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Distract! Attention!

Distraction can be a very useful tool to use when we might otherwise do something we will regret later.  So this page includes tips and links to other helpful websites, so you can use the internet to re-focus your attention.   

This page is for tips and links to how we can shift our focus of attention in a helpful way. Notice those thoughts, feelings and urges to respond.....acknowledge those experiences rather than fight with them, then choose where to put your focus of attention. 

As you "do" your chosen activity, you will notice thoughts, feelings and other distractions come into your awareness.  Just notice that, then gently bring your attention back to your chosen activity.

For help with suicidal thoughts, contact the Samaritans or visit this page.


As soon as you notice those thoughts and feelings, say to yourself:  STOPP!

Then think about - and say to yourself (or out loud), as quickly as you can...

  things you can see right now

    things you can hear right now

3   things you can touch, and reach out and touch them, right now

2     things you can smell or like the smell of

    slow, deep breath.   Then focus on your breathing, before shifting your focus of attention onto something different....

Learn effective DBT & CBT skills online -  The Decider Skills For Self Help  online course.

The Decider Therapeutic Skills online training for professionals


A more positive alternative to the usual doom & gloom


And you can do it online...




Here are some websites where you can browse and listen to music.

Make sure you listen to music that is going to help you feel better!  Choose wisely according to how you feel.  Consider calming or energising, uplifting and/or inspiring music  (more info here)


We sometimes need to really engage our attention with something like.....puzzle games!

Because the games are free, you might have to tolerate some advertising. Let me know if you find another free puzzle games site that doesn't use too intrusive advertising.


Gather items together to create a soothing emergency first aid kit or soothe bag - for the times when you're feeling distressed.

Include things you can look at, things you can listen to, things you can do, things you can taste and smell, things you can touch, things that brings up good memories...

More info here


Choose an activity to do mindfully, just for 1 or 2 minutes

Whatever you do, be in that moment, right now.  Focus your attention, and notice what you see around you, right where you are.  Listen to the sounds around and inside you.  Notice whatever you can smell.  Reach out and touch what is within reach - the chair, the floor, yourself.  Notice those sensations of breathing in your chest, your belly, your throat and nose.

Simply notice whenever other thoughts and sensations come to mind - as they surely will - then gently re-focus on our chosen mindful activity.

Be patient and compassionate with yourself.

Describe your experiences and what you notice, rather than judging them to be good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant.

It is as it is.

It will pass.



Home and garden

  • Mow the lawn
  • Clean the car
  • Do some gardening
  • De-clutter a room or part of a room
  • Purge your wardrobe (give to charity)
  • Clear out the spare room (give to charity)
  • Sweep the path
  • Cooking or baking something pleasurable
  • DIY
  • Bath the dog
  • Brush the cat
  • Clean the hutch/cage
  • Re-arrange the furniture in one room


  • Do a crossword or sudoku - puzzle books here
  • Try out aromatherapy or reflexology
  • Visit the hairdresser - try a new style or colour
  • Watch television or a DVD
  • Play on the computer
  • Surf the internet
  • Watch the clouds whilst lying outside
  • Read a novel or new newspaper or magazine
  • Walk or sit on the beach or park  

Getting out

  • Join a leisure centre or health suite
  • Nature As Therapy
  • Go for a walk or jog
  • Get the old cycle out!
  • Visit a new church
  • Go to the library
  • Visit a museum
  • Check out what movies are on
  • Go to a concert
  • Browse an antiques or charity shop
  • Find out what free classes are on offer
  • Potter around window shopping
  • Go out for lunch
  • Go to the beach - whatever the weather!
  • Learn to drive, or take a trial lesson
  • Visit a nursery, garden centre or park
  • Visit a tourist attraction
  • Walk alongside the sea, river, reservoir or lake
  • Take a bus ride somewhere new
  • Visit an aquarium or zoo
  • Visit a car boot sale
  • Visit a nature reserve
  • Visit a historical or natural site
  • Visit an art exhibition
  • Go for a drive

Being creative

Self Soothing

Making Contact With Others

  • Telephone someone you haven't spoken to for a while
  • Join a self-help group
  • Join a civil rights group
  • Do some voluntary work
  • Write a letter to someone you haven't written to for a while
  • Talk to a friend or family member
  • Phone the Samaritans or another helpline
  • Join an online support group or discussion forum
  • Email a friend

Express Yourself Physically

  • Bang a drum!
  • Scream, shout or sing loudly!
  • Rip up a phone book or newspaper
  • Dance energetically to loud music
  • Write - prose, poem, story, music, journal, diary, weblog, whatever comes into your head
  • Write a letter to someone, but don't send it - shred or burn it outside
  • Run, walk, cycle, swim, go to the gym
  • Paint
  • Vacuum enthusiastically
  • Kick a ball against a wall
  • Punch or kick a cushion or pillow
  • Cry
  • Nature As Therapy

Positive Self-Talk

  • I can get through this, I've managed before and I can now
  • I don't need to do (what I normally do), it will only make it worse afterwards
  • I can cope for another hour - I can take one hour at a time
  • These feelings will pass
  • Positive Self Talk & Coping Statement


More Self help resources

Learn effective DBT & CBT skills online -  The Decider Skills for Self Help  online course.

The Decider Therapeutic Skills online training for professionals

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