Many of us who suffer with a mental illness find ourselves with intrusive thoughts. These can be thoughts of how we are not good enough, thoughts to self harm, suicidal thoughts or other unpleasant thoughts. They can be hugely distressing and difficult to manage. A big part of dealing with these thoughts is using distractions. These are things we can try to do to take away from the unpleasant thoughts. I have had to use distractions a lot to deal with intrusive thoughts and thought I would share some of my favourites.
1. YouTube – When things are particularly difficult and the thoughts are very loud, I like nothing more than to put my earphones in and watch something on YouTube to distract. It tends to take my mind away from everything I am dealing with. Some of my favourite youtubers to watch are Miss Anxiety, Tom Fletcher and Jim Chapman.
2. Origami (or any arts and crafts) – I am not the most creative person at all but have found origami a good distraction. Having to concentrate on the instructions seems to pull my brain away from the intrusive thoughts. I imagine other arts and crafts activities would have a similar effect too. Plus you will have something to show at the end of it too.
3. Playing with pets – Animals can be a great distraction. Most of the time they are calming (unless they are jumping on you while you try to write a blog post, as is currently happening). I love playing with my two cats and they always make me feel better. As did my guinea pigs when I had them. Animals are highly therapeutic.
4. Pinterest – I have a love for Pinterest and it is one of my first go tos when the thoughts are bad. I love looking up things on there and it soothes my mind. I can look up quotes, scenes from my favourite films or TV shows or just pictures of bookcases (yes it sounds sad but I find it very calming looking at pictures of books). Pinterest is amazing. Check it out.
5. Listening to music – I hear a voice on top of intrusive thoughts and when this gets really bad I distract using music. I normally have it on reasonably loud (please don’t deafen yourself) and choose something I can focus on the lyrics for and what they might mean. I find this way I am really focussing on the music. Podcasts can be useful for this too.
6. Writing – I couldn’t leave this one out. Writing can be a useful tool to distract or to get all your thoughts out of your head. It doesn’t have to be for any particular purpose. You don’t have to share it with the world. I know its not ideal for everyone and there are times when I just can’t write but finding a way to express yourself can be useful.
So those are just a few ways I distract from intrusive thoughts. I would love to hear if you have any other suggestions. Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter.