4 Distraction Techniques for Anxiety

Enduring my anxiety can be oh-so difficult at times but I'm steadily building up my arsenal of distraction techniques. Today I thought I'd share them with you.
Narrate your current situation.
 This is my most recently practiced technique and as a reader/writer it's one of my favourites. In my head, I'll 'narrate' my current situation as if I were writing a story. I'll focus on what's around me and try and come up with the best way to describe a certain colour or a particular person's facial features and just 'write' things as they happen to me. I exclusively narrate in the past tense - I feel that way it's almost as if it's already happened and I know that I've survived it. Sometimes it's helpful for me to narrate the anxiety itself and to explain what's happening to my mind/body and the reasons why, but a lot of the time I'll just mention the anxiety in passing without focusing on it. You can practice this technique by 'writing' in your head like I do, you could use the Notes app on your phone or you could put pen to paper and use a notebook.
Create back-stories for other people.
This technique is kind of similar to the one above but it's one I like to use when I'm on public transport. My anxiety causes me to catastrophize things and can sometimes convince me that people are going to hurt me even if they're just sitting there and are paying no attention to me what-so-ever. A way to calm myself down is to humanise the people around me and to create little stories for them. You could choose a passenger at random and name them, think up a reason why they're on this particular bus, how they feel about it and what they're going to do once they're off of it. For example: the woman sat in front of me is called Flo, she's on this bus because she was visiting her boyfriend last night and is on her journey home. Once she gets home she's going to pour herself a mug of milky coffee and binge watch Orange Is The New Black. Just try not to stare at the person you've chosen!
'Collect' your surroundings. 
This technique spawned from a game I used to play with my family when on long car trips. At the beginning of the journey we would write a list of things and it was our job to tick each of them off whenever we spotted them. The things on the list could be anything, for example: an ambulance, a woman with long hair, a specific breed of dog or a barber shop. I still do this sometimes on car journeys but it's also quite helpful when I'm out walking - I could look out for specific road signs or silly things like bits of rubbish abandoned on the pavement.  Again, you could keep track in your head but I like to use my phone or a notebook.
Notice your body and your breathing.
I touched on this technique in this post but I feel it's very relevant for this one so I'm going to over it again. It's a very mindful technique and encourages you to draw your attention inward. You could choose to focus on your breathing and perhaps try to measure each breath by a certain amount of seconds each time. Another option - and the one I prefer - is to focus on sensations. How do your feet feel inside your shoes? Can you feel where your hair touches your skin? Can you feel any breeze, source where it's coming from and notice where it hits your body? I find this technique calming as it encourages me to focus on myself and my body instead of paying attention to other people.

Do you have any particular distraction techniques for your anxiety? Share them in the comments!

If you liked this post then check out: 3 Tips For Relieving Anxiety and 4 Tips For Overcoming Anxiety.


  1. I think the last one on the list is my favourite - focusing on my breathing really helps to totally clear my mind, and I just do it for as long as it takes before my anxiety ebbs away

    Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

  2. Brilliant post. I think it's easy to distract yourself so much you don't step up to your anxiety, but when you're in public on your own especially, distraction techniques work wonders. It's just about getting that balance between being aware of your anxiety and diverting your thoughts away from that awareness.


  3. This is a fantastic post and I can definitely relate to narrating my anxiety, it helps so much!!

    Rebecca, Libfemblog.com

  4. My cat always helps me calm down whenever I feel stressed or get a little anxious. :)
    I'll definitely try these tips! Thanks for sharing them.<33


  5. The last one is something I tend to do more compared to the other 3 techniques, and I do agree that it helps calm you down! Loved reading this, Lauren, you always talk about it in a really rational and honest way. A really good post! Xx

    Life in Blue Skies | A Lifestyle Blog

  6. This is such a helpful post! I have been trying to do the last one more often when I'm feeling anxious but the first sounds as though it would be good to as you are picturing yourself getting through the situation and being fine at the end :) xx

    Yasmina | The July Journal

  7. These are really great distraction techniques. I already use the narration one, but there are a lot of others here I will be trying! Thanks for sharing x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

  8. Lauren you are literally my favourite blogger right now - i LOVED this! Love how it was different to the norm - i've seen so many posts on this topic, but they're all like "drink water, eat healthy, be happy"... so generic! The idea of finding back-stories for people is brilliant, will definitely try that :) i love people-watching in coffee shops!

    On holiday my family actually have a game "celebrity lookalike", we've found some brilliant ones over the year, in new England we found Jeremy Corbyn and Princess Beatrice :P

    Bumble and Be

  9. I never would have thought of these techniques, and I really love the idea of narration and character building. Such great ideas!

  10. I can't even tell you how helpful this post is, Lauren, thank you for sharing it! I've just been to the doctor to speak about anxiety and these techniques sound like the kind of thing I need to try xx


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