When life throws us stress and anxiety, it can sometimes seem impossible to catch our breaths. It can feel like you’re drowning amongst the waves and barely able to keep your head up. Because of that, we may feel the desire to search for an escape.
As we navigate the struggles of our daily lives, there is a way to hold our heads above the water and fill our lungs with the oxygen we desperately need. Whether it be through meditation, reading or listening to music, there is a healthy escape out there for everyone. Welcome to the world of escapism.
What Does Escapism Look Like?
According to Merriam-Webster, escapism can be defined as the “habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine.” In simpler terms, when you are seeking escapism, you are searching for a place that is the opposite of your ordinary life. Escapism can take your mind to a place — a place quite literally of your dreams. It allows you to expand your senses in a way that can be considered euphoric.
You might be a person who gets sucked into a particular film or show — soaking up the world made by the director. You might be a person who religiously listens to the same song on repeat to vicariously live through the lyrics. You might be a person who stays up all night reading to feel as if you’re walking alongside your favorite characters. Or, you might be someone who likes to daydream while looking out the bus window on your way to clear your thoughts.
Any action you take to travel someplace else mentally, and perhaps physically, can be thought of as escapism. However, it is necessary to acknowledge that there is a fine line to tread when exploring this phenomenon.
Can Escapism Go Too Far?
As with many things presented in our lives, we sometimes have to take them with precaution or in moderation — escapism included. The reality of our lives brings pain. Facing the difficulties and stress that arise each day is not an easy feat. Because of this, escapism can go too far. When escapism is used to avoid coming face to face with these stressors, that is when things can become a problem.
According to author Mayur Ghiya, “The more time you spend in the fantasy world, the lesser energy you have to enjoy the real one. The escapist world becomes an addiction and that should be avoided at any cost.”
When we think about the word escapism in itself, there is an opportunity to reframe it in a clearer, healthier way. According to an article from Life Hacker citing psychotherapist Dr. Michael J. Hurd, there might be a different word to use for escapism.
“There is something else that I call “refueling.” Refueling refers to things of secondary importance that we do in order to mentally or psychologically recharge our spirits (or bodies) so that we can better handle the primary commitments to career, marriage/relationships, family/kids, etc. There’s nothing wrong with refueling via fantasy and entertainment,” says Hurd.
All in all, it is completely normal to want to take a break away from life. Just remember to find healthy forms of escapism in small amounts.
What Are Healthy Ways To Experience Escapism?
Fueling your desire for creativity, play and imagination are all possible with escapism. The best part of this feeling is that you don’t have to look far and wide for it.
If you are longing to nestle between lyrics and the sounds of your favorite instruments to be transported to another setting unlike your surroundings, look toward music. Whether listening to your favorite albums and artists, themed playlists (like the one below) or through film soundtracks, there is a plethora of sound to explore.
Sometimes all we need is a quick breather. Mediation can do just that and more. It allows you to focus on things such as controlling your breath, rather than the looming stress that may be consuming you. Mediation is a key resource to practice as it allows you to strengthen your mindfulness and compassion toward others, all while allowing you to escape for some time. If you are looking for a variety of quick meditations, check out Great Mediation on Youtube.
Reading is one of the most special ways to experience escapism. Writers are able to build worlds unlike our own. One of the best genres to explore for this sensation is fantasy due to the vast world building, mythical creatures and of course, romance. VALLEY recommends the “Shadow and Bone” Trilogy by author Leigh Bardugo, “The Atlas Series” by Olivie Blake and “The Court of Thorns and Roses” series by Sarah J. Maas.
Film and Television
Very similar to reading, certain watching films and television series can intact escapism from the comfort of your own home. VALLEY recommends Studio Ghibli films such as “Kiki’s Delivery Service” or “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Game of Thrones” or “House of the Dragon” and “Outlander.”
Can you relate to wanting to experience escapism? Let VALLEY know by tagging @valleymag on Instagram and @VALLEYmag on Twitter.