Forms of Escapism
Negative modes of escapism
Life is getting more challenging. Technology has enabled 24/7 lifestyles where we are always on call. Stress levels are rising and so are depression and anxiety. As a result, there is a greater need than ever for people to find ways to escape in order maintain mental and emotional stability. Society frowns on people opting out and shunning corporate ladders and office politics. Finding acceptable forms of escapism has become vital and there are many ways in which we can transport ourselves away from the stresses and strains of the daily grind. How many of these forms of escapism do you engage in?
Sport serves a valuable purpose for us. Many people lead dull lives and being part of a team of supporters allows a feeling of belonging and an added dimension of excitement to life. Some sports can be particularly aggressive, such as rugby, and this provides a legitimate outlet for aggression. This lowers stress levels and leave everyday society with less anger as team players and observers get to shout and let off steam. Sport provides a valuable release and form of escapism and stress release for many and if sport was not available, this stress would be diverted into less appropriate places, thereby possibly affecting society in a negative way.
I have noticed that MANY of my clients use work as a form of escapism. Being busy and burying your head in emails and work projects provides an escape from having to deal with the fundamentals in life such as personal fulfilment, quality relationships and a satisfying sense of direction. Many distract themselves with work. They use this as an excuse to bumble along and not deal with more important issues, such as their personal relationships and even their own happiness. Many don’t know what makes them happy and even fewer live their lives according to their underlying values. Work provides a convenient excuse for us to chug along in automatic mode. It provides structure and a framework and can easily take over your life if you let it. What most people forget though, is that when all is said and done, very few people wish they had worked longer hours. Most people wish they had slowed down a bit and enjoyed life a little more. Very little matters at the end when we are old and decrepit, other than what we gave back and our family, friends, and pets.
This is the obvious one but it deserves a mention as cocaine use is ubiquitous and increasing (as well as many other drugs). The harder life becomes the more people seek fulfilment in drugs to help them escape. Boredom and monotony also contribute to drug taking but it is a temporary fix that ends up causing more problems than it solves. If we lived in a world that was kinder and more tolerant, I believe there would be less demand for drugs as a form of escapism.
Show me an overweight person and I’ll show you a person who is unhappy on some level. I believe overeating (unless it is physiological – such as hormonal or metabolic) is a form of escapism that is caused by a person seeking comfort. An escape from sadness of frustration. Find out what the void is or what the unmet need is and you will start to reduce the tendency to use food as a form of escapism.
There are so many types of escapism, but anything in extremes suggests a possible issue. Addictions are a form of escapism whether it’s smoking, drugs, alcohol, gambling or love addiction. All of these stem from some inner lack or void. Often this lack is determined by our levels of confidence and self-esteem. Psychological therapies go a long way to easing the urge to escape and can teach individuals to emotionally regulate in better ways and deal with distress.
Positive modes of escapism
Mindfulness means being in the present moment without making judgements. When we are mindful, we fully take in our surroundings instead of being trapped in our busy minds with worries of the future. No one likes uncertainty but mindfulness can quieten our anxious thinking. Meditation is a little more complicated and can’t be accessed as easily as mindfulness. It is another wonderful form of escapism thought that can promote a calm outlook.
Travelling abroad or even locally can be a refreshing form of escapism. Travelling opens our eyes to new perspectives and teaches us about our strengths and weaknesses. Studies have shown that travelling can also increase confidence and self-esteem. What’s not to like? Of course, travelling can’t fix all of your problems and if the issues surround your thinking or behaviour, you may find that you simply take your problems with you. If you have realistic expectations about what travelling can do for you, it might just make the all the difference.
Hobbies can act as creative outlets and provide welcome relief from the stress of daily life. Hobbies such as painting, playing a musical instrument or any other activity that distracts you and brings joy will work. Walks in nature can provide a healthy distraction as well. Whenever you engage in something that is important to you and brings enjoyment, you’re on the right track.
Have you got any forms of escape? Sleeping too much? Withdrawing, daydreaming? Forms of escape are necessary but when the behaviour affects your life negatively, and begins to affect daily life in a negative way, it’s time to re-assess.