Distraction: An Effective Tool Against Anxiety

Welcome to our series for anxious people who have an oversensitive alarm system, whose “danger scanner” is always on, and who need a little bit of self-care and positive emotional energy by mid-week (when the tanks are starting to approach depletion). 

I post a lot about the first trick against anxiety, my very favorite, breathing. I’m like a broken record about it. In this post, we’ll move down the list. The second quickest trick is distraction or redirecting your thoughts. Let me briefly introduce you to the theory of competing thoughts. 

Our brains have a limited capacity to consciousness. Only so many balls can be kept in the air at the same time and only a limited amount of information can fit into one stream of awareness at one time. So, it’s almost impossible to have and sustain two thoughts in your mind at the same time. 

Kind of the same way, as the body, cannot be tense and relaxed at the same time. So, if we are experiencing a negative line of thinking and we cannot shake it off with a positive re-frame, the next line of defense is to distract the brain with a positive and productive activity that involves a different type of brain focus. 

Action steps:

  • Make a list of preferred activities
  • Print it
  • Post it in several places where it can serve as a reminder
  • When negative, ruminating thoughts hit, go to the list and start engaging in one of those activities

The purpose of the list is that you don’t have to think about it, you just start doing it! 

Possible ideas:

  • Read a very exciting book
  • Find a new workout video on YouTube and try it out
  • Push-ups, sit-ups
  • Paint
  • Color intentionally
  • Wordscapes, Crosswords, all sorts of other game apps (interior design is my favorite)
  • Declutter a corner of your house
  • Yard work
  • Paint your nails
  • Pinterest for recipes
  • Get out of the house and grab a coffee

The next time you feel the anxiety start to rise, try one of these distraction tricks and let me know how it worked for you! 

I am delighted to announce the launch of my “Own Your Happiness” membership focusing on ADHD, Anxiety & Stress, and Relationships. By becoming a member, you will gain access to a wealth of valuable resources, practical skills, and additional information that I typically only provide during private sessions. If you’d like to get on the waiting list and find out more about it when it’s ready to be launched, just add your email RIGHT HERE.