I know that sounds bad but sometimes distracting yourself is a good thing. Have you noticed that when you are stuck on a problem or dealing with something that is unpleasant, it’s easy to let all of your concentration drift to the problem? What happens to your stress levels and anxiety when you do this? Exactly. You multiply your stress and anxiety which is all bad. Today my stress and anxiety levels are actually pretty high because I have already written this post once today. I went to save it and WordPress glitched for some reason and I lost the whole thing. I was pretty upset and tried everything I could to get it back to no avail. So I walked away turned on some music, did a couple of small chores and then got my workout on to take my mind off of the frustration I felt at losing the whole thing. Then I could come back and start this all over again (after I got over wanting to throw the laptop out the window). Distracting yourself from the problem can let you relax for a while and recharge so that facing the issue does not seem as daunting. My distractions are a great source for stress relief and I’ve noticed that my anxiety levels drop dramatically when I am doing something to take my mind off of whats bothering me. There are all kinds of ways to relieve stress and anxiety and they are all great at providing a distraction from what is bothering you. Here are my top 7 ways to provide a distraction to myself and ease my stress and anxiety.
I am not a natural hobby person, which is funny because the rest of my family is pretty crafty. My mom is a great knitter. My sisters and nieces can grow great gardens. Once of my aunts was a painter. But sadly I ended up with whatever gene is responsible for the opposite of creativity. I can kill a cactus. I’ve tried knitting and crocheting but I can’t sit still for that long. I couldn’t draw if my life depended on it. My blog is a hobby for me. I enjoy the writing process and sharing this with as many people as I can. I guess my favorite “hobby” would have to be my dogs and animals in general. My dogs constantly want to play and need my attention. They are something that I know takes my mind off of things that are bugging me. My point is hobbies are great as a distraction. You have to really concentrate on what you are doing which leaves very little time to worry or stress out about life. You can make just about anything into a hobby. There are probably just as many people that like to take things apart as there are to put things together. What do you like? Do you like cars? What about computers or other electronics? Swimming? Flying airplanes? Take your interests and make them into something that you can commit time to and enjoy.
Alright so we already know that exercise is good for us. There is no use mentioning it again. BUT exercise can be a magnificent distraction. It’s like a moving meditation which can relieve all kinds of stress. You have to concentrate on what you are doing (or at least I have to because the other gene I inherited is the seriously klutzy gene) . I work out six days a week now and, everyday when I am working out, I am not thinking of anything else but not breaking a leg. It helps to provide some really necessary relief and completely restores my mood. And the big bonus is my body releases endorphins which keeps my mood up for hours after I am done.
I have discovered recently that it is virtually impossible for me to be annoyed with my fellow drivers if I sing along to the radio (don’t even get me started on distracted drivers). Listening to music (and dancing or singing along) is a great diversion. It’s a great way to up your mood and help you relax. I routinely turn on music and dance around like a crazy person in my house. It’s great fun and helps me forget about those pesky little problems for a while. Today I am cranking up the tunes because the start of my day was not so great and since I am not interested in the rest of the day being a downer, I am playing iHeart and dancing in my chair while I type. Another thing I used to do was pop in my ear buds and rock out while I was running. It distracted me from the fact that I actually hate running and it inspired me to keep going. I do have a caveat to listening to music to distract yourself. Pick upbeat happy music not the downer, everybody is mean, and the world is horrible kind of music. THAT is not going to help.
I know some people aren’t into the movies and that’s cool but I love a good movie. I am the biggest sci-fi and fantasy geek. I also love a good superhero movie (Wolverine is my hero). It’s a fun distraction to get drawn into a movie. For two hours (or longer) you don’t have to worry about anything but what is happening to the characters on the screen. And that leads me to:
I am also a big book nerd. I read constantly (once again mostly sci-fi and fantasy but I also love a good self help or spiritual book). Just like movies they are a great escape. There is nothing like a great story to distract you from your problems.
6. Go Outside
Another personal favorite of mine is going outside. Remember when you were a kid and couldn’t wait to go outside? Find that excitement. Whether it’s walking my dogs, cruising the beach or hiking in the mountains, I love being outside. I can devote all of my attention to the scenery around me. It doesn’t matter if you are more a city person or a country person (I’m a little of both). Some of my favorite pictures are pictures of buildings in San Francisco (my favorite place on earth). You can appreciate the beauty around you no matter where you are. When you take the time to appreciate everything around you, it distracts you from the issues causing your stress or anxiety.
This is one I am actually terrible about doing. I know the benefits of meditation but I don’t sit still well so I am an intermittent meditator. Sitting down, shutting your eyes and concentrating on your breathing (or repeating a mantra, whatever works for you) helps you to relax and divert your thoughts away from what is bothering you. When I do make myself sit down for 10 minutes in a row, I feel amazing afterwards (so you think I would do it more).
Distractions are a fabulous way to divert yourself from your problems for a little while. They let you relax and give you time to regroup so that you can you can face your problems head on. For me, doing these things help to ease my anxiety by removing my concentration from whatever is bothering me. Just don’t use activities like these to avoid making decisions or facing certain things in your life. Then these types of distractions are no longer helpful to you. I use these distractions all of the time, not only because they are fun but they help me to manage my moods better and make it easier for me to avoid the obsessive thoughts that are all part of my bipolar disorder. How do you spend you free time? What’s your favorite distraction?
For more ideas on great distractions see: