Stop Feeling Overwhelmed by Living in Day-tight Compartments

Ever watch Hoarders, the TV show? What about Clean House? One feeling keeps popping up from the people who live in these messy homes overflowing with stuff: overwhelmed. In a Clean House episode, the homeowner must’ve said “Overwhelmed” at least 10 times when asked how the home spiraled out of control and why didn’t she do something about it.
Photo from user PajcusI understand the feeling. Not from a messiness perspective, but from a mental one. However, I’ve seen my sons’ closets turn into a mini-hoarder zone when they play their little games and mess up each other’s closets. I’d look at the mess feeling overwhelmed. If I were to clean them up (their mess, their job to clean it up), I wouldn’t know where to start because looking at it paralyzed me despite knowing you start by picking up the first item and putting where it needs to go.
The overwhelmed feeling can turn into anxiety and turn into a barrier for getting things done.
Think Day-tight Compartments
I’ve been a worrier since high school, if not before. When I heard about Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living [affiliate], I read the book right around the time I started my first post-college job. Many of its concepts stuck with me for years especially the live in “day-tight compartments” advice. I’ve been applying it a lot lately.
Right before school started, I worried about whether one kid could handle an increased load and how we would manage a busier schedule on top of helping our oldest apply for college and planning a family milestone event.
STOP! Put the blinders on. Think day-tight compartments. OK, I didn’t do this as quickly as I should have. Eventually, I got there after school started and experienced the things that concerned me.
Focus on the Now
Yes, it’s hectic as expected. But instead of making myself crazy, I focus on the now. What do I need to do now? Relish what I am doing now.
Sometimes my mind wanders while watching TV during a workout that I lose track of the story. Stop, rewind, shut out unrelated stray thoughts and listen to the story.  Deal with stray thoughts later.
During night-time book reading, thoughts of things I need to do for work creep in. Wall up. I have a book to enjoy and I smile pleased with myself that I made time to read. Work will wait until morning. If I need to remember something, write it down and forget about it.
Work time arrives. Instead of I need to do this, this ‘n this — it’s, “What is the one thing I must do today?” (Zen Habits talks about this in detail.) I concentrate on making that happen as early in the day as possible. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.
Notice the theme? Focusing on the present. Block everything else and address them when the time is right. It’s not 100% foolproof. At times, I’ll falter especially when too much comes my way in a short time.
When life overwhelms you, how do you handle it? How do you manage worries and things piling on? What advice would you give to worriers?

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