The Bucket

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  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.

thing I find cute, funny, and beautiful

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.

The Bucket Pin

12 thoughts on “The Bucket

    • You’re welcome! Thanks for writing it! Before reading your article, like I said, I knew about “buckets” in the health realm, but hadn’t really put it into practice with being an HSP. It is SO true though, and the more I realize it every day, the better I can manage my life. 🙂 I really appreciate you stopping by and especially for writing that post!

  1. Love this! I get it completely!! Is that cute little critter a dwarf bunny?! I just found you, but I will be sure to visit often!

    • Welcome! So glad you are here! I think it’s a dwarf bunny — honestly, I just found it with an internet search of “bunny,” but I do think the caption on it read dwarf bunny. I only remember because I thought it was so cute. 🙂

  2. This is so good. I have an 8 year old daughter, who is quite sensitive. Just tonight, we were at our last Christmas Family Gathering and she had a lot of fun playing and running with her cousin. However, when it got to after 8 p.m., another little cousin was being very loud and obnoxious. I could see her get visibly upset and she actually started to cry before I could completely get her jacket on and out to the car. I completely understand the feeling because I feel the same way in certain situations. Of course, I don’t get visibly upset and start crying (at least not usually!), but I feel very stressed when things get out of hand for long periods of time. For myself, (especially with my kids at home) I have learned to feel the trigger of them being too loud for too long and finding them a quiet activity or area to go before I begin to yell at them. When I am overloaded, I will almost always yell. Thankfully, I am learning each day what my triggers are and working through them. Thanks for a helpful article.

    • That’s great that you are learning your triggers and being proactive. It took me awhile to get to that point. 🙂 Also awesome is your non-judgmental attitude towards your 8yo! Every HSP kid should be so lucky. 🙂

  3. Wow. I hadn’t thought of it like this. And your line about a friend ‘going over and above?’ Puts words to my thoughts/emotions and makes me think it’s not just me and it’s not selfish to want another person (aside from my hubby) to care that much. Thank you.

    • Not selfish at all! People, especially women I believe, need relational input. It’s harder these days, but still so necessary. And painful when it’s not there.

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