Distraction Techniques

In my last post I talked about distraction, the first part of distress tolerance skills. I’m sure most of you have no problem coming up with distraction techniques, but just in caaaase I’m going to post a list of ideas.

  • Watch cat videos on youtube. Or dog videos. Any animal videos are great.
  • Color, paint, or draw. I got a pack of decent watercolors for $5 at Walmart. Crayons and colored pencils are even less.
  • Play a video/computer/tablet/phone game. I have a Wii, but even if you don’t have a video game console there are so many free games for devices. My favorite is The Simpsons Tapped Out. It has a story line, but there are plenty of basic games like solitaire and Tetris and Candy Crush.
  • Read a book or magazine or something online.
  • Watch a show or movie that you find comforting, inspiring, or hilarious.
  • Do something that requires a little bit of thought or concentration like a jigsaw or crossword puzzle. Put something together or organize a bookshelf.
  • Exercise. I don’t enjoy  exercising for distress tolerance because I hate exercising, but some people find this very helpful.
  • Replace destructive behaviors with different behaviors. Draw on your body instead of cutting. Punch a pillow instead of taking your anger out on someone else. Tear up paper. Write the name of the person you’re mad at on a balloon then stomp on it.
  • Cuddle your pets/kids/a loved one.
  • Spend time outside, even if it’s just 5-10 minutes.
  • Text or call a friend.
  • Eat one of your favorite foods.
  • Take a shower or nap.

Those are some examples of enjoyable activities to distract yourself with. You can also distract yourself by paying attention to other people. For some people it helps to focus on someone else. Sometimes it helps me to text someone else and ask how they’re doing. Other times I might write people letters or make something for someone I love (like a collage or some other craft).

If you have a good imagination or find it easy to get lost in your thoughts, you can distract yourself by thinking about other things. This one is difficult for me, but some people find it helpful. Here are some examples.

  • Imagine meeting your hero and getting to hang out with them for a day. Imagine that they are totally psyched to spend time with you, and think about what you’d do that day.
  • Pick a room in your living space and imagine navigating it if you were only 3 inches tall.
  • Envision your dream world. Sometimes when I am anxious or can’t sleep, I imagine a place in the woods where fairies live. I think about the creatures that would live there, and all the trees, plants, and dwelling places that would be around.
  • Picture the world being made of food and decide what each item would be made of. I feel like horses’ tails would be spaghetti.
  • Pick the 5 people you’d want with you if you were in a post-apocalyptic situation. It can be people you know in real life, famous people, fictional characters. Then pick 12 items you’d want to have with you.

I mentioned this in the last post, but other ways of distracting yourself are to leave the situation that is upsetting you (if leaving is possible), counting (things around you, like floor tiles or counting by 7’s to yourself or listing prime numbers), and concentrating on your breathing.

I hope this was maybe a tiny bit helpful. In the future when I come across great distraction techniques, I will post them and tag the post “distraction techniques” and “distress tolerance.”


3 thoughts on “Distraction Techniques

  1. This was extremely helpful! I’m gonna print it and take it with me everywhere I go. It started getting very imaginative towards the end hahaha. Like the “Pick a room in your living space and imagine navigating it if you were only 3 inches tall” one 😀 I really like that one. I played this Zelda game where he would go back and forth between normal and 3 inch size to advance in the game. Or the movie Stuart Little.

    The one I do a lot is imagine my dream life. That makes me the happiest, but at the same time the goals seem so hard and far away to ever attain. I try and convert this fear into motivation. I’ve been trying to find better ways of getting out of the depressive mood swings I get because like you said they can be so overwhelming. They literally feel like whirlpools because I feel all the negative thoughts swirling and making the pool bigger and harder to convince myself that these coping mechanisms actually work. It’s like the logic makes sense but the emotions don’t believe it sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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