As someone who suffers from anxiety, I often use distractions as a way to cope with stressful thoughts or situations. Lately, I’ve realized I’ve been doing this a lot more to the point where I never really give myself time to sit in silence and really face my inner dialogue. I always have a podcast or show on in the background as I go about daily tasks as though needing that extra bit of company to not feel so completely isolated. I do attribute some of that to the fact that I work alone from home, but I haven’t always had to use distractions as a way to feel comfortable. It’s become much more prominent lately and I definitely see a correlation between my incessant need to have some sort of sound on and my anxious thoughts about living in a new country for the next few years.
Going forward I want to train myself to go about my days (making breakfast, cleaning the house, eating, etc.) without having some sort of distraction, so I thought it would be helpful to write up a post about the most common distractions I use to cope. Hopefully, by writing them down I’ll become much more aware when I fall back into the habit of relying on them heavily on a daily basis.
Ever since not having cable I’ve used YouTube as my main source of light entertainment when I’m sipping my morning coffee, trying to wake up, or on in the background when I’m folding laundry. However, recently, I’ve realized that it’s become a source of background noise that I just can’t seem to live without anymore. From the moment I wake up to when I’m getting ready to fall asleep I have a YouTube video on and my inability to just go about those mundane things in silence is starting to concern me. Coming from an internet addict—it’s a slippery slope. Slowly, I’ve been trying my best to not watch any Youtube videos in the mornings and just focusing on waking up so that I can start my day without the interjection of the online world. While it’s made me feel slightly disconnected, I’ve also noticed a sense of calm that wasn’t quite there before.
Food is something that I think many of us often use as an emotional crutch. I have always been an emotional eater and still struggle when trying to recognize the correlation between my eating habits and my stress. Whenever I am going through a bought of anxiety I tend to eat more out of a need to distract myself from it than actually being hungry. And it’ll rarely be healthy food that I munch on, but rather something sweet that’ll give me a quick dopamine kick and make me momentarily forget whatever it is I am stressing about. Going forward I really want to try and turn food into something that I can enjoy, but also that I see as a source of nutrition for my body and my mind rather than a easy way to feel emotionally better.
Much like with YouTube I tend to use social media to curb anxious thoughts by mindlessly scrolling through platforms rather than working on projects that actually interest me. Yes, we’ve all heard it before—social media is antisocial. But I think it goes much deeper than that; I think many of us turn to it when we feel like there is spare time in our day, useless moments, that we need to fill rather than just experiencing them for what they are. I often wonder what I used to do in those moments before social media as we know it now existed and I just can’t remember. Did I sit in silence? Did I read? Listen to music. Whatever I did then has given way now to just passively viewing the lives of others through a tiny screen and that’s kind of creepy if you think about. Going forward I want to limit the amount of time I spend scrolling when I feel like there is nothing to do and just let myself experience the discomfort of idleness.