IN ALL THE WRONG WAYS!
This is such a huge effector in our society - and a huge cause of most of our problems. Instead of "relieving us", it makes things worse!!!
TV, computer games, browsing, meaningless activies... all killers of life!
REMEMBER THE BASICS OF LIFE
Our physical body, including our brain, is always seeking homeostastic balance, where low functioning is no longer a threat to survival. It MUST solve the "problem" of the perceived threat to its survival - and it must solve asap the BIG threats. If one has distress, including highly anxious thoughts, the body/mind must solve it in some way. If we are not aware, knowledgeable, and trained (or we have no system) to handle this well, we will use the same old ways as the primitive brain selected - "substances" that numb us, escape, avoidance, chemical relief such as with eating, distractions, diversions - anything we can come up with that will lessen or distract the distressed mind that believes it is under threat. The impulse is often huge and you cannot resist it, but you can learn ways to solve it that do not have other costs and/or are more efficient or effective. Of course, in all cause-effect chains, the most effective solutions are often earlier in the chain. If one revises and replaces the false beliefs that create a faux threat, then one would not experience the anxious thoughts nor the distress of having an unsolved threat. This is the approach called "cure the cause, instead of just the symptoms". That is the first thing to do. Then, if we haven't done that and we are actually caught up in the distressing thinking, we must have "at the ready" ways to lessen the distress that will not have harmful side effects or cost us too much.
ARE THEY THE RIGHT, WORKABLE WAYS?
It seems that we spend so much time seeking relief in ways that we believe will do the job but don't - at least not in the best way.
Something looks like it will be hard to us. Just thinking about it causes "pain" (emotional type).
We feel "nervous" or "anxious" and we "can't stand it" any longer (which is not really true, though, as we can "think" and spot the false generalization and not leave it in place).
These are all forms of "stress" (including fear), for which we have evolved to act on - but the chemicals that cause us to act to relieve stress can be uncomfortable - and if we "can't stand" discomfort, then we seek relief before we have solved the cause of the stress - so we don't solve and "get to" repeat it over and over and over, in a form of "hell" that we inflict upon ourselves, unknowingly.
We have two main choices:
1. Not incur the fear, stress, and/or anxiety in the first place (which works for most fears)
Here, we might not create the situation that causes the stress or we might go earlier in the chain and straighten up and correct the beliefs that cause a faux threat.
2. Handle the fear, stress, and/or anxiety in a more workable way.
Part of the complex of things that cause us to go off and seek relief in an ineffective way is being in the mode of Discouragement - which you must solve quickly, cutting it off as soon as possible, as it will easily and effectively lead you down the wrong path.
BUT...THE HIGHER BRAIN SHUTS DOWN!
One of the problems is that fear, stress, and anxiety all cause the body to go into emergency fight/flight mode, which causes the higher brain function to be shut down to some extent. This means that, just when we need our higher brain, we do not have the higher brain to help us make the right decisions. And we also do not have the "strength" in a sense as we are often tired from the stress and anxiety. That's why you must at least make the decision right now and the commitment right now to engage in those actions that will restore your higher functioning. Start, always (as it always makes you feel better) the instant energy generators that follow.
STOP UNSMART SEEKING OF RELIEF ASAP!
My "unsmart" strategies in the past had involved going into a numb state for hours, staying up watching tv in a relative stupor until very late in the night. And also playing computer games (aaaargggghhhh!), where I would waste lots of hours and also become less capable of functioning for a while afterwards. Procrastination also "worked", in a sense, as I told myself "this was too hard", or "I don't know how to do this" or "I should be doing something more fun" or other nonsense like this but with more sentences linked together.
In all cases, in some form or another, I was "afraid" or in some kind of "distress", almost always in an unjustified way, with no legitimate threats and only "imagined" ones or the threats were very handleable if they were real. (See Fearlessness, where you essentially develop the confidence that you can handle anything that happens, despite any damage, and still create happiness from it.)
Boredom or tiredness and inability to function well would often lead to relieving the negativity or the boredom via a computer game or just looking the news or something that took no brainpower. Although they were actually no big deal, the effect of getting sucked into the computer game for hours and hours was a bid deal.
Of course, we will use the same old grooved in harmful "relief" strategy unless we have an "at the ready" alternative strategy (and internal statements we can make) that relieves more effectively and without extra side costs.
We could consult the Quik-Reference For Restoring Emotional Balance As Soon As Possible. Or we could use our protective front line strategies of using certain key affirmations or statements that deal with it, such as "I am safe" or "self-compassion" (see the Quik-Reference front line statements). And, virtually for sure, we would always use the deep breathing and relaxation strategies, especially taking a "nap" where, even if agitated and unable to "sleep", we use the .