I was first introduced to the bucket theory through my daughters’ allergist. Basically, the body can be like a bucket, and too much exposure to even mild allergens, toxins, or pathogens fills that bucket, and leaves little room for the immune system to work…like a bucket that has become full from many drops over time.
When the bucket is full, symptoms are more noticeable or worse. For example, seasonal allergies may be much worse in a person already overloaded with mold and dust exposure from the home. The immune system can’t properly function with all that bombardment, so one must lessen the overall exposure in order to help it not overreact.
Highly sensitive people (HSPs) have a bucket too, one made full by every little sensory thing that goes in it during the day. Sounds, lights, temperatures, emotions…Amanda van Mulligan explains it very well in this article.
As homeschoolers, we are by design around our children all day. We are exposed to children peppering us with questions, noises, whining, probably a distinct lack of sleep, children fighting, paperwork everywhere, occasional (or constant, *ahem*) visual clutter, pressure to get things done, the pressure of a single income, housework that gets put on hold while you teach, drama from other homeschoolers, drama from social media…I could go on and on…but I’ll stop. I’m scaring myself. 😉
Did you not sleep well last night, or are you stressed about something? Sick? Dealing with the fallout of PTSD? You are starting off the day with a bucket already approaching full. Have you been like this for days, weeks…years? Your body is getting exhausted from dragging that full bucket around.
When the bucket is full, “things” slosh over and pour out. Tears, anger, sickness, depression.
It is essential to your health (mental AND physical) and the emotional climate of your household that you find ways to empty that bucket.
I cannot say what will work for you. If there is anything I’m learning it’s that no two people are exactly alike in what empties that HSP bucket and replaces it with calm. I will share a little list of what works for me right now, in the hopes that it may spark an idea that works for you:
- deep breathing breaks, often during the day…just a few breaths in and out and a conscious relaxing of my upper body.
- mindfulness – trying to think about exactly what I am experiencing right now, no more and no less, when I think of it, which is probably not often enough. Maybe once per day I remember?
- having a time we are D.O.N.E. with school for the day, no matter how much or little we accomplished
- finding something funny to watch (I love Whose Line Is It Anyway), laughter can be like a wonder drug
- smiling for a minute or two even if I do not feel in any way happy – it’s known to boost endorphins
- visiting a Facebook group that I’m a member of where the people “get me” (but staying in general off my regular feed unless I’m strong enough to withstand it)
- looking at things I find cute, funny or beautiful
- writing/blogging, if I have something particular I need to get off my mind
- soaking my feet in warm water with epsom salts and essential oils (or better yet getting a foot rub)
- watching Brave Writer Periscopes archived on Katch.me. She is so encouraging!
- having an small achievable goal, outside of my usual housework/homeschooling, in an area that makes me happy
- having something to look forward to, at least one thing for every thing I dread (e.g. I hate food shopping but buying myself a hot chocolate while there is something to look forward to) (unless I spill it and knock over the supermarket)
- doing my best to control the input I can — opening a window to hear birds chirping instead of having the radio on, candlelight vs. florescents, comfortable clothes, getting the sleep I need when possible, etc.
I admit, I’m the kind of person that is best emotionally balanced by other people’s kind actions and words. A surprise gift, or people going out of their way to do something generous because they knew we needed it, can empty my entire stress bucket at once. All the gratitude lists in the world won’t do as much as a friend going “over and above” for me. But since I know I can’t control that, the above things help me keep my bucket in check. Your list might be completely different, and that is awesome. Just find what works for you, and do it as often as you can.
It’s not selfish, it’s healthcare. It’s not good for you to drag that full bucket around day after day.