She worked as the head marketer for a major pharmaceuticals company. Every open space in her cubicle was covered with high stacks of papers, notebooks, office supplies and boxes. It felt as if she was overwhelmed and had set up this fortress to keep people away.
We cleared a space for me to sit. I asked her some questions and she revealed to me that she was behind in her tasks, and she was constantly being interrupted by people stopping at her work space and asking her to do things. She would help them and would get further behind in her own work. She revealed it was rare for her to even get a chance to take a break and use the bathroom. She was in a state of high agitation and fear and had been this way for months.
I mentioned to her that her fortress wasn't effective in keeping people away. She agreed that it was her defense mechanism. I suggested that she could tell people when they come by that she is busy at the moment and they can set up a time to meet with her in the next day or two. She said she could do that. She decided to stand up for herself.
Once she became aware of the source of her clutter and how it was negatively effecting her and of the solution she began to toss away the clutter. Most of it was unnecessary. We filled up two large recycling trash containers. There were some papers that she needed to keep and they went into the proper files. When we were done, all her work spaces were cleared. She felt and looked peaceful.
When we get overwhelmed we often stay stuck in that reactive state and things get worse. This is a friendly note telling you that when you get stressed, it's okay to stop and breathe and take in your surroundings. What is going on? What are you doing now that doesn't feel right to you? Get up and walk away. Go for a walk outside. Breathe. Feel the air against your face. Feel your body relax. Our bodies don't work well when we are agitated and exhausted. What can you do now to fix the current situation? Is there someone you can talk with? Do you need a vacation? What do you want? When we take care of ourselves, we are better able to help others.
Take your time. Let the solutions come to you. It's amazing what you are capable of.