Compartmentalizing as a Caregiver

Hey There,

writing a checklist note of items to remember
To help you compartmentalize if you do not have time in between work, home, and caregiving, write the important things you need to remember or do on a note and place it somewhere you know you will see it.

Tips for Starting Compartmentalization in Your Life

Try to allow a few minutes in between work, home, and caregiving.  Give yourself time to regroup and process things and events from the day.  You can do this on your commute home. This way, you can be mentally present for the tasks at hand.  It is excellent for your mind and body to practice deep breathing while you are doing this.

If you do not have time in between work, home, and caregiving, write things down on a sticky note what you need to remember or do and place it somewhere you know you will see it.  You may also put a note on your phone or in your calendar at work or at home. Then, leave whatever the concern or task is, right there with the sticky note, on the phone, or in the calendar.  Take a couple of slow deep even breaths in and out and then go on to your next task. Don’t let it enter your mind again until you are ready.

You may need to remind yourself- This is good, It will be ok, and I will not forget this.   I do, I have the note to remind me.  Everything is ok. Take a deep breath and leave the thought there. I know this is easier said than done.  But, with time, it will get easier.

It Affects Us Long Term

Compartmentalization is important because taking thoughts of uncompleted tasks, stress, worry, and things that happened throughout the day is hard on your mind and body. Even though this is only in our minds, it has a significant impact on our physical bodies.  This can and does affect our hearts, minds, happiness, blood pressure, and the list goes on.  Taking these things with us throughout our day is like a metaphorical ball and chain weighing us down.  It is not suitable for us, and it affects how we interact with others.

The Good News

Aaron Burden

There is good news. While the most significant part of dragging these things with us throughout the day is mental, so is compartmentalizing.  It takes 21 days of completing a new task to make it a habit and 45 to make it a lifestyle change (This is not an exact amount of time.  Everyone has a different timeline.  It is a general rule of thumb.)  If you can keep trying this for three weeks, your brain will have learned how to automate compartmentalization.  That means you will have this new skill down!  You are retraining your mind about how to process information.  It is a really neat thing to know we as humans can do this for ourselves. We just have to make learning this task a priority in our lives.

Some things may not fit nicely into one compartment or another.  It happens.  It is how you handle it that makes all the difference in the world.  For example:  If you work solely from home.  Your office is the dining room table.  Your six kids are home from school, and you are caring for Great-Aunt Gertrude, who is 102 things get not only busy but almost impossible to compartmentalize.  In these situations, it is best to bock time.  You may even use a kitchen timer if needed.  Let everyone involved know the schedule.  They will be more amiable if they understand what time is theirs and that they will have your undivided attention for that set amount of time.

Example of Time Blocking:



Remember, not every day can be compartmentalized like this.  This is when you must mentally or physically write it down on your sticky note, phone or calendar and walk away until you can be present with it again.    Work on your breathing as much as you can.  Ground as much as possible.  Try to find ways to think positively I promise you can do this- Everyday.  Just maybe someday will be one day or one minute at a time.

As always, there are additional resources below.  If you feel like you are in need of help, reach out to friends, family, your hospice or palliative care team.



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