological stress factor.

Fitness professionals have long known the importance and benefits of stretching. I always advise my students to undertake a good stretching activity such as yoga to counter stress.

Ice Baths

Ice baths are one of my favourite stress release methods. it is also used by many of the elite athletes and fitness enthusiast for its effectiveness.

How it works is that, when you sit in an ice bath, the body is exposed to an extremely cold temperature. This constricts the blood vessels contrary to the warming up caused by the workout. This alteration helps to discard the waste and toxins, namely the lactic acid formed during the workout, from the blood vessels. Too much lactic acid in the body can cause fatigue and a ‘delayed onset of muscle soreness’ (DOMS).

The cold temperature also slows down the body metabolism and prevents muscle swelling. When you get out of the ice bath, the body begins to warm up again, aborting fresh oxygen into the blood vessels and delivering it to the muscles for their recovery.

Other than relieving stress, ice baths also improve alertness and immunity due to the improved blood circulation. They are also known to fight depression by activating the sympathetic nervous system. No wonder, ice baths are a favourite post-workout stress release for many!

Massage

This is probably one of the most popular methods since stress release is almost always the primary objective of anyone going in for a massage session. Massage is very effective not just against the physical stress, but mental stress as well.

Almost immediately, massage helps to relax all the tense and right muscles. Blood circulation improves, while blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol, a stress hormone, goes down.

Massage also has a calming effect on the mind. Endorphins, the feel good hormone is released along with serotonin and dopamine which further helps in relaxing your mind. A relaxed body enters into the parasympathetic state where the body begins repairing and rebuilding the muscles. At the same time, depression and anxiety are significantly lowered. So no matter what type of stress you are under, a massage is always a win-win choice!

Meditation

Meditation can work wonders with mental stress. It puts you in an overall positive mood and tends to calm you down. This has a significant impact in lowering anxiety levels and depression, two very emotionally taxing ailments.

But the real benefit of meditation is in the long term use of it. It helps to shift our perspective in a very positive way thus changing how we perceive and react to stress. The breathing techniques usually associated with meditation helps improve the oxygen supply to the major organs. Along with its extraordinary impact in easing mental stress, meditation also lowers the heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol level, which are major factors contributing towards physical stress.

Sleep

Stress and sleep often play a game of cat and mouse with each other. When the stress is big, sleep is hard to find and when the sleep is good, the stress is gone! This is the body’s default stress release and body repair method. This is the anabolic state the body waits for after a workout. You only need to pay attention and listen to your body. But many times, our lifestyle choices affect our essential sleep quota. Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to serious physical conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure etc, while regular good sleep lowers even the cholesterol levels.

Friends

Friends are one of our most treasured assets. And they are treasured mainly for the way they make us feel, which is, of course, a positive feeling. We feel loved and accepted. We are relaxed and needless to say, stress-free!

Studies even show that friends tend to increase longevity. On the other hand, lack of friends may cause depression, anxiety, and heart diseases. Being with good friends releases oxytocin which in turn boosts the serotonin levels. These two, or rather, our friends literally keep our stress at bay!

Empty that bucket!

When the bucket overflows, your system goes into a critical state and side-effects of too much stress such as overtraining syndrome sets in. To avoid such chronic consequences and in order to improve the quality of life in general, maintaining low stress levels, is very important.

I have shared with you here some of the most effective stress release methods. However one must also give equal importance to a good diet and a healthy lifestyle. Maybe you too have come up with some effective ways to tackle stress yourself. In which case you should consider sharing it in the comments and then share this article with your friends as well, since helping others is a proven way to decrease stress levels.

Krix Luther Administrator
Krix Luther is a Health and Fitness Specialist, he is one of Asia’s leading Personal Trainers, he is also an avid Free Diver and founder of the Clean The Beach Boot Camp
×
Krix Luther Administrator
Krix Luther is a Health and Fitness Specialist, he is one of Asia’s leading Personal Trainers, he is also an avid Free Diver and founder of the Clean The Beach Boot Camp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *