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Compartmentalizing Anxiety

June 01, 1996

Is all this organization really good for you?

Organizing is a way to manage anxiety, said Lyndel Brennan of Pathways to Discovery, an addictive-behaviors program. The more organized people are, the less stress they'll feel.

For a person who is "cluttered internally," organizing closets can create a feeling of emotional control, she said. And she recommends that people who are having difficulty at work do small organizational tasks to boost their self-esteem.

The problem with controlling your environment to manage anxiety is that you have to keep doing it, said Maxine B. Cohen, a marriage and family therapist in Newport Beach, who leads a divorce recovery workshop.

"Is it running you, or are you running it? If it's not running you, [organization] can be a healthy way to take care of yourself," she said.

Balance seems to be the key. Organization doesn't have to mean that everything is filed away in a drawer. It could mean you have organized piles of paper, Brennan said.

Even Sharon Tindell of the Container Store agreed.

"You can do it by lining up all the cans in your pantry in a row or alphabetizing your spices. For some people, one big box in the center of the closet that holds all the shoes is all the shoe organizing they need," she said.

And this from a woman who admits she organizes her socks.

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