To Compartmentalize or Not

A New Routine for Coping with COVID

These days my mind feels like it is being bombarded with numerous stimuli. Both visual and auditory, each evoking their own strong reactions, the emotional exhaustion is disabling. Focusing is difficult. There is a constant pressure of incomplete tasks. 

As I reflect on the why of my emotions and my unsuccessful solutions thus far,  I am drawn into a self-dialogue around compartmentalizing. 

Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism employed to avoid cognitive dissonance. —Zack Love

I am a believer that to show up wholly and authentically in the world we have to integrate our inner and outer lives, personal and professional, and create safe spaces for others to do the same. How does compartmentalizing influence this? Is it wrong? Is compartmentalization necessary? 

In our current environment especially, more than one ‘serious’ or challenging issue is likely going on in both our professional and personal realms. The emotional burden impacts our focus and serenity. How can we put our emotions on hold? Should we? Would compartmentalizing them be a way of not dealing with them, even ignoring them? 

I realized that I needed to acknowledge my emotions and intentionally decide how and when to address them. 

I finally decided to make myself take breaks. Get up every hour even if I was on Zoom meetings, mute and turn the camera off, and walk in the room with my headphones on. I turned off the news alerts on my phone and watched only the evening news. I decided that just because I was working from home this week, I would not put a load in the washer in between meetings, I would not go to the mailbox til evening, as I did if I was at the hospital. This routine will help me gain perspective on how to cope better. 

I think healthy compartmentalizing comes with insight about our pressure points, what our mind, body and spirit need, and meeting those needs to the best of our ability. It is not about ignoring or denying our challenges. On the contrary, it is about not obsessing about challenges so much that it derails us and the other tasks we do. It is compartmentalization with integration of our inner and outer lives that is needed and healthy. 

When we think of what is necessary for the phenomenon that we call life, we think of compartmentalization, keeping the molecules which are important for life in a membrane, isolated from the rest of the environment, but yet, in an environment in which they actually could originate together. —Dimitar Sasselov

#REFLECT: How are you compartmentalizing in a healthy way? As Dimitar Sasselov writes, how might we create a healthy environment together despite being isolated?