What are Distraction Techniques and How Do They Help Depression Sufferers?
Distraction techniques are basically anything that can take your mind off whatever is distressing or troubling you. The idea behind using them is that a person can't be thinking about more than one thing at a time. A fantastic distraction technique is actually as simple as doing a jigsaw puzzle - this is because jigsaws are one of the few activities that use both sides of the brain and are an excellent way of coping with conditions such as depression. Also there is the natural high when one has completed the puzzle and it can be a very time-consuming exercise which is ideal if one is in hospital for long periods or stuck at home unable to work.
Examples of Distraction Techniques in CBT
Further examples of techniques used in distraction include what Briers (2009) refers to as 'sensory awareness' and distracting mental tasks. A sensory awareness technique may include flicking an elastic band around the wrist, holding an ice cube in the hand or stroking a pet while distracting mental tasks may include learning a rhyme, memorising motivational quotes or tongue-twisters like 'she sells sea-shells on the sea shore.'
Using memo or flash cards can also be a useful means to distract one's self with positive messages or memories of happy experiences such as holidays or personal achievements, reminding you that things will improve again.
* How May CBT Help Improve Sleep?
* How Can I Reduce Anxiety?
* What is Resiliency?
Benefits of Distraction in Depression Recovery
There are many benefits to using distraction as part of a recovery program, these include: mental respite or 'time-out' from having to think about your problems, passes the time, provides an activity/structure to the day, if undergoing intensive therapy then distraction can be a vital means of staying 'safe.' Key to remember is that distraction should not be a long-term, avoidance strategy but a short-term tool to get you through the difficult periods and provide a valuable alternative to negative coping strategies such as restricting food, over-exercising or self-harming.