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Home Escapism. When is it healthy? When is it damaging?

Escapism. When is it healthy? When is it damaging?

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Escapism. When is it healthy? When is it damaging? 

A college student choosing to do general cleaning of their room the night before an important exam,  a parent opting to do some gardening instead of taking the time to file their taxes, an employee deciding to start a new Netflix series instead of working on a crucial report due at the end of the week; these are some examples of how anybody and anyone has the tendency to escape from the realities of life into the safety of a “different world.” 

This impulse called escapism is both common and normal as a psychological defense mechanism. Whenever we feel threatened, stressed or fearful, a temporary escape can help us avoid disagreeable feelings. 

Escapism. Is it harmful or useful? 

  • Escapism rewards the brain. 

When we have pleasurable experiences, our brain releases neurotransmitters like dopamine that bring us happiness. Think of sipping ice cold soda on a hot day, or eating chocolates. Escapism usually provides short-term pleasures, but without addressing the underlying anxiety-producing problem, issues will still remain. 

  • Escapism and its effects on society. 

Historically, researchers have recorded collective escapism where communities have turned to activities like entertainment and even religion in order to avoid the unpleasant feelings brought by economic crises and political uncertainties.

  • Escapism as a moral issue. 

When our way of escapism also allows us to run away from responsibilities to their close relationships, communities and the society, it takes on a moral aspect. 

In the end, escapism is not a long-term beneficial response to life’s adversities. 

Healthy ways to escape and cope with perceived threats, stresses and fears: 

  • Meditation. When we sit still, enter into a quiet space, and focus our attention on the present moment, we escape the thoughts that often run back to the hurtful past or leap into the scary future. We eliminate distractions and focus on “now.” 

Either you make use of online apps and websites for their free guided meditation, or you guide yourself into practicing deep breathing exercises, you can temporarily release stress.

  1. Physical activities. Choose a physical activity that is suited for your comfort and fitness. Walking is an exercise that is both stimulating to the whole body and easy to do. Other activities like Pilates, Yoga, going to the gym and functional fitness have shown benefits to mental health by releasing stress and increasing reported mental well-being. Putting these activities in your schedule and accomplishing them week by week gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment as well. 
  1. Creative hobbies. Therapeutic hobbies include creating different forms of art. Research has shown that they are good mediums of expressing emotions and of creating a chance for the brain to focus on one thing only- the art in front of you. You can add activities like drawing, painting and creating crafts, music, or writing to your routine. 
  1. Learn to recognize unhealthy avoidance behaviors. When avoidance becomes a default practice and when it interferes with living a productive life, it becomes unhealthy and harmful. Ask yourself, “Why am I choosing to avoid certain things?” and “What problem am I trying to escape?,” can help you understand yourself and your motives more. 

If all of these things still fail to improve your performance in your daily life, it might be time to seek professional help. You can explore and find solutions to deep issues with the help of a professional psychiatrist, mental health therapist, or counselor. 

Finding it hard to look for experienced healthcare and mental health professionals? Connect with a premier healthcare and mental health job board to help you seek the right people for the job. 

Escapism. When is it healthy? When is it damaging?
Brandon Resasco