The Truth About Distraction: Why It’s Not a Sustainable Coping Mechanism
Distraction can be a tempting coping mechanism. When you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, it can be easier to tune out and distract yourself with mindless scrolling, binge-watching, or other activities that provide momentary relief. But the truth is, distraction is not a sustainable or effective way to deal with life’s challenges.
Here’s why: when you distract yourself from difficult emotions or situations, you’re not actually addressing the root of the problem. You’re simply avoiding it. This might feel good in the moment, but it won’t make the problem go away. In fact, it can often make it worse, as the more you avoid something, the more it tends to loom large in your mind.
The key to dealing with difficult emotions and situations is to face them head-on. This takes courage, but it’s the only way to truly overcome them. When you allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your emotions, you can begin to work through them and find solutions. This is where true growth and healing can happen.
So, what can you do instead of distracting yourself? Try practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the moment, without judgment. When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, take a few deep breaths and focus on your breath as it enters and exits your body. Notice your thoughts and feelings, but don’t judge them or try to push them away. Simply observe them with curiosity and compassion.
Another helpful technique is to practice self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would a good friend. Acknowledge that everyone struggles and it’s okay to not have all the answers. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.
Remember, distraction may provide temporary relief, but it’s not a sustainable way to cope with life’s challenges. The key to building mental resilience is to face difficult emotions and situations with courage and self-compassion. When you do, you’ll find that you’re stronger and more resilient than you ever thought possible.
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about empowering women to take control of their mental health by finding balance and inner peace in the midst of perfectionism and anxiety. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a concentration in Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice focused on helping high-achieving, goal-oriented women. She currently serves women in California and Oregon (CA LCSW# 66634 and OR# L13328).