Distraction Techniques

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Distraction techniques can help you to focus on something else when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, panicked, or distressed.

Distraction techniques can be a useful and healthy way to help you to come through difficult times. Here’s a list of 10 ideas of healthy distraction techniques that you could try out (in no particular order).

1. Do some exercise

Exercise is a great way to get your heart pumping and body moving. In return, chemicals called endorphins are released which can help to make you feel better. Exercising also allows you to focus on one thing at a time, whether that be doing star jumps, running, or a dance workout in YouTube. It doesn’t matter whether you exercise indoors or outdoors but being surrounded by nature while you exercise can be really beneficial to distracting yourself.

2. Listen to something

If you can, get outside and listen to nature. You might be able to hear a babbling brook, the wind in the trees, or the birds tweeting. Alternatively, you can listen to nature sounds or your favourite happy music. It might be tempting to listen to something that reflects how you feel, but this won’t help to distract you. Throw on your favourite tunes and dance like nobody is watching.

3. Organise, tidy, or clean your space

Having a task like tidying your bedroom or cleaning the bathroom can help to be a good distraction. It also means you’re been productive and helped keep things clean and tidy, which in turn can make you feel better.

4. Play with your favourite toys or games

Whether you’re a video game fan, prefer cards, or love board games, try to play something you really enjoy. Playing with people like your friends and family can also be a great distraction.

5. Make a to do list for your day/week

Sometimes we can be overwhelmed with all the tasks we have to. Staying organised can help us to cope by helping to manage time well. Make sure you book in some time for self-care and to do some things that you enjoy too.

6. Read a book

Immersing yourself in a good book can be a great way to distract yourself. Why not dust off a book you’ve wanted to read for a long time, treat yourself to a new one, or pop to the library and borrow one. Picking up an interesting novel can help you focus on the lives of other characters, which can be a really useful distraction technique.

7. Watch a film

Watching a film is a great way to distract yourself for at least an hour, but often, up to 2 hours! Pop on your all-time favourite movie, or finally watch the film you’ve been meaning to see but never got the chance.

8. Get creative with arts and crafts

Being creative can take so many different forms. From drawing to painting to sewing to clay modelling, there’s loads that you can get involved with. Having an artsy project to work on can give you a sense of purpose and be a fun way to relax.

9. Do some homework or revision

As much as homework can sometimes be the thing we want to do least, it can be a great distraction technique.  By focussing on a subject and trying to remember key information, you’ll also be revising and improving your schoolwork too. Winning!

10. Have a shower or bubble bath

Having a shower is a great way to practise self-care and distract yourself. You can switch between colder and warmer water depending on how you feel. A bubble bath is a great idea if you’d like to relax. You can experiment with different fragrances and bath products to help distract you too.

Can some distraction techniques be harmful?

In an attempt to distract themselves from painful situations, some people do turn to unhealthy distractions techniques such as self-harm.

If you feel like this or turn to self-harm as a form as distraction, it is important to be kind to yourself and talk to someone to support you with what you’re going through.

The NHS has a free app called Calm Harm which encourages users to distract themselves from self-harm as well as suggesting healthier replacement distraction techniques to help you cope.

You can also talk to Meic using their free helpline via phone, text, or online chat daily between 8AM- Midnight.

Related Information

For more information on mental health including a list of services, visit TheSprout’s Mental Health Info page.

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