This session we discussed distraction techniques so when we have distressing feelings we can briefly escape them and calm down, returning to the difficult situation thinking more objectively. Distraction is different from avoidance because avoidance involves never going back and confronting what has distressed you, distraction is where you allow yourself time to calm down before going back to the situation to solve it.
Distraction techniques are especially useful for handling self destructive behaviours. For example I have had anger management problems for years so I have a tendency to think and behave aggressively. Knowing that it is wrong to actually smash someone’s head against a counter because they’ve pissed me off I would often suppress those feelings and push away the thought of wanting to do that but the anger is still there and I feel a craving for violence therefore I self harm thus satisfying my anger without hurting anyone else. However this has had a detrimental affect on me in the long run. What may help me is distracting myself from aggressive thinking by instead thinking of something calm and happy (easier said than done)
Another way besides positive distracting thoughts is action, something that I believe does work better for me. For example last night I was having particularly bad intrusive thoughts so what I did was spend about an hour reorganising my bookshelves (I have a lot of books) this helped by diverting my attention away from the thoughts on to deciding which book should go where on which shelf; I do this whenever I’m really stressed out making my bookshelves the only organised and neat part of my bedroom.
We also looked at something called “the wise mind” which is a mental state where you are able to balance the demands of the rational and emotional mind. A way of remembering the wise mind distraction method is ACCEPTS.
A = Activities – Taking your mind off stress by doing an activity such as Arts & Crafts
C = Contributing – Doing something like helping a friend or volunteer work.
C = Comparisons- Comparing your life to someone who has it worse than you ( to be honest I don’t agree with this part, you shouldn’t really compare the suffering of anyone it’s not a competition)
E = Emotions- triggering different emotions by listening to music or watching something scary or funny to change your mood.
P = Pushing away – leaving a situation physically or mentally until you are ready to return calmer.
T =Thoughts- concentrating your mind on counting or something you like
S= Sensations – Using the sense of touch to take your mind off the distress or “ground” you. E.g. holding an ice cube (commonly used by self harmers)
My Therapy home work is based around ACCEPTS so I’m going to try out each category during the week 🙂