Why Escapism Is Important In Times of Need – Allow Yourself The Fantasy
Few would disagree we are living in difficult times – indeed, in times of crisis. Crisis can be something very personal happening to you, or it can be what’s happening around you.
When things seem overwhelming, sometimes you need an escape. You need that flight from struggle, hardship, negativity and the unrelenting Mordor darkness.
When all you see is crisis on the news, it’s okay to escape into a sitcom or seek pleasurable catharsis in horror shows. When your social media is overflowing with combative beliefs, it’s okay to escape with the unfollow button. When you are in the midst of a natural disaster, mental health struggles, or loss around you, trust in your instinct to find your own way to escape. Escape can be key in self-care.
Finding your Personal Escape Route
Everyone’s escape is probably a little bit different, and depends a lot on what they are escaping from. Escapism is a vital way to relieve stress in a variety of situations.
Are you looking for a creative outlet for what you’re feeling, to dive into a world unlike your own, to be distracted with company, or to find the positives to balance out any negativity? Some people use art as their escape. By painting, sculpting, creating music, or writing, you can escape into a creative world away from crisis. For others, entertainment offers another world you can spend time in for a while. You seek out your favourite fandom, a show you love, a game you like, movies you enjoy, or a book that will take you into a reality unlike your own. The same goes for reading heartwarming stories, volunteering, going for a hike, or having a night out with friends.
The key to finding your escape is finding the things that bring you peace, and allowing yourself to remember it’s okay – in fact, it’s good for you – to seek a happy escape when things seem impossible.
Escapism and mental health
Even during the Great Depression, when people couldn’t afford anything, they still went to the movies as a form of escapism. The coping process of escapism is common to many people in difficult situations through time.
When you’re experiencing crisis first hand, top priorities are usually centered around basic needs like health and security. Mental health can sometimes be put on the backburner.
A lot of the people in crisis across the United States right now are dealing with natural disasters and terrorism. Things like the Las Vegas shooting, California wildfires, and the hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico are leaving people injured, scared, without homes, and in need of basic health and security. Following a crisis, survivors will need mental health treatment to be available. After Hurricane Katrina, more than 50 percent of survivors suffered with PTSD.
Long-term escapism is almost non-existent for those on the front lines of crisis. However, something as simple as listening to a song can offer a brief moment of escapism for those who can’t afford a lengthy reprieve.
Mental health struggles peak for those dealing with a crisis first-hand, but also ripple out to those who are aware of that crisis. If we’re immersed in the 24-hour news cycle of today, seeing devastation around us, we need to balance awareness with our state of mind.
It’s possible to bridge the gap between staying informed while knowing when to take a break from the coverage. It’s also important to take care of yourself, and understand it’s okay to make yourself feel good when you’re feeling bad.
What are You Escaping From?
Well, you’ll know the answer to this one. The reasons are many, and all of them are valid. School stress, feeling overwhelmed with work, a hectic life with children, the death of a loved one, mental health struggles, addiction, family troubles, relationship woes, or traumatic events can all trigger our need to retreat or flee elsewhere for a while.
Escapism is important for everyone because it allows your brain to take a break.
Some people feel like they don’t deserve an escape if the crisis isn’t happening to them directly, such as a family member being sick, or social injustice happening to others. However, this is not the case. You always deserve relief from difficult times, even if you’re indirectly affected.
Nurses are taught strategies for helping terminal patients as well as their caregivers in terms of mental health because both struggle in different ways. Whatever you’re escaping from, whether it’s happening to you directly or not, escapism is allowed.
Escapism vs Avoidance
Escapism relates to self-help, self-care, and coping. It’s allowing yourself to disengage from your problem briefly in order to re-energize, have a break, and prevent emotional exhaustion.
Escapism is an emotional vacation. Many escape by turning off social media, distancing themselves from loved ones, or immersing themselves in another activity. However, it is important to understand the difference between escapism and avoidance.
Avoiding the problem is not beneficial and can result in poor coping mechanisms. Avoidance is ignoring the problem. Escapism doesn’t do that. Escapism is momentary. It is a respite, not a way of life.
The world needs a bit of escapism. Sometimes it’s just so helpful to shut off the hard parts of life, and get lost in something else.
Aim to return from your escape refreshed. Use that wonderful period of relief to make yourself stronger, not to disconnect further.
Instead of ignoring the problem in Puerto Rico, donate money or share information on how to help. Instead of ignoring the suicide public health crisis, reach out to loved ones who are struggling. Instead of succumbing to the fear and displacement experienced on the front lines of crisis, come back feeling emotionally rested and ready to interact with the wider world again.
Escapism is important because it allows a brief moment of self-care and an emotional break. It reminds us that we can still feel happy and hopeful and passionate about life. Yes, a book or a song can do that. And, in difficult times, that can be hard to remember.
Escapism is different things to different people, and there is no such thing as ‘basic’ escapism. It is what it is. It’s reading about Hollywood gossip instead of the news. It’s going to a movie to laugh when you’re feeling depressed. It’s spending a night with friends when you’re feeling alone. It’s escaping into the world of a book when it feels like your real life is a scene in the Upside Down.
Everyone deserves an escape, and yours can be whatever you need it to be.