As a follow-up to my post on living A Life Less Medicated I am now going into detail on the new all-natural methods on how I am dealing with depression. This is the fourth in the series, the first being a whole foods diet, the second is undertaking exercise and the third is using essential oils.
I know when I am having a down day I find it helps when I focus on something positive instead of falling down the rabbit hole of despair. Distraction is a coping technique that can be effective in taking you mind off things that are upsetting you. The distraction method should never been seen as a cure to your problem though. I realise this could be seen as somewhat controversial as some would suggest you need to face your problems or troubling emotions instead of ignoring them.
But with depression in particular sometimes these negative emotions come from nowhere and have no reason for existence. They are just there. So I feel healthy distractions are acceptable to give you an outlet to escape them and feel happy again. And I say healthy distractions because I understand that some people (myself included) choose drugs and alcohol to use as distraction methods. Well I don’t need to go into how incredibly unhealthy for your mind and body this is, so I will leave it at that.
So how do Distractions help?
Distraction works because it interrupts your mood and forces you to “shift gears”. Many negative moods contain an element of rumination to them. When you ruminate, you go over your problem or worry again and again in your mind. Each time you go over your problem or worry, you reinforce its grip on you. Distraction breaks this grip by forcing you to think about other things. If the thing you distract yourself with is sufficiently compelling or demanding of your attention, you will temporarily stop ruminating and start to feel better. Maybe not good, but better. –Southwest Alabama Behavioural Health Care Systems)(
But doesn’t distraction contradict the concept of mindfulness? Not necessarily. You have to be self-aware to acknowledge the feeling of distress, and then choose to distract yourself mindfully. (“I’m feeling distressed, so I will focus my mind on something else until the moment passes.”)
Finding Healthy Distractions
For best results, the thing you engage yourself in as a means for distraction should be both absorbing and interesting to you. Doing this thing should either require your full attention, or be so absorbing of your attention that you will forget yourself. And do something that makes you happy. You are more likely to forget or move past your negative quicker if you enjoy what you are doing.
I love watching TV, reading a book, having a self-care night, listening to music REALLY loud, getting into the fresh air and gardening. Others may prefer detail-orientated tasks, like cooking or baking, play games like sudoku or a crossword, writing, organizing paperwork or making art in one form or another. This doesn’t work for me personally as I am a perfectionist and if something goes wrong or doesn’t work out the way I want I get even more depressed.
What distraction should I try?
Only you will know what distraction method works best for you. Just make sure it’s healthy and positive. As long as you are using distraction techniques in a positive way then I think there is nothing wrong with using it as a tool to make you happy. You just need to find a personally right balance between dealing directly with negative moods and escaping from them in order to have the best chance of healing or getting out of a funk.
I started learning and practising Buddhism and started the skin & satori website as a form of distraction. They have been great distractions for me and have created a lot of positivity in my life that I would not have if I hadn’t been looking for ways to distract my overactive brain. So that is why I included this on my list of all natural methods to help deal with depression. I hope you find this information useful in your own life! XO
What distraction methods do you use when you are feeling down?