Distractions are often seen as a bad thing. And, in some cases, that’s 100% true. Think about texting while driving, reorganizing your desk to delay work, or indulging in unhealthy habits like alcohol or substance abuse.
However, distractions can also be a good thing when they’re conscious and healthy.
“The ultimate goal of this process is for us to be able to choose to ‘distract’ ourselves (i.e. get out of our heads, let go of our negative worries, and take a conscious break from the day-to-day stress of life) in a truly healthy way,” explains author and consultant Mike Robbins. “When our motivation is positive (we're not avoiding anything, but choosing consciously to take a break), the outcome and experience of our "distraction" is more likely to be healthy and beneficial.”
“If we're going to live a life of growth, meaning and fulfillment we need lots of healthy breaks and rests along the way, especially when things get hard,” adds Robbins. “If we don't take these breaks, it's easy to let worry, fear, negativity, doubt and the daily pressures of life take over, almost without us even noticing.”
Additionally, distractions can ease pain and help us become better versions of ourselves. They can also be used to help cope with PTSD and prevent relapse.
“Distraction often works to prevent a slip-up,” writes David Sack M.D. “When a negative emotion surfaces, our tendency is to go over the problem repeatedly and ruminate on our worries and fears.”Instead of “improving the situation, this doubles the suffering. In addition to the original concern, you have the added worry and negativity brought on by either resisting or dwelling on the problem.”
“Distraction breaks this cycle. It takes you out of your negative, unconscious, and habitual way of thinking, reduces the intensity of the negative emotion so it is easier to manage, and allows you to take a conscious time-out,” Dr. Sack adds. “That doesn’t mean you deny or run away from difficult emotions. Later, you’ll return to the emotion and process it when you’re in a better position to come up with a creative resolution.”
Another benefit is that distractions can buy you time. This could be to help fight against a craving or until you’re more relaxed.
In short, distractions can be a simple and effective way to make you feel better, rekindle your spark, and help you combat negative feelings and unhealthy habits. And, while the following list won’t work for everyone, here are 60 healthy and uplifting distractions you might want to use.
Low-effort distractions that only take a couple of minutes.
1. Watch a movie or TV -- make sure to limit yourself so that you aren’t laying on the couch all day.
2. Take a walk outside and soak-up the sun.
3. Start a load of laundry.
4. Properly clean out your coffee maker by running vinegar through it.
5. Sing along to your favorite song.
6. Dance like no one’s watching.
7. Take out the trash and recycling.
8. Send a “thank you” text to a friend, family member, or colleague.
10. Play a board game.
11. Play a game on your phone.
12. Play with your children or pet.
13. Listen to a podcast.
14. Look out the window and watch the birds and clouds.
16. Get up and stretch.
17. Apply lotion to hands and arms.
18. Take a nap.
19. Say affirmations like, “This shall pass.”
20. Give a loved one a hug and/or kiss.
Distractions that require medium effort and a little more time.
21. Read a book.
22. Draw in an adult coloring book.
23. Solve a crossword puzzle, word find, or Sudoku.
24. Write your grocery list for the week.
25. Scrub your kitchen sink.
26. Organize the files on your computer.
27. Change your bedding.
28. Call or text a family member or friend to check-in with them.
29. Take a hot shower or bath.
30. Fold your laundry.
31. Properly clean all of your electronics, like your smartphone and tablet.
32. Watch an inspiring documentary.
33. Do something childlike like swinging, hopscotch, or painting.
34. Write something creative or expressly, like a poem or letter.
35. Jot down all of your accomplishments.
36. Donate an item you no longer to someone in need.
37. Update your resume or LinkedIn profile.
38. Treat yourself to a small treat or gift, like a cappuccino or new piece of clothing.
39. If you need a new appliance, phone, or vehicle, thoroughly research the items that you’re going to purchase.
40. Take a stunning picture and share it with others.
Distractions that will take higher effort and longer periods of time.
41. Go for a hike.
42. Visit a museum.
43. Start learning something new, like a foreign language or musical instrument.
44. Go for a leisurely drive.
45. Plan to make a meal you’ve never made before.
46. Repair tings around the house like fixing a leaky pipe or painting a room.
47. Clean and organize your closet, pantry, basement, attic, or garage.
48. Rearrange and redecorate a room in your house.
49. Plan and book a vacation.
50. Visit a day spa.
51. Play a sport like a basketball, soccer, or golf.
52. Work out -- either at the gym or home.
53. Join a class, such as a cooking or writing class.
54. Become a DIYer -- here are 50 easy ideas you can try.
55. Do yard work.
56. Clean and detail your vehicle.
58. Get a head start on your taxes.
59. Meet up with friends and family, like scheduling a lunch date or inviting them over for dinner.
60. Attend an event that excites or interests you, such as attending a concert or professional workshop.