Yes, distractions can be healthy! There’s a saying, “Energy flows where attention goes.” What does this mean and if we are distracted isn’t that taking our attention away from something we’re focusing on? Absolutely! Where we direct our attention is what we invest time and energy in. However, sometimes we invest ourselves in something we shouldn’t be focusing on. This is when a healthy distraction becomes beneficial.


Examples of this would be focusing on a craving or negative thoughts. Focusing on a craving opens potential for addiction relapses, while focusing on negative thoughts could result in an emotional downward spiral of depression or anger. These end results could also lead to further self destruction and poor health (mentally, physically, and emotionally). When we feed these negative urges with our attention, they grow bigger and bigger until they consume us.


Instead of running in circles or fighting the internal battle within ourselves, just simply turn your attention to something else. It’s a very simple concept, yet extremely difficult in the heat of the moment. So how do you catch yourself before you fall? Prepare a list of simple enjoyable tasks/activities that require your attention in order to be completed. This way, when you’re already facing internal struggles, you won’t need to think of a solution to pull you out. Just do something on your list.


Here’s some ideas for healthy distractions:

  • Expressive Writing – Keep a journal and write every thought and feeling you have. Don’t worry about grammar. Don’t worry about spelling. And who cares about handwriting. Just write!
  • A puzzle – Table puzzle, Crossword, Sudoku, matching games, strategy games.
  • Take a walk –  Walk outside, feel the sun’s warmth, look at the purity and simplicity of plants, observe your surroundings, breathe the open air.
  • Clean your house – Aside from redirecting your focus, there’s a satisfying and peaceful feeling that comes with a clean surrounding.
  • Organize something – If your house is already clean, organize!
  • Do something creative – Draw, paint, color. If you don’t know what to make, just draw shapes in different colors. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re creating.
  • Read – Read something you enjoy, of any topic. Some people say they aren’t readers, however, if they find something to read that is of their interest (even if it’s gardening, cooking, or sports) it becomes more enjoyable.
  • Play music – Just sit and listen to your favorite songs, bands, or genre. You might even get up and dance!
  • Meditate – Focus on deep breathing and be still.
  • Stretching – You’ll feel great after!
  • Play an instrument – Whether you know how to play one or not, you can always learn.
  • Have a snack – This doesn’t mean binge or eat your feelings. Something healthy will do the trick. Adding nutrients to your body will feed your brain and balance your mood. Plus it’s yummy!
  • Exercise – Go to the gym, run, ride a bike, or go for a hike. Any form of movement and fitness should do the trick. It’s healthy for your mind and body.


Practicing and incorporating healthy distractions can be a great method for anger management as well. Before you make haste irrational decisions, redirect your attention towards a task or activity and you will notice your anger subside.


If you are struggling with addiction, depression/suicidal thoughts, or anger management, please seek help from a guidance or health professional. If you are a resident of San Diego, CA (or it’s surrounding cities), please contact us for advice and assistance.




Where science meets the steps: the new science of addiction. (April 3, 2014). Psychology Today. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from

Using distraction as a way of coping with emotions: distraction techniques can help you keep strong emotions in check. (January, 22, 2009). Health. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from