Distraction Can Work. For A While

Lockdown 4.0, week 2.

Melbourne, winter of 2021. Temperatures are dropping, the days are short and there is a storm from Antarctica about to unleash a month’s worth of rainfall in a couple of days.

I can leave the house only for 5 reasons – shopping, health and care, exercise, and getting a vaccine. That is what Stage 4 lockdown looks like. Melbournians should know – it’s our 4th! As one of my colleagues described – we are dealing with the trauma of lockdown 4 while working through the trauma of the first one.

But this time authorities learned. They know that minimal interactions between small groups of people are not only possible but necessary for wellbeing. So ‘bubble buddies’ and partners can visit however and whenever they want.

With my bubble buddy, it means movie nights. Every second day!

We are burning through Netflix, Stan, DVD collections, and Australian free movie apps. I started planning a list of movies to watch, anticipating the excitement and fun, forgetting I only have 5 reasons to leave the house.

So many times I was puzzled by people choosing to run away from their frustrations and pains. To me, dealing with them directly always seemed much more productive than postponing problems by drinking with friends to get over the heartbreak or sticking to a job where you are bullied.

The thing is distraction works. And well, for that matter. Why focus on your frustrations and heartaches, when you can choose a relief of whining to your friends, or fun of the movie nights?

Distraction is alluring. It’s fun. Until it stops working of course.

Until I remember that I can’t visit my family for another year. Or that I can’t leave the city to be in nature. Or when watching movies becomes boring and I need another distraction.

But I won’t scoff at distraction as an emotion management strategy again. If it helps me survive and even enjoy 2 weeks of lockdown, I will take it and figure out later how to manage the 3rd week.