NOVAK: Best coping skill: Compartmentalize your life 

By: Lindsey Novak//March 16, 2022//

NOVAK: Best coping skill: Compartmentalize your life 

By: Lindsey Novak//March 16, 2022//

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        Q: I have suffered from a long and difficult divorce from a husband who ruined my credit. I have an ongoing lawsuit against my ex, but at least I now have a high-paying job. My stress is constant between the two. I have been able to do my job well, but I made one error my boss will not let me forget, even though I corrected it. 
        I worry my boss will fire me because of these personal interferences. I support two children, so I desperately need my job, but it’s impossible to deal with my personal life too. Please don’t tell me to meditate. I can’t and I don’t like it. 
        A: Meditating may be too far off from your personality type to practice, but compartmentalizing may be just the coping skill you need to learn. Dr. Maria Baratta, Ph.D., LCSW, specializing in coping skills, relationship issues, anxiety and depression, says everyone can learn compartmentalizing, but it is not a one-time action. Compartmentalizing is a coping skill to teach you how to create mental boundaries; your ability to readily separate environments will build your mental muscle as you practice it. 
        Start by making a conscious decision to focus only on work once you arrive. That means not responding to personal texts and calls to your personal cellphone. You can record an alternate voicemail greeting stating that all personal calls will be returned at the end of the workday. If you have an argument that morning with a family member, clearly state you will discuss it when you return home and schedule a time for it. Explain you will no longer be taking calls when you are at work, except for emergencies. 
        Practice the same for when you leave work. Your time at home will focus on personal issues. When you make a daily practice of separating work from personal, you will create the habit of not mixing the two environments. If you want to think about personal issues, you must stop yourself if they crop up when you’re at work. Put those thoughts aside for when you are home. 
        Some people find they need a transition period. This can take the form of a private time for debriefing, such as summarizing your work at the end of the workday and closing that compartment when you leave work. During this brain-training period, you can feel more at ease by dealing with one focus area at a time. Going back and forth between personal issues and work assignments will blend the two environments and you will lose your ability to control your thoughts. Mentally crossing over from home to work must be a conscious decision each day until it becomes a habit. 
        You may want to schedule personal time with each family member who has things to talk to you about. This will add calm to your home time as family members will not worry about you cutting them short by switching over to work issues. 
        If this new approach to work and home life seems difficult, work with a therapist who can help you through any anxiety you have in changing. Thinking patterns are created through your behavior, and you can create new patterns if you try. 
        Email life and career coach [email protected] with all your workplace questions and experiences. COPYRIGHT 2022 CREATORS.COM 

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