By Wendy J Olson, Healing Coach + Founder and Executive Director of Grit Plus Gumption

4 minute read

Do we have too many distractions?

May is Mental Health Awareness month. You probably already knew that, but if you didn’t, welcome to it. 

I’ve been focused on my mental health a lot lately. Ya know, for the last four years. But more intently in the last nine months. My family has been in crisis mode, one disaster after another. We’re ok, but we’re learning what grief looks like and navigating our way through it.


One sure fire way to get through a difficult time is to hyper-focus on something else. In the early months of our storm, I reorganized the entire house. There wasn’t a bin on sale that didn’t get put into my cart. Sure, our house is much more organized and things look nice, but ultimately it was a distraction.

A few months down the road, still deep in our tsunami, I discovered a love for plants. Mostly thanks to Chasity Cordell and her Plant Therapy class we hosted in December. (More to come on this next month!) I am now a plant mom to….I don’t know how many, but a lot of house plants. Which I have to say I have kept alive. Go me.  While fresh oxygen and beautiful greenery now don our bookshelves and window nooks, ultimately this too was/is a distraction.

Nothing a nice ZZ plant won’t fix!

Sure I can get involved in grief projects like none other. Hell, it’s how I started Grit Plus Gumption! And while some of these things are good and worthy endeavors, it’s got me thinking:

How many distractions do we have in our modern world?

I have a very close family member that loves to get lost in their phone. Stressed? Nothing five hours of researching the perfect hiking boot won’t cure! Clearly we have different priorities.

So are we TOO distracted? Is this why there is a mental health crisis? I mean, I’m positive it’s why people think therapy is reading an Instagram post from a licensed mental health professional. 

It’s not, by the way.

We are too easily distracted because there are so many different ways now to BE distracted. The computers we carry in our pockets. 

The endless opportunities for streaming. You never run out of anything to watch!

The movies, the online shopping. Pick your latest addiction.

And what happens when you’re asked to be still, to be quiet….? If you’re like the dozens of women who have asked about my silent retreats then you freak out. You may not think you could be quiet for 8 straight hours, but you’d be wrong.

Our bodies and our minds need a break. The brain is a nasty female dog. The brain will lie to you and open wide the doors and gates for those pesky intrusive thoughts all the live long day. They’re coming whether you want them to or not. So why try to distract yourself from them?

My therapist gave me great advice this week on the subject of intrusive thoughts. She said, ‘Your brain tries to make meaning of these things. Help your brain close the loop.” For me this looks like self-talk, saying things out loud to acknowledge that while, yes, I have thought of that, I can also answer that thought with something more helpful…like the truth.

I may think to myself that I am gaining too much weight, or I have way too many wrinkles. (It’s from having kids by the way!) But I can say out loud that my body is beautiful and it is good. And those wrinkles just mean I’m more wise than I was without them. And I can bless my body and I can quiet my brain. That B%&# talks too much anyway.

What about you? How are you distracting yourself these days? And how can you stop and face the music in a healthy way that grows you instead of stunts you?

Wendy J Olson is the Founder and Executive Director of Grit Plus Gumption Farmstead, a 501c3 nonprofit. She also works as a healing coach, facilitating the Allender Center modality of Story Work, (Narrative Focused Trauma Care. ) She walks with women through their stories of past hurts and traumas, guiding them to freedom and healing.

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