Updated: Mar 5
We all like to escape sometimes from the drab reality of our daily lives. Looking for something exciting and colourful and packaged neatly with a bow on top. We get this through social media, streaming platforms, films, music, theatre, books or sometimes just our imaginations.
When used in moderation they can be helpful in cutting the monotony of our daily lives and routine, the problem occurs when we use them as a way of escaping from our life and stop living our lives in the real world. This article discusses how to overcome our escapist tendencies.
“Escapism is the tendency to escape from the real world to the delight or security of a fantasy world.” - APA
Everything in Moderation
Escapism isn’t a problem when we use it as a periodic, normal, and common impulse, as might be seen in harmless daydreams, (APA dictionary) it does become a problem when we use escapism as a way to avoid our lives and might indicate neurosis if the frequency and intensity of it is very high.
Escapism in moderation can be an effective coping strategy.
In moderation it can be used as a reset button to drive our creativity, motivation, problem solving and even happiness. Sometimes using the escape as a way to cope with the stressors is alright it can be a place to rest, regroup and energise to face the stresses and problems of every day.
Identifying Unhealthy Escapism
Escapism ceases to be an effective coping strategy when we start spending too much time on our own, locking ourselves away, isolating ourselves, having the phones on all the time, scrolling mindlessly, bingeing some series or playing video games without breaks, shirking responsibility, ignoring personal hygiene and grooming, indulging in substances (drugs, pills or alcohol) and putting tasks and chores off (procrastinating).
Snap Back to Reality
We need to ask ourselves a few questions to get back to reality. It all starts with identification and acknowledgement.
What are you hiding from? Is it a situation, thought, feeling, person?
How do you feel when you are away from your escape? How do we feel in the real world?
Finding the answers might be tough for some of us because we might be escaping to hide from these answers as well. If this is the case, please seek help from a mental health professional they can gently guide you towards the answers.
Once we have the answer, we can take the following steps to bring ourselves back to reality.
Find simple techniques of relaxation which can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.
Make real life more fun
It sometimes feels as if the real life is nothing but a long string of fires that need to be put out but that is seldom true, maybe what we need is balance. Yes, there will always be problems and stresses and work and chores but there is also fun, excitement and joy. Think about how you can add fun to real life.
Romanticise your real life
We escape to the place in our mind where things are always working out and the main character has everything sorted in short amount of time. Find romanticism in small daily activities; washing, cleaning, grocery shopping, commuting whatever else you can think about. Refer to the point above, there are simple joys and fun available to us all the time, why not recognise it and implement it?
Sometimes we find escapes because we do not want to face a difficult situation or there’s a problem/person we do not want to face. Try methods of problem solving, break the problem down into its basic components, come up with multiple solutions and try them out. It sounds easier than it actually is so take help if needed. No shame in asking for help.
Consult a therapist
If it is too overwhelming and you are not able to break out of the escape and beginning to feel trapped, please consult a mental health professional, they can be your guide to the life that you want.
Being imaginative and being able to create stories and places and situations is a skill that not everyone possesses. When used effectively it can be an asset and help with visualising solutions to problems and learning new skills. It is a strength and a good coping strategy if used in moderation.
Escapism isn’t a problem in itself, it is the reason behind using it that determines if it is a problem.