When something incredibly painful happens, individuals suffering from conditions such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder tend to get overwhelmed by emotions. If you are one of these people, it is important to know that it is recommended that you first distract yourself from the pain in order to lessen its effect on you. Distraction buys you time so that your emotions can settle down before you take action to deal with a distressing situation. Remember that distraction is different from avoidance in that when you avoid a distressing situation, you choose not to deal with it. However, when you distract yourself from distressing situations, you intend to deal with it in the future, once your emotions have calmed down.
For the meantime, here are six ways you can distract yourself from emotional pain:
Sometimes, the best you can do is leave, particularly when you’re in a very painful situation. Remember, if you are already overwhelmed by your emotions, recognize that whatever you may say or do will only make the situation worse, and so it is often better to put a distance between yourself and the situation in order to be able to think clearly.
2. Do Pleasurable Activities.
Do something that feels good! Oftentimes, engaging in pleasurable activities such as exercising, going to the mall, inviting a good friend to go to your house, going to the spa, going for a swim, and making fancy lists (for example, top ten celebrities you would want to have sex with and why), among others can helps calm your emotions down.
3. Pay Attention to Someone Else.
Doing something for someone else helps take attention off yourself and off your thoughts. So go ahead and call your friends and ask if they need help with something, invite someone you enjoy hanging out with for lunch (your treat), or do some volunteer work at the nearest charity.
4. Do Tasks and Chores.
The next time you’re in a situation in which your emotions have become too painful, temporarily distract yourself by engaging in tasks and chores, such as cleaning your room or house, cleaning out your closet, redecorating a room, organizing your books, CDs, computer files, and so on.