The Difference Between Distraction & Avoidance

Therapy thoughts to start your week strong! The difference between distraction and avoidance is INTENTION.

Coping skills typically fall into two categories: distraction and avoidance. The difference really boils down to intentions because there is definitely overlap. Distraction is when we do something to help us cope or regulate with intention to return to face our issue. Whereas avoidance is simply numbing or running away without that intention to return.

Example: having conflict and turning to Netflix.

Distraction: you have a conflict with someone and feel a spike in emotion like anger, or sadness or shame. You decide distraction will help you bring your emotions down from a 10 to a 5. You watch a few episodes and return to have a conversation with your person. That’s distraction - it’s actually a skill to manage big emotions and cope effectively without blowing up, reacting, or impulsively making decisions.

Avoidance: same scenario, some conflict. You’re pissed or sad and start binge watching love island UK. After your tv coma you act like nothing happened or avoid the person. This doesn’t actually nurture you, it just numbs you out and your emotions aren’t regulated.

So, start by creating a list of distraction verses avoidance behaviors you engage in and brainstorm ways to intentionally regulate using distraction instead of avoidance. This is all from my emotional regulation course

️ what’s your go-to avoidance or distraction? I told you mine above #trashtv 🆒