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How Much Escapism is Ok For You?

Distraction seeking is common for all of us at one point or another, but how much is too much?

Escapism or the tendency to avoid reality, painful experiences, or even our routine roles and responsibilities, is a problem for some people.

A client this week inquired about noticing he was increasingly likely to mentally check out at various times throughout the day and do something mindless, fun or distracting.

While my client was concerned with how much is too much, there may be some additional questions we want to ask ourselves to determine if our escapism is healthy or actually more of a detriment to our lives, health and relationships.

First it’s important to note that occasional mindless escapism is normal. Sometimes we may even enter into a temporary hypnotic state such as when we are driving and ask ourselves how did I get here, where perhaps we drifted off into la la land for a short while.

Escapism that is habitual occurs through activities that also include an element of pleasure such as playing video games, looking at porn, shopping online, or binge watching movies or shows. (Certainly this list is not exhaustive.)

If you are concerned you are engaging in an activity too often or for the wrong reasons, you may benefit by asking yourself the following questions.

This may help you to discover whether your escapism is healthy or crossing over into problematic territory.

  1. How often am I tempted to engage in activities that take me away from reality and /or responsibilities?

  2. What am I avoiding when I engage in escapism activities? Is it housework, work work, tending to someone else’s needs, dealing with finances or a nagging partner?

  3. What do I notice I am feeling right before I am tempted to engage in an escapism activity? Am I bored, angry, sad, lonely, or experiencing other unpleasant feelings?

  4. How well do I do at communicating my thoughts, feelings and needs? Do I avoid identifying and expressing those and therefore use pleasurable activities to compensate for what I am not getting in my relationships at home or at work?

  5. What other tools or options have I identified that I can engage in when I am feeling sad, lonely, bored, angry etc. besides my habit of choice? Do I ever utilize these other options or activities?

  6. Does my partner or coworker complain that I am often not present, unable to focus or doing other things often that take me away from time together and /or being productive?

  7. What are other ways I have cultivated that are healthy to relax or rejuvenate that feel replenishing rather than feel mindless?

  8. If I get honest, do I see that I am trapped in a need for constant pleasure or escape from the people around me and /or daily responsibilities?

  9. Am I suffering silently with depression or anxiety and this escapism activity seems to be the only way I can feel ok?

  10. Do I have urges or cravings throughout the day to return to this escapism/ pleasure seeking activity?

If you can relate to several or more of these questions, and they resonate for you, it may be time to become aware that your escapism activities are hurting your health, work and /or relationships.

Is a little smattering of fantasy thinking time ok? Certainly. We might daydream about a different job, vacationing on a tropical island or what we might do if we hit the lottery. Do we need time away from our routines, roles and responsibilities? Yes, and absolutely. Taking short breaks daily as well as ensuring you are finding a balance in your off time of social interaction, adventure and fun is critical to feeling balanced, energized and ready to tackle life’s challenges and responsibilities.

Too much escapism and pleasure seeking however can really cause problems with our relationships, work productivity, ability to engage with the people at home and at work and can mess with our health overall.

If you are using escapism to avoid a mental health issue, relationship issue, past trauma, or current challenge, may the team at LWK challenge you today to reach out and connect with a mental health professional and /or life coach who can assist you on a path to a meaningful, engaged and satisfying life. Find help by visiting www.livewellkitsap.com/mind-your-health to find professionals who can assist you.

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