The idea is to divert your attention by focusing on something completely else. The rule is simple: concentrate when you want to do anything. Distract yourself when you don't want to do anything. Distraction has a terrible reputation. It's been called everything from "frivolity" to "obfuscation". But it doesn't have to be destructive. In fact, distraction can be a very useful tool for self-restraint. By distracting yourself from an unwanted impulse, you can change its nature from an urge to an action.
The method works because distractions take up mental space and force you to think about something other than what you're trying not to think about. The more distractions you can throw at your problem, the more likely you are to solve it.
Here's how it works: when you feel like thinking about something that isn't good for you (i.e., an unhealthy obsession), find something that is good for you instead. So if you want to restrain yourself from eating chocolate cake, watch a funny movie. If you want to stop thinking about someone who annoys you, go for a walk or call your friend. Doing something else with your mind will break the connection between your thoughts and their outcome and will help you resist them.
Coloring, writing, going for walks, playing video games, watching TV or movies, talking with friends, sleeping, listening to music, visiting the 7 Cups group chat rooms, playing with pets, hanging out with family, meditation, deep-breathing exercises, exercising, painting, doing crafts, are all ways to distract yourself.
Distract yourself by doing something else while staying focused on what you want to accomplish. It may help to divide your attention between several activities at once. For example, if you were trying to write a paper, you could listen to music while reading an article online about your topic. Or, if you're having trouble stopping thinking about something negative, watch a movie or television show that's funny or entertaining.
Try different methods to see which ones work for you. With practice, you will find ways to distract yourself that do not involve using drugs or alcohol.
If you are having difficulty focusing, maybe it is time to see your doctor or psychologist. They may be able to suggest some strategies that will help you focus at work and at home.
How to Get Rid of Something You're Thinking About
6 Ways to Stop Obsessing Over It
8 Ways to Reduce Distractions and Improve Concentration
Deep breathing should be practiced. Deep breathing is one technique for dealing with stress, which may help you control your mood and minimize impulsive behavior. Focusing on your breathing might also help you distract yourself while you overcome the impulse to behave rashly.
Distraction techniques such as listening to music, watching TV, or reading a book can be very effective in preventing impulsivity. Using the television as an example, if you are trying to resist an urge to shout at someone, then turning off the TV and going for a walk or calling a friend are both ways of distracting from the impulsive act.
Finally, avoid or limit your use of alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and drugs can make you more likely to engage in behaviors that you later feel guilty about. For example, if you drink too much, it will be harder for you to think clearly and make good decisions; this is why it's important to know your limit. Also, don't use drugs like cocaine or amphetamines, because they increase feelings of anxiety and irritability. These drugs can actually enhance impulsive behavior.
So, prevention is the best way to deal with impulsivity issues. If you realize you are feeling impatient or acting without thinking, then take time out to relax and focus on your breathing. This will help you regain control of your emotions and minimize impulsive behavior.