The Art of Distraction

Distraction itself has two meanings; one being a thing that prevents someone from concentrating on something else, and the other being an extreme agitation of the mind. There’s a certain irony between these contrasting definitions, given that they can very easily go hand in hand. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are ‘an extreme agitation of the mind’, and as I’ve wrote about many times before, plagues every day of people’s lives.

These past 5-6 years suffering with depression have taught me that distractions are key. That doesn’t mean to bury your head in the sand and hide away your illness, but find those hobbies, interests, and tasks that can distract you from the pain these illnesses bring. It takes time, and a lot of experimentation to find what can distract you, but it’s so worth it.

For me, my distractions have been politics, writing, cleaning, and throwing myself into various projects. In general, being productive. Not only do these elements help to distract me, but the art of being productive also makes me feel better within myself, and keeps the ill feeling at bay. It’s no coincidence that when I have less productive, what I call ‘wasted’ days, I feel worse. It’s those days that depression is worse, and I struggle to function.

It’s important that everyone can find their own interests, and hobbies, and they don’t all have to be linked to productivity. If lying in bed watching movies is your distraction, brilliant. If its running, reading, video games, cooking, it doesn’t matter. Do it. Keep doing it. It’s great that you can find something to bring back some normality into life. However, don’t use it as a way of ignoring your mental health, look after yourself, and make sure you’re getting help.

Distractions can do wonders for you. It can help to provide clarity and focus, where mental illnesses create those blurs. It can help you to feel better, stronger, less stressed, and more productive. Also, be proud of yourself. Finding these distractions and interests shows that you’ve acknowledged the problems you face, the negative feelings, and you’ve made the decision to address this. It’s really helped me, and I know it will help others too.

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