How To Distract Yourself For Good

Distractions are great, but they might be counterproductive when used the wrong way.

Admit it now, your brain doesn’t sleep in its entire lifetime, even when you’re sleeping and even when you’re unconscious. It keeps jumping from one task to another, like a monkey. Moreover, some functions like controlling your breath remain active for the lifetime.

Image by FotoRieth from Pixabay

So, during brain-intensive tasks (which include your desk work), why would you still need a break? Well, the answer is, your brain still burns out due to the amount of stress it can bear. The resulting exhaustion hinders your productivity and your brain’s cognitive function.

The Right Way

“It’s really important to have micro-breaks, it’s something that a lot of us do naturally when we’re stressed or mentally fatigued. There’s a reason you look out the window and seek nature: It can help you concentrate on your work and to maintain performance across the workday.” — Dr. Kate Lee

Hence, in order to restore your brain to its fullest, you need a break. However, we know that brain doesn’t rest. Hence we need something else, known as distraction. Meanwhile, there are different forms of distractions that could actually make your brain relax, and put it back to focus. These include

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay
  1. Walking/Stretching or other moderate physical activities
  2. Meditation
  3. Tea/Coffee

These activities, put less stressors on your brain and improve your focus while keeping your mind and muscles relaxed. Sometimes, these activities might solve your worst problems that you couldn’t solve, and your constant focus makes them worse (more on this later).

The Wrong Way

Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay

Unfortunately, Some distractions are rather counterproductive at work. These include

  1. Scrolling through Facebook/Instagram
  2. Watching Movies/Clips/News
  3. Reading Books/Articles/Novels
  4. Gaming
  5. Doing some other mindful (focus intensive) stuff

“Doing activities that don’t rely heavily on prefrontal cortex function but rely on different brain regions instead is the best way to renew focus throughout the work day.” — Nir Eyal

NO, I am not asking you to stop reading books or watching movies. You can do them, but they are meant to be done at your free-time. And this isn’t an advice coming from grumpy HR/Project Manager, rather from a regular worker, just like you.

Breaks aren’t meant to switch your brain from one task to another. Rather, they are meant to make it relaxed and free from forced activities.


Just like your muscles, your brain needs breaks or distractions to relax, restore its cognitive functions and avoid breakdown. This can be done by walking, meditation and other stress relieving activities.

Breaks or distractions at work should make your brain free from intense focus. Hence, brain intensive tasks like scrolling through social media, reading and doing other focus intensive activities can be counterproductive.

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