This era of our life can be hard. We try to be positive and look for the best in every day but sometimes we just need to admit we’re struggling. This week, I lost a friend, then spent several days in bed with a bug. It was the perfect formula for slipping into a deep funk.
I let myself feel just enough of my sadness and frustration to maintain a healthy grasp on an uncomfortable reality, but then I did what I always do when I need to pull myself out of the blues, I distracted myself.
Dwelling on the sad side of life for too long can really take us down emotionally, physically and psychologically. I find it’s important to have a few activities that I can turn to when the news is bad and the sky turns grey. I call them my healthy distractions.
I have a set of acrylic paints that I pull out when I feel like I need an escape. There’s something so calming about transforming a blank piece of paper into an esthetically pleasing personal expression. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. It just needs to engage me and capture my attention for a few hours to give me the break I need.
I stay active, even when I may not feel so inclined. I don’t always work up a sweat, but just moving my body seems to lift me out of my thoughts. A short bike ride or 20 minutes of mindful yoga, focusing on my balance and my breath rather than my blues, seems to relax the tension caused by an emotional situation I can’t control.
I love to hike the hills. But even a short walk, or just enjoying nature’s splendor from the right vantage point, clears my mind and helps me feel fully alive within a broader spectrum of my emotions. It’s so much easier to see life as worth living when I consciously witness the beauty of the wilderness.
If my energy level is low, but I really feel the need to escape for a while, I read. There is nothing as engrossing as a good story. I find I can lose myself in the characters’ lives and leave mine behind for just a bit. I usually choose something light and uplifting, with a satisfying happy ending.
Even a short getaway and a brief change of scenery serves to boost my morale. But there are many times I just can’t get away on the spur of the moment. So, instead of going, I plan. I research destinations that interest me, or let my imagination lead me to unfamiliar and exotic places I may never see in person.
Just looking at the photos, reading about the history and culture gives me a taste of the destination and the escape I need.
I know, everyone has something disparaging to say about Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Reels, but I find if I’m discerning in my selection, it can be quite enriching. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of outlets for healthy, active aging, how-to’s about staying fit and healthy, adopting an engaging hobby, appreciating the arts, or living an alternative lifestyle in retirement.
It’s a readily available vehicle to connect with people all over the world and explore how others are living fulfilled lives at this stage of life. If nothing else, I just take a time out and lie there perusing the pretty pictures, letting my mind wander.
Food is comfort in my culture. I grew up in a Southern Italian/American family where, at the first sign of upheaval, someone put something rich, savory and satisfying on the stove. My go to comfort food is pasta, of course, made from my Nana’s recipe and stirred with her wooden spoon. It might not solve my problems, but it gives me a feeling I’m not alone in trying.
It’s not easy to maintain a positive outlook when the inevitable happens, but if we provide respite for our minds and our hearts, doing something pleasant, soothing and uplifting, it feels possible. Carrying along a healthy dose of distraction on this ride through life, just might be a viable way to ease ourselves over the rough spots.
When do you feel the greatest need for distraction? What type of distractions help you in difficult situations? How do they stimulate you to be positive?