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The How-To Lounge: Compartmentalizing Emotions

Compartmentalizing has been a buzz term in psychology for some time now, and refers to the habit of consciously separating specific aspects of one's life from others in order to not dwell on bad feelings. For example, if you’ve had a terrible day at work, to properly compartmentalize those negative emotions, you’d leave them at work and go home happy. But while this word is often slung around, actually achieving its purpose is much more difficult. If you're looking to learn more about how to do this, then check out my tips. To see them


  • Being able to compartmentalize a negative emotion does involve some letting go, and as we know, letting go is really hard! So instead of thinking of it as simply getting over something, consider it a temporary pause while you deal with other things. Knowing that you can come back to it later will make it easier to leave it behind now.
  • Just because you're putting specific worries away doesn’t mean that you can’t address them. Go ahead and open up to friends, but avoid dwelling. The whole point of compartmentalizing is that it allows you to do other things without managing the stress of your bigger problem at the same time.
  • Decide when you can go back and deal with your issue. In fact, if you need to literally pick a time, then do so. If you’ve had a fight with your boyfriend, but you both have to go to a party, you’re going to have to fake nice. But recognize that you'll be communicating again once the party is over.
  • On that note, don’t over compartmentalize. If you keep stuffing emotions and stress away, it’s going to catch up with you. So use compartmentalizing as a tool, rather than a solution.


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