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Putting Things In Boxes

I have seen many internal medicine patients over the years that present to my office with a sensation of feeling overwhelmed.  They will describe a myriad of events transpiring in their lives that require lots of attention and produce marked anxiety.  Some examples of these angst-producing issues include (feel free to add on to this list):

Placing this in the category of “Easy to say/Difficult to do”, I will recommend to people that they try as best as possible to place the various stressors into individual “boxes” and try to NOT allow the problems in one box to spill over to the other boxes.  When the world seems to be crashing down on you, how easy is it to go in the “vacation box”, forget about all of your troubles and have a great time?  The answer is:  NOT easy at all.  Despite being on a beach in paradise, the contents of those other “boxes” will seep into our minds and detract from the peace and fun we are striving for.

  • Stressful work situations
  • Relationship issues with the spouse
  • Attending to elderly, infirmed parents
  • Issues involving their children with special needs
  • Health problems
  • Poor weight control

Let’s go to the “weight control box”.  This box requires focus, planning, determination and lots of other factors for there to be any chance of success.   The bullet point “boxes” listed above have very strong contents that, if allowed to filter into the weight loss “box”, will markedly reduce the chances of long-term weight control success.

The first step in addressing the “keep things in boxes” recommendation is to identify all of the “boxes” in your life that contain negative contents.  Reality is such that you cannot simply discard the box, as in the example of attending to elderly, ill parents or handling issues related to your children that may have special needs.  Once these “boxes” are identified, clearly address the best ways of handling the issues involved.  However, when it comes to the “weight control box” it is imperative that you do not allow “seepage” from the other boxes to harm your efforts to shed the weight.

Being at a healthier/happier weight will position you to be able to get into those other boxes and handle those issues much better.   And one more “box” that is important:  Finding time to relax and “zone out” from thinking about the contents of those other, stressful boxes.  Meditation, yoga, golf, exercise and similar activities may be that box for you that needs to be jumped into at times.  Make sure that happens!

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