10 distractions for an anxious mind

Having an anxious mind can be exhausting. In the long run it can make us unproductive and, overall, it’s just not much fun. 

Distraction can be a useful tactic for coping with anxiety. Redirecting your mind away from something that is causing you to feel worried, or stressed, allows you to relax enough that you may then be able to process it better. 

Anxiety tends to start off as something small and slowly swell until it becomes overwhelming. In some cases, this can even lead to a panic attack. Distraction can help to stunt your feelings of anxiety before they reach this form of peak. 

Focus on a task

It doesn’t have to be a complex one. In fact, it is more beneficial to opt for something small, like making a cup of tea, or reading a few pages of a book. If you don’t know where to start, write all of the tasks you need to do on one page. When your mind is already overloaded with stress, it isn’t beneficial to take on something complex, but a small task might help to direct your focus away from the subject of your anxiety. 


Yoga, in particular, is a great outlet for those suffering from anxiety. The practice of yoga involves breathwork, meditation and relaxation, all of which contribute to the union of the body, mind and spirit. Studies show that physical exercise helps to eliminate tension in the body and promotes healthy cognitive function. 

Do some housework

Friends character Monica Geller taught us all the meaning of ‘stress cleaning’. This one in particular works for me. Doing something productive will not only take your mind off of your anxiety, but also leave you with a sense of achievement afterwards, therefore leaving you in a more positive state. 

Play a puzzle

Again, this shouldn’t be something mind-blowing. A crossword might help to redirect your attention, and once again leave you in a more positive mindset when you complete it. 


Grab a sketch pad and express your creativity. Even if you’re not a natural artist, tracing a few shapes and concentrating on the lines might offer a much-needed distraction. For some people, anxiety can manifest as nail biting, or picking. Doodling is a great supplement for keeping your fingers busy, instead. 

Water your houseplants

If, like me, you are a borderline plant hoarder, you have a great excuse to take yourself away for a few minutes to water them. If you don’t have pets, a houseplant is a great example of something that you can nurture but is relatively low maintenance. This is also a great justification to offer your partner as to why you need to buy more houseplants. 

Drink some water

They’re not joking when they tell you that the answer to everything is to drink more water. If you are at a high level of anxiety, drinking a glass of water will force you to regulate your breathing and therefore calm you down a little. 

Light a candle

love scented candles. I’m almost as obsessed with them as I am with houseplants. The smell is soothing in itself, but I also find that watching the flame dance is quite therapeutic and a welcome distraction for a few minutes. 

Go outside

Fresh air does you good, as my mum used to say. Cabin fever is very real and can have a big impact on your anxiety. So, go outside. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birds sing, feel the crunch of leaves beneath your feet and if it’s raining, look up at the sky and feel the raindrops land on your face. 

Phone a friend

We are a social species by nature. Isolating yourself will only serve to make your anxiety worse. Even if you feel like you want to be alone, consider that it might make you feel better to speak to a friend. It doesn’t have to be about the anxiety you are feeling, it can be about anything, but human interaction will often help to reduce anxiety.

I hope that you have found this article useful. You might enjoy this entertaining compilation of the best ‘Monica The Perfectionist’ moments in Friends.

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