How big is your stress container, and how can thinking about this help you be there for others, and be kinder to yourself?
Mental Health First Aid England use the idea of “The Stress Container” when training people to be Mental Health First Aiders. In simple terms, they believe we all have a ‘stress container’ (visualise a petrol tank or something similar) and that because we’re all different, everyone has a different sized container, meaning that different stressors affect us all differently.
What a simple and understandable way to explain why some things have a bigger impact on us than others, and why empathy isn’t always easy. So what can we take away from this concept?
- Because we all have different sized stress containers, don’t assume you know how someone else is feeling about something stressful in their life. Instead, just ask, and really listen to the answer. This is such a powerful way to support someone, and often helps the person empty some of their stress container away. It’s good to talk, and even better to listen.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. If you’re struggling with something and others around you seem to be taking it in their stride, just remember that they might have more room in their stress container than you do at the moment. Get the support you need to free up some space and remember that most stressful situations are only temporary.