With your plans on pause, it’s tempting to immediately try to convince you that things can get better.

But we both know that hearing things like “it gets better” or “hang in there” might provide a temporary boost at best, but it takes a lot more than that to make life better.

If I said it was going to be easy, you would probably say that I was lying or naïve. Let’s be honest with each other. There will probably be some hard work ahead. I hope it will be worthwhile, meaningful, fulfilling, uplifting, and possibly transformative work… but it is going to take effort.

However, there is no need to jump right in after putting plans on pause.

It’s a good time to take a break.

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions are searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

– Maya Angelou

Procrastinating… My kids do it when they don’t want to go to bed. My dog does it when our walk is almost over and she wants to stay out longer. It’s so natural, it might seem pointless to offer guidance.

Actually though, I’m asking you to put off doing both things you already want to avoid and things you might be interested in right now. That’s a bit harder than only avoiding something you don’t like, but I have some suggestions.

We’re going to figure out the best distractions that will work specifically for you. This way you don’t have to go through a long checklist of possible activities or listen to me come up with random ideas.

“Play allows us to develop alternatives to violence and despair; it helps us learn perseverance and gain optimism.”

– Stuart Brown, MD

Note, these are not endorsements, just ideas to get you started

Free Rice

At freerice.com you answer questions in subjects including math, chemistry, geography, vocabulary (available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian) and more. Each right answer generates 10 grains of rice donated to the World Food Programme.


While doing research for this mini-course I stumbled on INCREDIBOX, where you make music using cartoons and loops.  Since then, I downloaded it and recommended it to my brother and friends. I’ve played it on flights. My kids have played it…

5 Minute Crafts

The YouTube channel for “5 Minute Crafts” has a huge collection of tips, tricks, life hacks, and (of course) crafts. Possibly instructive, but definitely amusing.

The Memes Page

The Memes page on Facebook is self-described as the “world’s official source for memes.” I haven’t independently verified that, but given that over 21,000,000 people follow the page, I’ll bet you can find an amusing post or two.

“Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.”

– Ellen DeGeneres


Sometimes my mind just gets going on something and won’t stop.

That’s a good thing when I’m trying to solve a problem, or work on a project.

It’s not such a good thing when feeling suicidal. Putting on my favorite headphones to listen to a calming playlist, or treating myself to a brownie can break the cycle in my head. Sometimes it’s just easier to meditate or call my therapist after taking a break.


In the concept of safety planning that is discussed more in Step 6, distraction is a primary tool used to stop a crisis.

The therapy intervention DBT has been incredibly successful at decreasing suicidal risk. One of the keys is teaching distress tolerance skills. The purpose of those skills is not for resolving a crisis, but for tolerating high intensity periods. Those skills include distraction (by activity or thoughts) and self soothing (calming by engaging the five senses).

The purpose of Step 2 is to provide specific examples of those types of distress tolerance skills and generate ideas for future use.