What about when there’s too much going on and having to deal with your emotions is just too much?
Your anxiety is through the roof, maybe it’s the middle of the night and you’ve suddenly woken up worried about all sorts of things – or maybe the kids have driven you to distraction. Or there is simply so much on that you cannot possibly sit and breathe and be with your emotions.
What do we do then? That’s when distraction is a fabulous tool to have! Think about distraction like you would with a little kid who is having a little meltdown.
You’re going to want to distract them with something that is not going to be destructive for them or for your relationship going forward. For example, if you distract them with ice cream all the time, then they’re going to want ice cream all the time when they’re upset. And in fact, they’re going to get upset so they can get ice cream and it all becomes a messy drama, right?
You need something that is going to be big enough so that they’re actually distracted away from their emotions. If you’re out somewhere and they start to have a meltdown and you say, “Oh, look at the car over there.” and they don’t care about cars, they’re not going to be interested.
It has to be big enough to grab their attention. Perhaps, “Oh, look at that dog over there. I’ve never seen one like that before. Have you ever seen one like that?” Or maybe, “What is this leaf? What is this underneath it?”
Something that is intriguing and that starts their little minds going in another direction. Then the distraction has been helpful for them and for your relationship with them and it helps them build resilience.
It allows space between the emotions so they can find a moment of calm. And in that space of calm, it becomes possible to start to process and understand what was actually going on.
We can do that with ourselves too. When we’re filled up with all those thoughts and anxieties and it’s like, “I am not going to sit and breathe. You’ve got to be joking.”
That is when we can do things like distract ourselves. We all have ways to do that, for example with cooking – but instead of cooking Chocolate Chip Cookies and eating the lot (which is easily done when emotions are high), we can choose to cook a healthier version so we are nurturing our whole self – not just indulging our emotions. Or we can go and have that bath that we love. Or we can watch TV, something that we really enjoy watching.
It doesn’t matter what it is that we are using to distract ourselves. It’s not necessarily going to be something that is, say a fabulous meditative process, (although it might be). But it does need to be something that is both helpful in the moment and nurturing over time. Sometimes we might need to get those feelings out first. For example through drawing, or maybe even having a bit of a tantrum.
But the core of what you want to do is just to distract yourself so you can get far enough away from your emotions for them to start to settle.
And then you can start to do things like go outside and sit and breathe. Getting into nature is always going to be both relaxing and energising – especially in these times. The energy of the sun, the energy of the earth, the vitamin D, the warmth, everything about it is nourishing.
So take advantage of outside if you can – it is a wonderful place to practice Mindfulness. Simply because there is always something, grass or a flower or a tree that you can focus on and breath with.
But, if you can’t get outside, sit inside but be aware of the ground that is always underneath us, the sky above, that there’s more to the world than what is going on for us right now.
That’s what we need to do, keep remembering that no matter how big the problem is, it’s actually just this moment in time.
And that’s what distraction can give us. A way to come back to the present and be able to remember that this will pass. That given time – and maybe only a few hours – this will no longer be the huge problem it seems.
So make a list of useful distractions. Pop it up on the fridge and don’t be afraid to use them!
******** This was written with the intention of helping you to live your best life, I would love to hear your thoughts on this, And if you think someone else would enjoy it please feel free to share it around. *********
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