Distractions get a bad rep. Most of the time, conversations about distractions go something like this: “Distractions just keep people from facing their problems/fears head-on,” “distractions are unhealthy,” “he/she is too distracted,” and so on.
But for those recovering from eating disorders, distractions can be a key part of refraining from giving in to disordered thoughts and behaviours. Feeling guilty and ready to panic about a meal or a binge? Considering purging, using laxatives, or chewing and spitting your next meal? Thinking about weighing yourself? Find a distraction. Channel all of your anxious energy into a neutral activity.
I’ve been an artist my whole life, and I never once considered art to be an “escape”. It has always been a form of expression for me. Instead of journaling my feelings, secrets, and fears, I drew them. It wasn’t until I started seeing my dietician, who had art by her patients covering the walls of her office and waiting room, that I ever considered using art as a coping mechanism. Since then, I’ve developed a new (new to me, that is) style of art – highly detailed, time-consuming “doodles”, as I like to call them. Putting all of my energy into creating these intricate drawings has been a tremendously effective distraction.
Healthy distractions can be any activity or hobby that requires your full attention and mental energy. For example, painting an intricate design on your nails, knitting, doing a crossword puzzle, baking cookies, and so on. How do you distract yourself when the seemingly-overwhelming urge to engage in disordered behaviors hits? Let us know in the comments section below!