Distraction is one of the main coping skills for successfully navigating benzo withdrawal. When we put our attention on other things, we can, even if only briefly, forget about our symptoms. It’s a good rule of thumb to busy your hands. Your mind will usually follow what your hands are doing. I distracted by learning to draw. I watched instructional videos on YouTube. I made a promise to myself to draw one picture every day. Sometimes it would take an hour, sometimes several hours. It kept my mind off of my suffering for awhile. I also gardened. My front yard became a flower garden. Being focused on my plants kept me from being focused on myself. And, being in my front yard helped me to create community as I got to know all of my neighbors. I also painted. I’m not technically a “good” painter, nor will I probably ever be. That’s not the point. The point is to be involved in the doing of something, not being invested in the outcome!
Other people in benzo withdrawal have knitted, crocheted, created hook rugs, learned to play instruments, created scrapbooks, journaled, worked word and number puzzles as well as jigsaw puzzles, organized old photos, learned to sew, and dozens of other things that kept them busy.
For those unable to do things with their hands, you can watch television shows and movies. Getting engrossed in a story removes us from the story we tell ourselves about benzo withdrawal; the worry that we will never heal. We can also read books, and be transported by the story or learn something. You may struggle with comprehension when reading. That’s okay. But if the struggle reminds you of being in benzo withdrawal, it is better to find another activity.
Everyone’s level of ability to engage in distractions will be different. Some won’t be able to focus on reading or watching television or learning anything knew. The cognitive abilities just aren’t there at this stage in their healing. Some won’t have the energy for gardening. That’s okay. Just do what you can do. And, don’t put any pressure on yourself to do things “right” or “perfect.” Enjoy whatever you do for the sake of doing it. Don’t create an outcome in your mind, simply enjoy the activity for what it is.
What is it that you can do to distract yourself from your symptoms? What can you do to busy your hands and your mind? Come up with a few things that you can do, and use these as your go-to activities when you are having a more challenging day. Instead of sitting and wondering what to do to hold on, immediately get involved in one of your distraction activities. I call these “anchors.” I had a few activities that I knew I could count on when I had an exceptionally bad day. I didn’t have to think about how to cope, I just got up and got engaged in one of my anchors. They kept me tethered to the present moment and tethered to life. Feel free to share with us what you do to distract yourself from your benzo withdrawal symptoms.