Overview: Distraction Techniques

Distractions usually tend to be seen as negative. But distraction techniques can be really positive too, especially when our mind gets caught up in a negative spiral or when we feel the urge to engage with unhealthy behaviors. Distracting ourselves by doing something positive enables us to get back on track or re-engage with more healthy behavior. It helps us get ourselves out of the loop in the moment. Sometimes it helps to chat things through with someone else as these distraction techniques only provide temporary relief from our busy minds, but they will help us get ourselves out of the loop in the moment.

The Why

Distraction is a self-soothing technique and can contribute towards changing your mood by taking your mind away from something that is making you feel negative. It works because it forces you out of your head and away from an unhealthy behavior. Positive thoughts in turn fuel positive performance.

Great for…

De-stress, Mood




Stop thinking that all distraction is a bad thing and consider it as something you can do to improve mood or healthy behaviors


Consider if you could stop doing something that you know isn’t good for you and instead do or think something that will leave you feeling better.


Think about some things that you find distracting yet enjoyable which you can do for 10 or 15 minutes. Jot them down in a list so that you can check in with them when you need to.

When you find you’re having some unhelpful or distracting thoughts that may not be helping your performance then try these short activities. They could include:

  • Taking a walk outside making sure you focus on your surroundings as opposed to what is going on in your head
  • Watching TV
  • Picking up a newspaper, book or magazine – something you enjoy thinking about
  • Listening to music – it’s always good to create an upbeat playlist for times where you need some distraction
  • Picking up the phone to speak to a friend or family member
  • Grab some food or a non-alcoholic drink
  • Do something creative like pick up an instrument if you play or doodle or draw
  • Pick up a pack of cards and play something
  • Do a puzzle or brain teaser
Key tools for you to improve your mood