Have you ever wondered why you can drink a glass of wine one week and your rosacea doesn’t react, but a week later you do the exact same thing and your skin flips out? I have spoken about the ‘bucket theory’ on my social pages before but thought it warranted its own post.
The basic premise of the bucket theory is very simple. Picture your body as a bucket and picture every one of your rosacea triggers as a blob of water. Some blobs would fill a pint glass, some a shot glass, some would be a tiny droplet in that bucket. But for me all of them have a cumulative effect. Managing my skin has become easier when I think about the incremental effects my choices have.
The bucket theory isn’t something that I have devised – it’s quite a common analogy used in psychology circles especially in relation to mental health. But I think it applies perfectly to rosacea.
Rosacea is different for everyone, so your exact triggers and their impact may vary (I’d recommend downloading my free rosacea Trigger Checklist HERE if you’re still struggling to find yours). But what is common among most rosacea sufferers is that when our bodies are already in a state of aggravation, or stress, or irritation, our rosacea is a lot easier to annoy.
So – to use the bucket analogy – one week you could have been careful with your diet, the weather might have been mild, you didn’t feel stressed, and you were in tip-top health. That delicious Friday night glass of wine would have been a drop in a nearly-empty triggers bucket.
But the next week could not be more different … there’s a disaster at work, your diet goes out of the window because you’re so busy, the weather suddenly changes, and you come down with a cold. That medicinal – and much needed – glass of wine on a Friday night is now the small drop of water that makes the bucket overflow.
I have used this analogy with many people who have messaged me looking for help in the past and it has really helped them to understand their skin from two perspectives:
- Rosacea is complicated and saying ‘this food / weather / emotion / ingredient makes my rosacea unhappy, I’ll avoid it completely’ is too restrictive and simplistic. It can often make people more stressed to constantly think about what they’re missing out on. The bucket theory shows that it’s all about balance and tailoring your decisions to what works for you.
- It also shows that rosacea requires ongoing management. I am often asked how I got my skin under control and they usually want me to tell them the magic solution (if this is you, my recent post on denial may be what you need to hear) but the truth is that I think about my skin most days. It doesn’t annoy me or make me sad anymore s it’s just a normal part of my life. It’s exactly the same as living with any other chronic condition – it needs at least some of your attention or things start to slip.
For me, having the bucket theory in the back of my mind actually helps me to make better decisions each day. I’ll think of my rosacea and weigh up each decision: should I have this third cup of coffee because I know that later on I want to curl my hair, and then after that I have to get the tube which will be hotter than the sun? … It’s probably not worth it. Whereas on some days I’ll weigh up the decisions and decide that the trigger is worth it for the treat. Only you can know where your tipping point it, and it will likely change all the time.
In the run up to Christmas last year I didn’t drink alcohol for weeks, I ate very healthily, I drank a lot of water, I looked after myself… because I know that Christmas is usually a time when I want to treat myself. By starting in the best place (with an almost empty bucket if we are sticking with this analogy!) I could allow myself some ‘cheats’ that would normally have my skin spiralling.
What do you think about the bucket theory? Does it make sense to you? Do you think it will change the way you treat your rosacea in the future? Let me know in the comments below!
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