Have you ever watched the videos where an infant becomes mesmerized by their pediatrician’s sensory distractions before they receive a vaccination shot? The baby becomes enamored by the doctor’s quick movements, gentle touches, and playful demeanor. Before they realize, the shot has been administered and the baby is still in a Zen-like state. These viral videos are flooded with comments praising the doctor for effectively distracting the infant because distractions can be good when they prevent unwanted pain or suffering. Rerouting our attention to life’s pleasantries is a common and acceptable coping mechanism.  On a personal level, too much distraction may be a sign you are avoiding yourself.

As adults, distraction coping is our best effort to pull the wool over our own eyes. In uncertain times, avoiding the most difficult feelings is a natural response. This instinct to protect yourself can sometimes lead to a pursuing a cohort of distractions. Pretending that problems do not exist can hinder personal growth and prolong facing valid fears or concerns about their life.

Distraction coping can sometimes be mistaken for having an active social life or busy schedule. If you spend a significantly more of your free time with others, you may be playing a game of keeping up with the next available distraction. The problem with distraction coping is the disconnect from ourselves that builds when we abandon our emotional island in a row boat in hopes that we won’t remember what’s happening behind us.

Looking Inwards

The art of looking inwards is the antidote to self-abandonment. Here is a list of practices to incorporate when spending needed time with yourself:

  1. Give yourself permission to be yourself.

Remember what makes you an individual. If you have been neglecting your interests, returning to your hobbies, passions, and interests can bring joy back to your life. Giving yourself permission to be yourself creates a feeling of authenticity and allows you to enjoy what you like most about yourself.

2. Make time to be present

Practicing mindfulness will allow you to respond to life’s challenges rather than reacting. Life is a marathon and not a race. Slowing down, with less distractions, can improve your ability to give yourself grace.

3. Prioritize self-care

Taking care of yourself is a restorative experience. Take care of your body through physical exercise and eating nutritious meals. Create affirmations for yourself by making a list of your best qualities. Enjoy a museum or exhibit on your own. Self-care can also include going to therapy.

If you wear many hats, your sense of identity can easily become distorted. This is why solitude is worth practicing. Time on your own can lead to growing your creativity, connectedness to yourself, and can help you determine how your life can reflect your unique individuality. A tough day might call for a serene walk through your local park or reading a book aligned with your interests. These opportunities help us process negative emotions and allow us to return to our responsibilities the next day renewed. The key to moving on from distraction coping is enjoying your own company. You are well worth it.