Is distraction good or just an excuse?
“You are always distracted, pay attention and finish your school work,” this is my daily reminder to our 10-year-old son. Since school is now based at home, he gets this reminder often, and he does listen and get back to his school work.
While reading a book that night on ‘Declutter your mind,’ I read the lines, “Distract yourself, when your mind is clouded by negative thoughts, distractions help.” While the above-mentioned scenarios are completely different from each other, what struck me is whether distraction can be useful and needed?
Let us delve deeper into this.
A person who procrastinates says, “I will finish this later, there is no hurry.” Distraction for them serves as an excuse to get away from the task at hand and that can be for any reason – because of laziness, boredom and so on.
If you are doing a job or stuck in one where you feel like you’re procrastinating always, then don’t do it, perhaps, you aren’t meant to be there in the first place.
In the above-mentioned scenario, there is a possibility that my son finds great solace in distraction because his studies are perhaps, boring, he doesn’t find it interesting. There is also a possibility that he just wants to waste his time instead of focusing on his school work. In the latter case, distraction isn’t useful.
When Distraction Can Be Useful
The reason why we crave distraction is something each one of us has to figure out for ourselves. There are moments in life when everyone needs that one distraction to take their mind off things. I have a challenging time with my mother and sometimes, it happens that I do end up losing my cool with her.
During that time I seek a distraction to move away from the present moment, but I have realised that it is not going to solve the matter at hand; it is only patch work, providing a temporary relief from a momentary situation.
But If we’ve had a heated argument with someone we love – may be your spouse – then distraction can be useful to help get your mind off the negative situation only to return to it when we have calmed down. In this case a distraction helps to settle the mind, take a breather and even gain clarity.
Healthy distraction can be a good thing (not when you are driving of course), to lead a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
How can we ensure that distraction serves its true purpose, and we do not get carried away? Here are 5 ways how distraction can be useful.
“All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate.” ~ Julio Cortázar
Distraction can be useful to reduce pain
When children fall sick and are low on energy, distracting them with may be a play or a joke, books, or some toys, helps to ease away the discomfort and brings joy to them. This is when distraction helps, and it may also help in their recovery.
Even adults suffering from severe chronic pain, need distractions to ease their mood and bring some lightness to their day or else the mind is only focused on the pain. In some cases, healthy distractions can also help the healing process. Research too suggests that distraction reduces pain.
Distraction gives a break from doing focused work
When you are doing any kind of focused work, for example writing an article, and you want to finish this article, but you get stuck while writing, you don’t know how to proceed further.
Getting distracted will bring you out of the rut – so going for a walk in your neighbourhood or watering the plants or doing anything that you fancy, and then coming back to writing will help to refocus and finish your article.
Distraction can be useful to nourish the soul
The current times are difficult for many of us – be it emotionally, financially or mentally, and the fact that everyone is at home at all times due to the lockdown. Apart from coming to terms with the situation, there is little we can do about it. A healthy distraction helps us to figure our way out and sail through these tough times.
For us, we found solace in our daily evening hike to a hill, which is fortunately, just across the road. This daily evening ritual cleanses our mind and rejuvenates our spirit. The beautiful sunsets, wind blowing across the face and the calling of the peacocks, these varied elements put together set a new tone for the day – of hope, courage, optimism and determination.
A distraction like this is good, if it nourishes the soul, and helps you escape reality for a bit. Pick one that feeds your soul and do it regularly when you are tired of the mundane.
Distractions provide a fresh pair of eyes
When you are too much into your head, overthinking and overanalyzing everything, get out of your head and breathe. Take a conscious break from the routine and the daily stress.
As mentioned in the earlier point, do something that you like, absolutely anything that gets you out of your mind but in a healthy, meaningful way. In fact distractions also allows us to break the habitual patterns that have been rooted in our minds.
Distractions can be useful during workouts
Listening to music, podcast during workout sessions, jogging or running can boost your endurance levels as you end up paying less attention to the intensity of the workout.
Few ideas for healthy distraction
Here are few ideas to get purposefully distracted, only to return to the real situation feeling more charged or reset your mind.
Walking in the forest, gardening, singing, pursuing your hobby, art – drawing, painting, playing with children or pets, meditating, reading. The list is endless…
As someone rightly said, “A distraction doesn’t pull you away from your primary goal, but it reveals your true desires.”
Choose your distractions wisely, as it is too easy to get distracted by things that don’t serve you – long hours on social media, online games etc., instead always make the time to say hello to the sun, it will brighten up your day!
Do you use distractions to grow or escape? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.