Before we begin, how have things been?
Last week we looked at Problematic Thoughts, Twisted Thinking and Identifying and Breaking Negative Thought Patterns.
Hopefully you found it interesting and there have been loads of new ideas to put into practice during the week.
This week we’re going to look at Distraction Techniques, Positive Psychology and Social Media.
Before we go any further let’s do our Drill Review for last week.
- How did you find applying the Vicious Cycle to your thoughts throughout the week?
- Did you find it more useful to capture Problematic Thoughts in the moment or did you need to use the written technique for more challenging thoughts?
With all that’s going on in our lives and the world around us, life can feel intense.
It is important to have a selection of tools and techniques to help us shift focus and put our attention on something else when thoughts are at their most bothersome.
These are called Distraction Techniques.
You will already have many distraction techniques. Some of these techniques may be healthy and some unhealthy.
When using distraction techniques, intention is important.
We need to be able to give ourselves permission to take a break from our worries and stress, to allow intense emotions to lesson before we engage with them in a healthy way. The idea is not to avoid or escape those emotions altogether.
Whenever you feel emotions are building, try giving one of the following healthy distraction techniques a go:
- Mindfulness: Helping focus on the present moment and using a range of techniques to achieve a calmer mind.
- Physical Activity / Exercise: Whether it be a brief walk, stretch, jog, kicking a football around or cycling around town, 30 mins of exercise 3-5 times a week has been scientifically proven to improve mood.
- Mental Work: Sudoku, puzzles, word searches and quizzes can provide a useful distraction as you have to focus.
- Cleaning and tidying: Taking time out to clean or tidy your living space can be a great way to distract yourself from negative thoughts. Additionally, people often find that having a clean & tidy living space helps them feel more prepared to face challenges.
- Talking/ Socialising: Meeting up with friends and talking with others can really help take our mind off other things as well as being good for our mood.
However, when distraction techniques are used to avoid or escape responsibilities or emotions altogether, the tricky feelings can build and worsen over time.
When our difficult emotions remain unaddressed, we are vulnerable to them lingering close to the surface and emerging at any time, especially when we feel under pressure.
Whilst it’s important for us to be able to give ourselves a break from the stress of life, some distraction techniques are unhealthy and can have lasting negative effects on our physical and mental health. For example:
- Unhealthy consumption of food
- Drinking alcohol
- Drug misuse
- Seeking or becoming overly engaged in social or relationship drama
- Obsessive engagement in work, phone use, social media, watching TV, gaming, etc.
Discuss with your mentor now any distraction techniques you may already use when you are feeling low, sad, worried, nervous or stressed.
Do you feel your distraction techniques are healthy or unhealthy? Do you use them consciously with the intention of addressing those tricky emotions and responsibilities later on?
Now write down 5 positive distraction techniques you would like to use when feeling low, nervous or irritable and note these down. Try to use them consciously through the week when you need a mental break.
Distraction is a skill and it requires practice. It is no different to learning an instrument or a new language. You will become better over time.
Remember, distraction isn’t about burying our head in the sand or ignoring a problem, it’s about being equipped to give the right amount of attention to a problem at the right time.
Next, we’re going to take a look at self-esteem & confidence, starting with the following video.
What does self-esteem and confidence mean to you? How would you describe your own self-esteem and confidence? Have a discussion with your mentor now.
When we want to improve our self-esteem and confidence, we do so by making some changes in our life. Whether this is our routine, the people we surround ourselves with, our job, our habits or even our home.
Whatever we choose to change, we must be consistent. Rome wasn’t built overnight! I bet you’ve heard that one before. But seriously, it wasn’t. You can improve your self-esteem and confidence; it just takes time.
Please determine three areas where you may feel you lack self-esteem and confidence and write these down.
Have a chat with your mentor to find some of the ways you can improve your own self-esteem and confidence. See what most resonates with you and the goals you set in week 1.
Now, let’s note down three changes you can make in your life to improve your self-esteem and confidence. Whichever you pick, you must make a conscious effort to be consistent. Consistency is KEY when we want to make a change. Try to make sure changes are realistic, even if that means only making a small change at first.
When you are suffering, do you have empathy for yourself and do you take action to try and help yourself? Are you kind to yourself? Have a quick chat with your mentor.
We can work on our self-compassion by carrying out many different practices. Some examples include:
- Treating yourself as you would treat a friend
- Accept love and kindness from yourself
- Speak and think kindly of yourself
- Forgive yourself for mistakes you have made
- Engage in activities you enjoy
- Take care of your mind and body
- Respect yourself
- Pay attention to where your passions lie
- Cultivate acceptance for yourself and the things you cannot change
Our connected world through social media means that we can keep in touch with family and friends in different time zones, receive emails and notifications at any time of the day and order a food delivery which arrives on our doorstep within minutes. In fact, we can use our phones to buy a new wardrobe, view a new flat, gratify our deepest fantasies and track the functions of our bodies in fine detail.
We can easily absorb ourselves for hours through a screen no bigger than a shoe.
How does social media and technology impact your life? How does it make you feel? Have a discussion now with your mentor.
Think and make some notes with your mentor now about the positive and negative aspects of your relationship with technology and social media. If you don’t use social media, think about your relationship with technology as a whole.
It might seem that social media is painted in a bad light here. Social media does not have to be a bad place. It’s a big part of creative and social life where we can connect and learn with others. The internet allows us access to never ending learning and education.
We just need to know how to use it correctly so that it does not have a detrimental effect on our mental health and wellbeing.
- Using social media and the internet responsibly
- Hit the unfollow button on anything that brings you down
- Limit screen time
- Remember, likes do NOT determine self-worth
- Turn off notifications and set out specific times in the day to address them
- Don’t get caught up in mindless scrolling
- Remember not to compare yourself to what you see on social media
- Give your phone a rest one to two hours before bed.
- Limit the number of platforms you are on
- Be mindful of your feelings
- Do not overshare information
Turn off, tune out and be unavailable. Do you feel like a slave to your machine? Write down and discuss with your mentor what a social media detox might look like to you.
We don’t often take time to reflect on our achievements or the things we are proud of. Write down 5 things about yourself that you are proud of or are happy about. This could be achievements, positive changes you have made or something about who you are as a person.
This week we learned all about distraction techniques and how they can help us during times of crisis. We also explored self-esteem and confidence and the importance of self-compassion. Finally, we learnt about social media and how it can affect our mental health and wellbeing.
Being more mindful of the ways we can be more responsible when using social media can help our overall mental health and wellbeing.
As ever, well done! Loads to take in here but you’re smashing it getting to this stage of Bazaar.
During the next week, if you find yourself feeling low, anxious or stressed, consider some of your chosen distraction techniques from today’s session. Keep a note in your journal how you feel before and after. Maybe stick some post it notes around the house to remind you too?
Each night, one hour before you go to sleep, put your phone on aeroplane mode. If you’re feeling brave, set it to aeroplane mode two hours before you go to sleep. During that time, engage in something you enjoy. Whether it’s reading a book, doing something creative, tidying your room, sitting quietly, writing in a journal or doing absolutely anything else that does not require your phone.
Practice this for a week and see how much of a difference it makes.