We generally think of distractions as bad things, as annoying things that get in the way of us getting ahead. Some typical examples of distractions are when we need to revise for exams, do homework, or do household chores; there is always something more appealing nagging at our thoughts to do that, whatever it may be, instead. A distraction can lead to procrastination, which is something perceived as negative.
There is always a way, however, of turning a negative into a positive. How about using distractions in an optimistic way?
When our minds are riddled with dark thoughts, when we are enveloped in despair, when we feel stressed-out and totally lacking in hope, distractions can be wonderful. Distractions can be an effective technique to change low moods. You can interrupt these negative thoughts by choosing a distraction that will divert you from them, because whatever you choose to do will call for your full attention and you will be so engrossed that you will be able to forget yourself.
Here are some suggestions:
- Pick up the phone and call a friend. Laugh. Listen. Chat. Gossip. Let yourself get lost in the conversation and you won’t even realise you are being distracted. If you are alone, hearing a friendly voice can offer a lifeline support. You can talk through your worries, and then move on to more light-hearted conversation to make you smile, or laugh.
- If you feel up to it, take one step further than a phone-call, and arrange to meet up with a friend. Face to face, physical contact may, for some, be better than a phone-call. Some people find it difficult to talk so in meeting up with friends, you can just enjoy being in the company of others. There is no need to talk if you do not want to. Sometimes just being out with someone who you love and respect and enjoy being with is enough of a distraction. Sometimes a hug, or the squeeze of the hand, can turn someone’s day from bad to good.
- E-mail a friend and try to include all the positive things you can think of to take your mind of the negative thoughts. Whilst you are online, why not browse through the My Personal Best website which, with all its positive and upbeat pages, will keep you distracted for hours! You can always register on the site and join in the live web chats which offer invaluable support. You can talk to different people who may have different ideas to suggest about ways to cope.
- Go out for a stroll! Nothing blows away the cobwebs like a nice walk, especially on a lovely day. Gentle exercise lifts serotonin levels which lifts your mood. Look around you at all the wonderful things nature has to offer and think of how lucky we are.
- Another great form of distracting gentle exercise is yoga. The deep breathing techniques combined with the long stretching and held poses is relaxing and invigorating. Allow yourself to enjoy it and unwind.
- Find a new hobby. If you are leaning something new, you will probably be concentrating more so as to improve your skills, which means you are likely to be more distracted. Also, learning new skills from starting a new hobby will make you feel more positive after achieving things you may not have though previously possible.
- Snapping an elastic band on your wrist can be a good distraction from negative thoughts, although not everyone will find this useful.
- Do something you love doing, whether it be reading, writing, painting, singing, listening to music, gardening, cooking, playing video games, doing puzzles, watching television.
- You can read books that are easy-to-read which will lift your spirits, and the same with listening to music – listen to something that you enjoy, that will make you smile, or even dance! Gardening is great because you can also watch what you have produced, from seed, through its growth, to the final product – an achievement! With writing, you could write about how you feel, get rid of those negative feelings, channel those bad emotions through your pen, on to paper, and release them. Or you could paint your feelings, or something that will cheer you up with bright colours. You could then take upload your writing or painting or take photos of your garden or something that you have made onto the My Personal Best website. Seeing your achievements will make you feel better and give others encouragement too!
- Reading positive and uplifting quotes is a great distraction and also helps lift your mood if you are feeling down. As Ozzy Osbourne said: 'The trick is to dwell on the good, not the bad. My problem is, if something goes wrong at work, I'll take it to bed with me - replay the scene over and over. But there is a cure: it's called distraction.' A quote, I'm sure, we would all be able to relate to at some time or other, and also proves the point that distraction does work in a positive way! Why not browse through the positive quotes on the My Personal Best site and write down your favourites in bright colours on flashcards? You could then put them up where you can clearly see them to distract you from whatever is making you feel bad, and to cheer you up if you so need. If you read them over and over, quotes can also be good way of reminding you of the positive things in life which may prevent you from feeling negative to begin with. Quotes really are wonderful!