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How Distraction Can Help You With Depression and Anxiety

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Mental health issues are on the rise, or perhaps they are being spoken about more. Either way, they are very much on my radar, and I am frustrated at how much pain people are in.

So, I am going to share some tips I hope might help someone get through the day.

Today’s tip is a state change.

Depression and anxiety are liars. They get in your head, redecorate and take all of your focus. It feels impossible to stop looking into this deep dark hole of despair, so the thing that pulls your gaze away has to be shiny as hell.

There are examples of Tony Robbins doing this in his Netflix documentary I Am Not Your Guru. I am reading Matt Haig’s book How To Stop Time at the moment — his earlier book “Reasons To Stay Alive” was one of the key tools I used to deal with my own depression — and this quote stood out to me:

“She leaned towards me and kissed me on the lips. It was just a peck, but a peck on the lips was not just a peck. `What was that for?` I asked. I could just about see her smile in the moonlight. It wasn’t a flirtatious smile. It was a plain, matter-of-fact one. `For you to have something else to occupy your mind.`”

For you to have something else to occupy your mind.

Because that’s often what we need: to break the loop we are caught in. Something else to think about.

My wife once did this brilliantly. She could see and feel me distancing myself and so asked me a question about an experience we shared that can only be described as “graphic.” It was like being slapped! Suddenly I was back in the room, and that meant I could dig out the other tools I have to stay happy.

Drink some water, put on some music, play, cuddle, do exercise.

For a few minutes I was free, and I could then start to fight back.

We all do this without thinking about it.

One of my first jobs was as a barman. My boss said, “I don’t care about how bad you are feeling or what stresses you have in your life. When you step behind that bar, you are happy, engaged and full of life.”

There are some places anxiety and depression find it hard to thrive. I am a specialist in social media, personal branding and leadership. I have realized that going “live” on social media is a great way to change state. I am starting to think depression does not want to be in the spotlight, to be seen. It wants you to stay home, to leave the party, to be still and to stay quiet. You can try dancing or doing exercise.

Or go live on Facebook or Instagram. Film a Snapchat story. It might give you enough freedom, motivation, and clear thinking to unpack another weapon from your arsenal.

I have more tips in my book Level Up Your Teens, available on Amazon. It is aimed at teenagers, but can help any age.

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Getty Images photo via kieferpix

Originally published: November 25, 2017
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