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How Compartmentalizing Helps Anxiety

September 14, 2021 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

Struggling with anxiety means often experiencing symptoms unexpectedly, so compartmentalizing anxiety can help. Life does not stop when you experience anxiety. The day goes on, you still have to go to work, go to school, tend to your family, and all of this does not stop when you feel anxious. However, there are coping strategies you can use to help you manage chronic anxiety on a daily basis when you know that life goes on and it is important to focus on the present. During times that this has occurred for me, I have found that it has been helpful for me to compartmentalize my anxious thoughts and feelings.

Why Compartmentalizing Is Helpful for Anxiety and When It's Not

I think compartmentalizing occurs when you have conflicting feelings, and you organize them in a way that allows you to cope. You may find that this is something you tend to do automatically, such as going to work and focusing on work instead of a problem you are having at home.

This is something that I have found extremely important to be intentional about. I remember a time during graduate school when I was experiencing quite a bit of anxiety. During the time, it became vital for me to compartmentalize anxious feelings to focus and function.

However, it is critical to be aware that compartmentalizing feelings does not mean avoiding feelings, nor does it mean ignoring an issue. It is also a short-term solution and should not be used in the long term. The purpose of compartmentalizing is to put something away and deal with it later. So, for example, you may tuck away that problem you are having at home so that you are productive during your workday, and you deal with it later on when you get home. If you use this coping strategy in the long term, this could lead to not dealing with an issue that needs to be dealt with, and it could even lead to negative coping behaviors.

Ways to Compartmentalize to Treat Anxiety Healthfully

Ultimately, the purpose of compartmentalizing is to help you stay grounded and focused on the present. I have found that it helps to reduce my anxiety in the present moment and allows me to function for work or whatever I am doing at that time. It also helps to keep fears and worries about the future from overwhelming me. So, how can you compartmentalize your feelings?

  1. First of all, be aware of your triggers. One thing I have practiced quite a bit over the years is recognizing certain things that trigger anxious feelings for me. When I recognize these triggers, I am then aware of something I need to compartmentalize and deal with at a later time.
  2. Think about it as a way of organizing your thoughts. Visualizing this process of organization, such as putting your worries in a box and setting it aside, can help you to compartmentalize.
  3. Give yourself time to focus on each thing you have compartmentalized. This might involve writing down these different feelings you are dealing with and the situation associated with them. Set aside time to focus on each one. You can even write this time down in your journal or your calendar. When it is time for you to focus on the issue, focus on it entirely.

Try these strategies to help you compartmentalize your anxious feelings. Share any strategies you use to compartmentalize anxiety in the comments below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2021, September 14). How Compartmentalizing Helps Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2021/9/how-compartmentalizing-helps-anxiety



Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

Lizanne Corbit
September, 14 2021 at 3:03 pm

I love that you broke down not only when compartmentalizing is helpful, but also when it's not. This is extremely good to know and it's important to have both sides of a tool like these so we can truly use it to our best benefit.

September, 16 2021 at 10:12 am

Hi Lizanne,
Thank you so much. Compartmentalizing can be helpful, temporarily, but it's important to be aware of when it can be harmful. I absolutely agree that this awareness can allow us to use it as effectively as possible.
Stay safe and well,
Rizza

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