Author Topic: Distraction 101  (Read 455 times)

[Buddie]

Distraction 101
« on: July 18, 2020, 03:49:52 am »
I believe one of the more powerful tools for dealing with the unpleasantries of withdrawal is through Distraction.  Very simply, distraction is the ability to deliberately put your concentration on some task.  The more completely one can do it, the less of your concentration that is available for worrying about withdrawal-related stuff.

It's a learned skill like most mental endeavors, but with some time and effort it's pretty amazing how much one can achieve.  It's not just a useful skill during withdrawal.  It can help you anytime the going gets tough and you need to find a quick mental respite.

I'm hoping that we can begin to assemble some good ideas and resources for those wishing to master the art.  Please share how distraction has helped you, and the approaches you've used to help you learn to distract more effectively.

Here's what I believe to be a well-written article that also contains a long list of possible distracting activities.

https://withdrawal.theinnercompass.org/coping/distractions

Let's add to the list!  Reading and writing are effective distractors.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Distraction 101
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2020, 05:32:35 pm »
Creating a Safe Space

The constant bombardment of withdrawal symptoms (physical/mental torture) is difficult to bear.  A day or two - no real biggie, but week after week, month after month...   Resilience is often in short supply.

So how to rise above the din?

I have a safe place that I can go.  It's not a real place, yet it is.  It's an imaginary beach north of San Francisco that I created some decades ago.  I go walk or sit there sometimes to find peace/calm.  It's a very real place for me replete with surf, sand, seagulls, fog, salt-air, seashells, sunsets, dunes and an endless sea stretching out to the west.  During low tide, nondescript people dig for muscles.  There's even a shovel in case I want to build a sand castle or fort.

It's such a real place for me that I'm pretty fully immersed in it when I'm 'there'.  Unlike real beaches, this one's always open (and free).  The weather is whatever I want it to be.  Serene, stormy - whatever I need.  In Harry Potter vernacular, it's my room of requirement - there when I need it (and how I need it).

Can such a place help you?  That's the $64k question, but there's little harm in trying and it's a fun distraction.  There are no rules except to make the place 'real' so that it can become a fully immersive safe haven for yourself.  Mine's a beach, but yours could be a mountaintop or a NASCAR race or even a brothel (this is truly a non-judgement zone).  You can put slot machines in your limo.  You can put a ferris wheel out back.  Beautiful people can serve you exotic drinks (all drinks are on the house and none will rev you up). 

For those who game, it's your very own Skyrim with all cheats enabled.

I encourage you to give it a try.  Build your own Disneyworld.  Make it everything you need it to be.  Share what you've created and how it helps you.

I'm going to go spend some time out by the tide pools.  Tons of neat things there.  Almost always find some starfish.  Se ya!
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Distraction 101
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2020, 07:25:52 pm »
I find walking to be a distraction for me.Mostly after starting to practice mindfulness,I have so much broken from my feelings.When they are present it is easy to let them be in the background.
For me moving the body is a great distraction.
Having a plan of daily activities and strictly following it helps.Creating specific time for this forum helps to forget about withdrawal symptoms abit.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Distraction 101
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2020, 08:11:55 pm »
Oh that list of distraction activities is good!  [...], very good advice.  I like the safe space in the mind too.  I have a few go to places that I will conjure up when I am specifically trying to calm myself down and that plus breathing slowly, helps me immensely. 

So as far as my goto distracting activities, a very good active one is singing.  This is a good one if you are feeling very angry and full of energy.  There is something about singing, like karaoke style, that your body has a hard time staying angry.  I do this with my son, and we have lots of fun doing this. 

For annoying, repeating, anxious/angry thoughts, I have a few goto audiobooks about philosophy or a few other topics, though your calming story might be different.  I basically pay as much attention as I can to the audio book.  Basically I put that into my head, and the other annoying thoughts go away.  I use this to go to sleep frequently. 
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Distraction 101
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2020, 09:22:01 pm »
Thanks badsocrof! That is very good!
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Distraction 101
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2020, 05:17:39 pm »
Trigger Alert:  This is an article on triggers.  It might activate some of yours

A Trigger on Every Corner (more ramblings from BSR)

A trigger is anything that elicits a response.  A lot of people in withdrawal try to reduce exposure to negative triggers, but do we???  Letís look at two possible triggers: gun violence and a doorknob in your home.  Gun violence is obviously a very emotional topic for many people.  Doorknobs donít tend to be on most peopleís conscious radars. 

Itís pretty hard to live in the US for multiple decades and not know somebody who hasnít been affected by gun violence.  Letís imagine I have a friend (Ted) who lost a family member (Alice).  My mind now connects Ted or Alice with gun violence and death, and the thought of either of them brings pain.  But the mind doesnít stop there.  It knows several Teds and several Alices and anytime it thinks of any of them, it connects with the death and the emotion.  Ted is bald, so now all bald men remind me of Ted -> Alice -> death.  Alice had a pet chihuahua, so now all chihuahuas (and maybe all dogs) remind me of Alice.

One of the other Teds has a new red Nissan Pathfinder, and you recently rode in it to do some shopping, then had a rough afternoon.  The mind had again (unknowingly) connected with ĎTedí, and now it has created a new connection between red Nissan Pathfinders and Ted which ultimately connects to the emotional death.  Again, the mind wonít stop there.  Any red car, any Nissan, and possibly any car may now elicit a response.  Itís often covert.  The actual conscious thought of Alice may not arise.  But the emotional system gets disturbed.

During your shopping trip, you visited a Home Depot where Ted bought a new doorknob for his front door.  You have a mental image of it sitting in the back seat of the car.  You guessed it - now Home Depot and doorknobs are connected with Ted who is connected to the other Ted who is connected to Aliceís emotional death.  Yet again, the mind doesnít stop.  Home depot is a big store and there are a lot of big stores.  Worse yet - you have a doorknob in your room - and itís even the same color!!

Understanding these relationships helps a little.  Good distraction skills can help you cope.  However, I think the long-term solution is forming new neural networks so that a doorknob can connect to something other than a bad experience.  Weíll visit that topic eventually.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2020, 04:12:51 pm by [Buddie] »
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Distraction 101
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2020, 03:56:58 pm »
this thread is a great idea..I literally go to my garden and check on my veggies....or we have a dip property with a laneway to the back..lots of nature back there. Its calming and centering.
Literally taking your shoes of and putting your feet in the grass or dirt..back to my garden..hands in the dirt.
Weirdly laundry. folding it. doing dishes by hand... its the warm water.
Basically anything sensory.

[...]..although your triggers analogy is theoretically sound...the imagery of the examples you chose can be a bit much for those of us still in the early months of recovery  ;)
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Distraction 101
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2020, 04:11:42 pm »
this thread is a great idea..I literally go to my garden and check on my veggies....or we have a dip property with a laneway to the back..lots of nature back there. Its calming and centering.
Literally taking your shoes of and putting your feet in the grass or dirt..back to my garden..hands in the dirt.
Weirdly laundry. folding it. doing dishes by hand... its the warm water.
Basically anything sensory.

[...]..although your triggers analogy is theoretically sound...the imagery of the examples you chose can be a bit much for those of us still in the early months of recovery  ;)

I worried about that, but I had to make a connection and didn't want to get political.  I guess I could add a trigger alert to the trigger post.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Distraction 101
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2020, 05:40:57 pm »
Something my therapist taught me: Lightstream technique.

Basically, you visualize yourself surrounded by the color you find most beautiful. Itís a light emanating from your body. For me my color is sunshine yellow. I visualize this color emanating from my heart and surrounding my body. I imagine the calm and warmth I feel. Sometimes I imagine myself like the depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe or as the Buddha as I find that imagery beautiful and calming.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Distraction 101
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2020, 07:07:57 pm »
Following
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.