Distraction from Depression Can be a Healthy Coping Skill
Distraction from depression is a great way to cope with the mental illness. Yes, distraction can be considered a bad thing. It can keep us from focusing on the right things and from achieving our goals. But I’ve found that distraction from depression is one of my best coping tools. Here is how distraction helps with depression.
Why We Need Distraction from Depression
We need distraction from depression because our thoughts determine our feelings. Therefore, it follows that our depressed feelings come about because of our depressed thoughts. If all we are ever doing is thinking depressed thoughts, all we will ever likely feel is our depressed moods.
I often tend to ruminate. I will obsess over events, things said to me, and things I’ve said to others. I can get caught in a thought loop where I think and think about whatever is bothering me at the moment and has captured my attention. My mind tells me that I need to “solve” this problem. Yet when I’m reliving mistakes I’ve made, there is nothing to “solve.” The constant dwelling just makes me feel worse.
When I can distract myself with enjoyable, productive activities, I find that my mood improves greatly. And I’m not the only one. Studies show that:
“. . . the use of distracting activities as a means of coping with depression has been shown to have a more positive influence on the management of depression and to result in a greater reduction in depression than the use of more self-focused or introspective activities such as journal keeping or identifying positive and negative adjectives that describe one's current mood.”1
When to Use Distraction from Depression
Yes, it can be good to deal with our depressed thoughts. By repressing and denying our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, they can increase and come back stronger. It’s healthy to recognize, release, and challenge what we are feeling. Yet, there comes a point when we’ve released our feelings and are merely reinforcing negative, depressed thinking. It is then that distraction from depressed thoughts can become a wonderful tool.
But using distraction from depression and our depressed thoughts by eating indulgently, drinking alcohol, and binge-watching TV for hours on end is the wrong way to cope with depression. While these activities may feel soothing at the time, if we participate in them on a consistent basis, they leave us isolated with poor nutrition, hangovers, and lack of exercise.
For more on distraction and depression, please check out my video on using distraction to cope with depression.
- Blumenthal, JA, Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression. NCBI, Accessed May 16, 2018.
Sedas, M. (2018, May 17). Distraction from Depression Can be a Healthy Coping Skill, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2018/5/distraction-from-depression-coping-skill