Keeping Escapism To a Minimum

What is Escapism?

Escapism is the tendency to distract yourself or find relief from anything that’s unpleasant, boring or scary. This can come from seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy. 

What are the Pros and Cons of Escapism?

Escapism has many pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Can be Therapeutic and Relieves Stress
  • It’s Entertaining
  • Stress Relief
  • You Can Become Someone Else
  • Temporarily Disconnect From Reality
  • Tendency to Be More Creative
  • Makes You Want To Travel More

Cons:

  • Lack of Productivity
  • Can Lead to Addiction
  • Procrastination
  • Lose Touch With The Harsh Realities Of The World
  • Lose the Ability to Cope with Uncertainty

We all seek different forms of escapism as ways to cope with the stress and anxiety of day to day life. Some of us unwind by sitting by the pool and having a drink and there are others that like to play video games.

Escapism is a problem when we have a compulsive need to escape from reality and not address the issues that are unpleasant, boring or scary. When this happens escapism becomes an addiction.

What are Some Examples of Escapism?

Escapism comes in many forms including:

Sports: Sports are a positive form of escapism. Whether you’re watching your favorite team on television or sitting in the bleachers at the arena it’s a great way to release stress.

Working: We all need to work to live, but there’s a form of escapism in which someone lives to work by choice. This happens when someone has the need to escape from having to deal with issues in life such as lack of quality relationships, lack or personal fulfilment or lack of satisfaction with the direction your life is heading.

Consumption of Alcohol and Drugs (In Moderation): We all like to party in order to get a break from life.

Overeating: Food can be used as a form of escapism. The painful realities of our lives are too much for some of us to bare, if we don’t want to face unpleasant realities that bring us pain some of us overeat to take the pain away.

Video Games: We sometimes need to escape from reality by temporarily escaping from it.

Love: Love is an intense feeling of deep affection for another person. There are some people that view love as a form of escapism.

Social Media: I mention this topic a lot in this blog. Social media has its positives, but it has its negatives also including internet addiction.

How Escapism Affects your Wellbeing?

Escapism is how a lot of us cope with the challenges of life, but over time it can become unhealthy and can prevent us from doing what we want to do to improve our real lives.

Escapism can lead to these problems:

  • Dissociation and Destruction of Self
  • Loneliness
  • Compulsiveness
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Less Time and Energy for Working On Real Life Issues

If you’re having trouble coping with stress and anxiety please download my anxiety expert list by clicking on the link below:

How To Turn Escapism Into Something Positive?

It’s ok to engage in escapism in small bouts throughout the day to rest your brain and get a break from less serious stuff. However, if you’re engaging in escapism more often and it becomes avoidance.

What is Avoidance?

Excessive escapism can turn into avoidance; it’s also known as avoidance coping, avoidance behaviors and escape coping. Whatever you call it; it’s a dysfunctional form of coping that leads to the changing of our behavior in order to avoid thinking about things or feeling emotions that make us feel uncomfortable.

Avoidance involves us trying to avoid stressors that cause anxiety. The more you avoid dealing with these stressors in your life, the more the underlying anxiety accumulates.

An example of avoidance is not coping with unresolved issues from a past relationship. The amount of lingering emotional baggage can lead to love addiction, which is a compulsive, chronic craving and pursuit of romantic love in an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person. Love addiction can lead to a toxic relationship in which you lose your sense of self and deal with ever increasing depression and anxiety.

Another example of avoidance is video game addiction. Video games in general can be addictive and they’re designed to be addictive. It’s estimated that 5 to 15% of gamers are addicted to them. These gamers already have underlying issues with depression and anxiety due to things in their lives that are difficult to cope with, so they avoid facing these problems head on. Overtime this leads to a lot of problems, for example some people that become addicted to gaming have self-esteem problems in real life caused by issues such as underemployment, relationship issues and financial issues. In the gaming world they escape from these unpleasant realities by being in control in a fantasy world where you may have a higher status than in real life. This can lead to problems with dissociation and losing oneself in this fantasy world and you can lose the ability to cope with real life altogether.

How To Cope in a Healthier Way?

There are other ways of coping with unresolved life issues that are more positive. 

These forms of coping include:

  • Talking Thru Problems: If there’s an unresolved problem in your life it’s important to talk about it and admit that its causing a problem instead of letting it fester.
  • Reframing Your Anxiety: I mentioned in a previous blog post about turning anxiety into a superpower about a form of therapy called ‘reframing’. It’s taking negative thoughts that cause anxiety and reframe them into something positive. For example, if you’re having negative thoughts about why you didn’t make a team in high school and ask yourself what positive things came from not making the team.
  • Minimize Stress: It’s important to keep stress to a minimum, because when it’s kept to a minimum anxiety is kept to a minimum.
  • Meditation: Meditation is a great way to focus on the present moment and be able to cope with reality.
  • Live Your Life Like a Character in a Game: This is an interesting idea. Certain video games allow you to level up when you gain enough experience points. For example in Role Playing Games (RPG’s) such as ‘Final Fantasy’ you eventually gain a level when you gather enough experience points. When you gain a level and manage the money you earn you’re able to equip new weapons, you gain status upgrades and you have more hit points. What if you live your life like a character in an RPG; when you have an unresolved issue you want to tackle and when you do it can feel like a level upgrade. The same thing can occur in other areas of your life; when you earn a new college degree or acquire a new professional license and become a Master at what you do it’s like a character from ‘Final Fantasy’ named Cecil upgrading his job from Dark Knight to Paladin. If you ever played one of these games you’ll understand what I mean.
  • Make Your Real Life More Fun: If you’re feeling bored with your life and you have tendencies to want to escape into an imaginary world try planning more fun real life experiences. These can include traveling, spending time with friends and family and/or going to the beach.
  • “Escape” From The Life You Already Have: If you’re unhappy with your life and need to make a change start by learning new things that you can use to make your situation better. Instead of wasting your time on your laptop binge watching shows on NetFlix start enrolling in an online course instead. You’re already spending so much time on your computer anyway try using that time to improve yourself.

This post concludes the series on New Year’s Resolutions. Stress and Anxiety can be kept to a minimum and easier to cope when you take a step toward making some positive changes to your life. 

Eat less junk food, drink more water, find better ways to cope with stress and most importantly keep escapism to a minimum.

If you like to see how to turn anxiety into a superpower please click on the button below:

What Do You Do To Unplug From Life?

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