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Photo of someone playing a piano in the open air in a park

Distraction is a very simple way to alleviate anxiety. I use distraction techniques with my hypnotherapy clients in order to move them away from worrying about a problem and concentrating more on a solution. And this is something you can do by yourself.

Anxiety makes you focus on the bad stuff … or the stuff that might become bad. And that motivates you to do something about it. Most people will be able to remember a time when they had loads of stuff to do in a short period of time and just felt stressed or anxious about it. What is happening is that your brain is anticipating bad stuff happening to you if you don’t get it all done … so it makes you stressed or increases your anxiety. This motivates you to get everything done, and, even though the stress doesn’t feel good, you don’t suffer the consequences of not getting everything done in time.

The trouble is that the same mechanism is in play if you can’t do anything about it, or if the primitive part of your brain is hyper-sensitive and makes you stressed and anxious about nothing. You might worry about your car breaking down – but if you have had it serviced properly, there is nothing more you can do, so stressing about it doesn’t help. The primitive part of your brain doesn’t understand this and may get you to worry about it It just doesn’t understand that you have done everything you can already.

So if your primitive brain is getting it wrong, one way thing you can do is distract yourself. Distraction is a great technique that you need in your tool box.

Find something that you enjoy doing – the more it absorbs you, the better. Maybe you can get lost in playing a musical instrument , or in a good book or maybe you get totally absorbed when playing a sport – it doesn’t really matter what it is. If you find yourself getting anxious about something, take yourself off and do your distraction activity – play the piano, go for a walk, watch a film, recite a piece of poetry – anything different that will move your mind to something else.

Now, I can guess what your thinking … it’s only temporary, and the anxiety will come back. And of course, you are right … to an extent. Anxiety is a sort of vicious circle – anxiety creates more anxiety. So the more calm time you can give your brain, the easier it is to break the vicious circle the next time.

Distraction is just one technique in your anxiety-busting tool bag. Most people will need other techniques too. Just remember, if what you are doing isn’t working, do something else … anything else.

If you are having trouble coping with anxiety and stress on your own, you might like to consider getting help. I help people with anxiety get their lives back under control. I use hypnotherapy to help reduce or eliminate the anxiety and get rid of those unwanted symptoms.

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

Tim Maude

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