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Productive Distraction

When I first got sober, I made a very valiant effort to fight my way through all my doubts and cravings. I mentally prepared myself. I was ready! I could do this! But I didn't take into account hours that I used to have a drink in hand becoming so excruciatingly long. I didn't take into account how difficult it would be to engage in other activities, and how much of that time I would spend dwelling on everything.

So, I distracted myself. My number one distraction tool? Food. I snacked my way through the hardest moments. I snacked my way through cravings, and irritation, and sadness. At first the physical aspect wasn't too bad. I had stopped consuming thousands of calories in alcohol every day, but I slowly and surely exceeded my previous calorie intake and started gaining weight. Not only that, but I was replacing one unhealthy habit with another. I knew I couldn't eating my way through sobriety, and I didn't want to start up any other unhealthy habits, so I decided to just suck it up and power through... Can you guess how good that went?

Here's the thing - distractions aren't bad! It's okay to distract ourselves during tough times. It's what we distract WITH that matters. Think about things that we as Americans typically distract ourselves with. Things that we do when we're "bored". What are they? We eat, we drink, we watch movies, we play video games, we sit on our phones or computers, maybe we read... most things we do aren't that healthy! So we have to incorporate things that are. We have to find healthy productive distractions.

What are productive distractions? Typically they are things that better us or enhance our lives. Reading a personal development book. Exercising, walking, lifting weights. Engaging in a new hobby. Playing games or connecting with our families. Finding a community or group we are interested in. Learning a new skill. Spending time outdoors.

Instead of spending time snacking, I started spending time playing with my kids. I started investing in those relationships. We played ultimate frisbee, went for hikes, played monopoly, and just enjoyed each others company. Over time, my productive distractions broadened. I invested time in my marriage and myself and started helping others too. Now they are no longer productive "distractions"... they are just a part of my life.

And I could not be more thankful.


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