The power of escapism: imagination, mental health and the benefits of distraction

Power of escapism

The power of escapism: imagination, mental health and the benefits of distraction

We all like to take time for ourselves. Some like a good book. Some like an exciting film. For Ellie, she likes anything that helps her get away from it all…

Who doesn’t love getting lost in a book, or spending the best part of a week binge watching a new series? Although these appear as part and parcel of the modern condition, they’re also methods of escapism. Defined as the ‘tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities’, escapism can take many forms, a lot of which most of us are already familiar with.

Escapism offers a way to take the pressure off and temporarily disconnect. In taking some time to escape our everyday lives, we find ourselves better equipped to deal with situations and handle any obstacles we may be facing.

Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and one in six people report experiencing one in any given week. With figures this high, it’s important that we develop our own methods of dealing with the world and escaping our anxieties short-term. While some light-hearted escapism won’t solve any of life's big problems, it can provide enough space and distance to enjoy the present moment, a welcome relief when life’s getting on top of you.

Forms of escapism

Escapism can take many forms, whether it’s going away to spend some time in a new place, watching every new film that comes out, or listening to music on the train and pretending you’re in a music video. It’s basically anything that removes you from your current situation.

It can be fleeing to imaginary worlds as in books, video games, and TV, or taking a time-out from responsibility and taking a trip across the world. Socialising with friends also counts. After a long week of work and no play, an evening out can offer some therapeutic distance from everyday life.

Benefits to your mental health

By engaging in some healthy escapism, you can leave any pressing concerns or worries behind. In a lot of cases, emotions are fleeting, and we simply need to ride them out. With distractions to remove you from the toxic headspace, this can happen without dragging you along for the process.

In cases where there is no quick fix, taking time to detach yourself allows you to regroup and better approach whatever the issue may be. Think of escapism like opening a pressure valve. Nothing good can happen when the pressure’s building up, so it’s best to release some steam and approach it then.

No one understands your mental health quite like you. By developing some self-awareness you’ll come to understand what you need to make life more enjoyable. If you know going to the cinema after work helps you decompress, go for it. Our imaginations are a wonderful thing when it comes to seeking refuge from mental health concerns. There’s nothing like separating from your own life for a few hours after a stressful day.

Distraction method

Escapism at its core is temporarily distracting ourselves from our lives. The power of distraction can be impressive and has been proven to function similarly to pain relief in some instances.

In a study, 188 children’s pain levels were assessed during a blood test. Those given distraction cards had the lowest pain and anxiety levels out of all groups, suggesting that distraction can reduce the perception of pain and the presence of anxiety.  

With distractions able to reduce both physical and mental symptoms in the study, we can assume that engaging in escapism could definitely have some positive effects on our mental states.

Striking a balance

Escapism isn’t going to change your whole life, but it can improve how you approach and deal with what you’re going through. However, it’s important to strike a balance so that you don’t end up constantly avoiding your problems. While it can be therapeutic to distract yourself for short periods of time, you don’t want this to turn into avoidance or denial. Returning to real life and attempting to tackle things head on should always follow.

Our imaginations can be a wonderful thing for alleviating stress. It offers us time and space to better deal with our problems. Escapism, in whatever form works for you, can be beneficial at offering you the space and breathing room you need whenever the pressures of life get too much.

At Coster Content, writing content offers us some headspace and allows us to use our imaginations. If you’ve got a passion for writing and want to turn it into a career, our Academy could be perfect for you. Over six weeks you’ll pick up skills and experience that’ll put you on the correct path to a content writing career. If you have any questions, get in touch with us on 0161 413 8418.

Alia CosterComment