My need for distractions began, like with my disorders, at a very young age. I would come home and the first thing I would do was go to my room and listen to music to escape the torment of bullies and to stop their vicious words from going around in my head on a continuous loop, completely destroying me and driving me insane. Here is a small list of distraction techniques that I use when I’m going into situations that cause me distress like travelling and when I begin to feel run down my by depression and anxiety:
Music/iPod – I like to listen to a lot of the artists featured on my favourite bands & artists list from week one of Blogtober. If I’m at home I will have them on whilst I write up posts that make me incredibly sad to rehash or they will be on whilst I take some time to just lay on my bed and breathe. If I’m out and about I will charge up my iPod the night before to make sure it has enough battery to last the length of my travel time or for however long I may be in a particular shop.
Movies/Programmes/YouTube – Sometimes music isn’t enough and I need a visual distraction. This is when my favourite movies come out and I watch some of my favourite programmes on Netflix or I watch some of favourite YouTubers listed here.
Tapping – We had a session where the facilitator taught us about tapping pressure points. You start at the top of your body and you use two or more fingers to tap parts of your body to a particular beat. You make your way down, tapping various pressure points and repeat until you feel calm. You can even say positive affirmation with it for something like “I am not afraid of x, I am in a safe place” as long as they follow the same beat – like when making up a rhyme.
My phone/Kindle – As with movies/programmes and YouTube, sometimes you need more than background noise to feel calm or, in cases like mine, safe. My phone allows me to have a physical distraction if I’m waiting for someone and they are late (I’m always early too due to my anxiety issues which doesn’t help in this case). I also always have it on me so I can keep in contact with my parents as I rely on that contact to keep me from driving myself sick. Along with my phone, my Kindle allows me to talk to my friends who are available about how I’m feeling and it also provides other forms of distraction such as access to YouTube, games and music.
Breathing techniques – Again, this was something were taught in one of our group sessions. There are a few but the one that seems to be working for me when I’m coming down from having a panic attack is the one where you breathe in for a count of, say 8, and then out again for a little bit longer. It helps to steady my breathing and allows me to get enough oxygen if I have been hyperventilating.
Continuing on this list but as coping methods, these are some of the signs that I am getting more anxious than usual.
Bouncing my leg – I could be sitting down or on my bed and my knee will bounce up and down. I also have a habit of tapping the sides of my feet against each other or the soles of my feet.
Rocking – I’ve has a habit of doing this since I was a kid. According to my mum I used to rock back and forth in a corner if there was a thunder storm outside. This still happens but when I’m feeling like I can’t cope.
Thumb twiddling – I do this a lot when I’m watching TV. I’ve found that it happens if I’m watching a distressing scene or if I feel myself getting emotionally involved with a movie or programme.
Nail biting – This is a habit that, fortunately, I have been able to kick. It used to be that during term time at Primary School, High School and even college I would be constantly biting my nails because I was constantly worrying about what my peers were going to do or say to me.
A lot of the techniques described above for distraction only help me in the short term or when I’m coming down from a particularly bad episode and have no energy to even move. Oftentimes I have to get to a point where I’m relaxed enough to even think about doing them mindfully – something I will touch on at a later date. To further relax myself I will take a hot shower with some of the products I listed last week.
I think that is is for now; nothing else is coming to mind… Oh! Writing. I do a lot of writing too. Not because I want to have content for my blog or for my website but because it helps to take my mind off of whatever is causing me distress.
I’d best let you go for now, this post is long enough hahaha. See you tomorrow for another post!