Menu Close

The Benefits of Mental Distraction for Those in Addiction Recovery

woman reads and drinks coffee

Addiction recovery is a time when we can begin processing some of the thoughts and feelings that we suppressed for so long. Many people who struggle with addiction find that alcohol or other drugs serve as a “solution” to life’s problems – but substances only mask these problems rather than provide healing from them. If you’re ready to begin your journey to mental, physical and spiritual wellness, you’ll find in therapy some beautiful techniques for both working through tough emotions while also finding safe alternatives to use if you’re not quite ready to confront your emotions yet. Life coach and self-help author David Bonham-Carter defines mental distraction as, “…The technique of focusing on something else when your mind is preoccupied with anxious thoughts that are not proving productive.” At times, we may find that our minds conjure up thoughts that make us feel depressed, angry, guilty, etc. – and in these instances, mental distraction may serve as a better tool in the meantime, especially if we are unsure of how to process those thoughts and feelings immediately. There are several ways you can practice mental distraction:

  •    Do something that requires mental stimulation, such as playing chess, doing sudoku, etc.
  •    Get moving through exercise
  •    Begin a hobby or activity that you’re interested in, such as playing an instrument, starting up a scrapbook, and more
  •    Focus on your immediate environment and take in all the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures
  •    Begin working on a project that would be useful to you, such as cleaning

A 2016 publication by the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre in the UK explains that mental distraction is a part of cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT. Mental distraction can reduce rumination and is much more effective than suppression, which tends to happen when we push down our thoughts and feelings, never appropriately addressing them. Until we’re able to address underlying concerns related to these thoughts and feelings, we can begin taking productive approaches to managing discomforting thoughts through mental distraction.

Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers an integrative and holistic approach to treat substance abuse and a wide variety of addictions, as well as underlying mental health and psychological issues. All of the addiction recovery programs offered by The Arbor are designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit leading to a lifetime of sobriety, health and wellness. If you’re ready to find healing and restoration in a peaceful, loving environment, please call us today at 844-560-7269.