Many of us have used escapism over the years to avoid everything from paying our taxes to facing up to our fears. When we engage in escapism, shut off our brains for a little while and take a step out of whatever circumstances are causing us to feel anxious, stressed or otherwise up-against it. It’s a powerful coping mechanism, and one that is especially invaluable now, but it’s important to master escapism consciously lest it come to rule your life.
By cultivating a deeper understanding of the ways in which escapism can both benefit us and hold us back, we can use it as a tool to promote calm and tranquility in our lives. Turning away from the painful things we cannot control is how we get refocused on the things that we can control. It’s also the means by which we find ourselves again, and the way in which we strengthen our resolves and the determination we have to keep moving forward — despite it all.
Escapism in the age of COVID-19.
Though it often gets a hard time from self-help gurus, escapism can be an invaluable tool when it comes to surviving times just like these. Escapism occurs when we engage in activities that pull us away from the stress or negativity in our lives. It’s a type of prioritization and a type of reset that can be especially helpful when we’re feeling as though we’ve lost sight of what we need to do or what’s important.
Much as a computer can become over-stressed or reheat, so too can our brains when we heap on too much mental or emotional hardship. If you’re feeling as though everything is a mess and you just can’t cope anymore, escaping it all might be just what you need to recharge.
Stop looking at escapism as something to be avoided, and embrace the power of “doing nothing”. Though we’ve been told that enjoyment is the path to vice and failure, nothing could be further from the truth. Giving ourselves the space and opportunity to reset is a kindness that we owe to ourselves and our wellbeing. If the pressure of social distancing is wearing you down, read on to learn more about escapism and how it could provide precisely the door you need to access your joy in this new age of chaos.
How escapism works.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand how escapism adds value to our lives in times of crisis. Sometimes, the pressure to survive is just too great for our conscious brains to withstand. That’s why it’s important to allow ourselves to be distracted, so we can encourage easier thinking and a shift in perspective that opens up new avenues of opportunity.
On the most basic and superficial of levels, escapism offers us distraction and a way to turn our minds (and emotions) from the things that are causing us stress, panic or tension. Escapism means doing things that you enjoy, and that can refocus the brain in positive ways that make dealing with physical and social distancing that much easier.
Beside giving us a much-needed distraction, escapism works through relaxing our minds and alleviating the stress we’re experiencing. This allows us to think through things more balanced and effectively, and look at things a little more rationally and logically (from time to time, at the very least). The more relaxed we are, the easier it is for us to think through things.
When we allow ourselves to relax and detach (both emotionally and physically) from a situation, it can help to shift our sense of perspective or the way we’re currently experiencing things. Negative experienceshave a way of keeping us hyper-focused in way that causes us to lose sight of all the other opportunities waiting for us. Allowing your brain to turn off and recharge is a great way to come back to the table with a new perspective when things start to get serious.
The benefits of balanced escapism when you’re socially isolating.
Social isolation is scary not oly because it separates us from the people that we care for, but also because it removes the illusion of control we have over our lives. We now no longer have the power to go outside or go where we want. Escapism, however, can give us back that sense of control and provide a number of other welcome benefits that help boost our resilience when times get tough.
Escapism is a great way to relax, and it’s one of the most low-effort forms of relaxation we can tap into. Getting out of your discomfort for a little while can be as simple as watching a movie you love, or playing a video game you haven’t had a change to focus on in a while. You can literally escape the misery of COVID-19 isolation from the comfort of your own couch with a little creativity and very little effort.
One of the reasons escapism is so addictive is the quick results it provides. When you engage in escapist activities that are enjoyable, they provide an instant boost to your happiness and can dramatically improve your mood in a matter of minutes. These quick results work in conjunction with dopamine hits, which is what makes getting away from it all such a pleasurable and easy way to clear your mind.
Though escapism gets a bad rap, we all need to give ourselves a break from time to time. Stepping away from the stress and the drama of life is what can keep us sane, and provide an outlet for the negative emotions we don’t quite know how to deal with. Turning your brain off is downright therapeutic, and can make the difference between life and death when you’re feeling frazzled or pushed to the edge. It’s all-access therapy for everyone, and you don’t even have to talk if you don’t want to.
Escapism isn’t something that has to be done alone — even in the age of social distancing. There are a number of ways we can use connection to creatively escape the pressure and stress of a life lived apart. Playing video and board games together is one way to bond while getting away from it all, but you can also engage in pastimes as simple as video chats and phone calls. Escapism is a great opportunity to reconnect and focus authentically on other people.
When you feel like you can’t get ahead, or you’re trapped in a negative loop of emotions and focus — it can be hard to feel as though you’re getting any joy or satisfaction out of life. Escapism can help combat those feelings, and provide the sense that we’re getting what we want from life, or that we’re in charge of important aspects of our lives. If you’re not feeling satisfied in any other aspect of your day-to-day, escapism can provide the key to…well, escape.