What it is
Distraction tools are any activity that turns our thoughts away from an emotionally triggering or stressful situation, and helps us focus on something different and less distressing. It can be an escape from reality for a moment, and helps give us space before coming back and addressing an emotional challenge, when we feel more ability and strength to manage it.
How it works
Distraction tools are effective because they are healthy ways of going into the numbing mode, as referred to in the mindfulness skills section. Our brains naturally want to numb because they get tired of being in the problem solving mode continually. When a problem gets too overwhelming it can be beneficial to take a step away from the problem for a little bit in order to decrease panic and pressure into making quick decisions. And when we need to come back to a problem sometimes the break away from it allows us to come back at it with a new perspective.
When to use
Distraction tools are best used when you are in an overwhelming situation or emotional state that you need a break from. Or when feeling pressured to make a fast decision on something that needs to be thought out. Distraction does help us get out of a difficult emotional situation quickly, and therefore helps us to feel better in the moment. In reality distraction is avoidance, and the thing about avoidance is that the problem is still there when we get back. But if avoidance is needed for a short time in order to regroup cognitive strength then it can be beneficial. Just know that the purpose is to be able to eventually come back to the problem or situation feeling a sense of being refreshed.
Listening to music or a favorite song