Are You Using Unhealthy Distractions to Relieve Your Stress?


August 7, 2020

During this time of increased anxiety due to Covid-19, many people are finding they are using more distractions to make them feel better. Maybe it is indulging in a vice, like food, television, or social media that has you distracted. Unfortunately, this can lead to unhealthy habits that can be hard to break.  

The first step to breaking free from these distractions is understanding why you use them in the first place. Noticing when you feel anxiety is an important first step. What is the trigger? Many times feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and uncertain can trigger feelings of anxiety and stress.  

The next step is recognizing what you do when you feel a trigger. Most of us do not like feeling uncomfortable, so we try to either dismiss those feelings or find something that will make us feel better in the short term, hence…distractions. We look for food to soothe us, a Netflix binge to entertain us, or social media to help divert the attention from ourselves. We are immediately rewarded, and we temporarily feel better. This potentially becomes a vicious cycle in which bad habits can be formed and reinforced.  

Unfortunately, trying to feel better by using distractions and bad habits can unintentionally sabotage us and cause more anxiety in the long term. How do we find ways to make ourselves feel better when we are faced with negative feelings?  

  1. First, acknowledge the feeling and name it.  
  1. Second, think about what healthy coping mechanisms you can use instead…deep breathing, meditation, going for a walk, reading, listening to music, or calling a friend, to name a few.  
  1. Third, plan ahead of time so when you feel like using a distraction, you have a list of other options at the ready.  

These three simple changes can make the difference between using distractions to your detriment and using healthy coping skills to your advantage.  

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