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BLAST distraction techniques

You might find it helpful to have a go-to list of ways to distract yourself from the urge to use eating disorder behaviours, or from other difficult thoughts and feelings. Our suggestions below of distractions for when you're Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed or Tired aim to help provide distraction and ease any difficult emotions that you might be feeling in a positive way, rather than using unhealthy behaviours.

You might feel that different things to what we’ve suggested would work for you, or that tips we’ve suggested as responses to one emotion might work better for you in response to a different emotion. The best way to distract yourself will vary from person to person, so think about what you would find most helpful. It could also be worth thinking about which distractions that will be quick or require little effort from you, and which ones will be more involved, as you might also have different needs at different times.

Distractions for when you're...

...Bored
  • You might benefit from a change of scenery – go out for a walk, or even just go to a different room.
  • Read/watch a film or show/play a video game/listen to a podcast. What works best for you? You might find it helpful to try something completely new, or, if boredom makes it difficult for you to follow along with new things, perhaps having a list of old favourites to rely on could be useful.
  • Call someone you know and ask them how their day is going – they might be bored too!
  • Clean and/or rearrange your space – you’ll both freshen it up and feel a sense of achievement.
...Lonely
  • Get in touch with a friend or family member. You could give them a video or phone call, organise an activity like a Zoom quiz or, if you’re not sure you want to talk directly, you could send a text or even think about sending a letter. You might also want to have a list of people you could contact – who do you come away from conversations with feeling positive?
  • Make a list of music/podcasts/radio stations/films/TV shows you enjoy. Sometimes silence can make loneliness worse, and having something on even as background noise can help.
  • Join a supportive space online. Beat’s online support group, the Sanctuary, was set up to help people who might be feeling isolated – it’s open daily from 5pm until the Helpline closes. We’ve also got online support groups for people who want support with a certain type of eating disorder – you can learn more about these here.
...Angry
  • Is the anger caused by a person or situation that you can easily identify? If so, there may be ways you can productively address it – could you tell the person how you’re feeling? Are there ways you or someone else could change the situation?
  • Ask someone you trust if they’d mind you sharing your frustrations. We all need a bit of a vent every now and then!
  • If there’s no one you want to talk to, you could try writing your feelings down instead and, if helpful, scrunch or tear it up or throw it away.
  • Try doing something that requires concentration – you could watch a film in a language you don’t speak with the subtitles on, reorganise some part of your living space, or do some crafting.
  • Try physically but safely expressing some of your anger – for example, by punching a pillow or squeezing a stress ball.
  • Think about the last few days or weeks and write down some good moments you’ve had or things you’ve achieved. It doesn’t matter how small these are.
...Stressed
  • Think about ways you might be able to change the thing that is causing you stress – taking a short walk if you’re feeling trapped, for example, or picking a small area to tidy if your living space is messy.
  • If you have a lot to do and are feeling overwhelmed, try making a to-do list and breaking it down. What can you accomplish quickly and easily? What might someone be able to help with? Is there anything particularly worrying you that you could get out of the way? What smaller and more manageable things could you do to complete bigger tasks?
  • Try meditation, affirmations, breathing exercises, colouring, or other mindfulness techniques – there are apps that you can use to help you do this, or perhaps you could ask someone you trust to talk you through an exercise so that it feels more personal and tailored to you.
  • Try using the “5, 4, 3, 2 1” technique to help ground yourself. Concentrate on your surroundings and think about five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.
  • If you have a pet – or know someone who’d let you come and spend time with theirs – you might find it calming to pet or groom them.
  • Try switching off your electronics for a while, and/or putting them in a drawer or a different room.
  • Try taking a bath, or painting your nails.
  • Consider what activities you find absorbing – something repetitive, like knitting? Something where you can let your feelings out, like journaling? Something transporting, like a good book? The most calming activity will be different for everybody, so have a list ready to go for when things start to become stressful.
...Tired
  • Try to keep a routine with your sleeping as far as you can – if you can get up and go to bed at regular times it’s less likely that you’ll feel tired during the day.
  • The best way to help you combat tiredness is to sleep, but if that’s something you struggle with, lie down and rest when you’re able to. You could use white noise, a podcast, or soothing music to help you switch off.
  • Consider what activities you find absorbing – something repetitive, like knitting? Something where you can let your feelings out, like journaling? Something transporting, like a good book? The most calming activity will be different for everybody, so have a list ready to go for when things start to become stressful.

In general: