Meet Distress with Distraction

In times of distress, sometimes the kindest thing we can do is distract.

Distraction is a coping strategy where we shift our attention away from distress, and towards something else.

Depending on what we choose, this shift of focus can help us take the pressure off, lower distress levels, lift our mood, and express tension and emotions we’re holding on to. Distraction gives us a moment of reprieve where we can experience a contrast to the present moment.

Some forms of distraction offer an initial sense of relief like binge eating/drinking and scrolling social media, but have a negative after-effect. This after effect could be exacerbated distress levels, poor sleep, low mood, or spiralling and feeling bad about ourselves.

Other forms of distraction may take conscious effort to engage in, but have a positive after-effect, like a yoga practice that helps you breathe more deeply through the day, or spending time with a friend and feeling grounded for days.

Sometimes distress is accompanied with a sense of urgency, where we feel like we need to keep working until we figure it out, or we need to resolve a conflict, even though the conversation is looping and emotions are running high. The thing is, that when we’re distressed, our cognitive and emotional functioning is comprised, meaning we aren’t the best problem solvers or communicators. A moment to step away and engage in distraction, might just be the secret trick to recharging and returning to our problems when we’re actually ready to.


Distraction Check-In
This Moment is Temporary
What Are My Options?

What Can I Try?


Take one step at a time. Once you’ve chosen a distraction keep guiding your awareness towards it. If the distraction you've chosen is useful, lean in and savour it. If it doesn’t work, stay curious and try something else. We are all learning and ever day is different.

If you are someone who connects with movement, distractions that involve your body may be more useful than others. If you are someone who connects with creativity and ideas, distractions which engage your mind may be more powerful for you.


Distraction Ideas

  • Walking in Nature

  • Cooking/Baking

  • Listening to a Podcast

  • Painting/Drawing

  • Consciously using Social Media

  • Gratitude Journaling/Writing a Letter

  • Eating your Favourite Meal

  • Having a Shower/Going Swimming

  • Pampering Yourself

  • Playing a Video Game

  • Learning a New Skill

  • Practicing Yoga

  • Going for a Drive/Bike Ride

  • Watering your Plants/Gardening

  • Doing a Guided Meditation/Relaxation

  • Watching a Movie/Reading a Novel

  • Going for a Run

  • Grocery Shopping/Doing Life Admin

  • Checking in/Catching up With Friends

  • Rearranging your Space/Cleaning

  • Dancing to a Song/Listening to an Album

  • Going of for Coffee

Distract with Me

The next time you're feeling distressed, stay kind and get strategic by exploring distraction.