Forms of Escapism

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Mandy has been working in the mental health field for more than eight years and has worked with a diverse group of clients. These range ...Read More

What is Escapism?

Escapism refers to the practice of seeking distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by engaging in entertainment or engaging in fantasy. It’s a way individuals detach from the day-to-day stressors and challenges of life, finding solace in activities that transport them mentally or emotionally to a different place or state of being.

Life is getting more challenging. Technology has enabled 24/7 lifestyles where we are always on call. Stress is on the rise and so is depression and anxiety. As a result, there is a greater need than ever for people to find ways to escape in order to maintain mental and emotional stability. Society frowns on people opting out and shunning corporate ladders and office politics. Finding acceptable forms of escapism has become more vital than ever and there are many ways in which we can transport ourselves away from the stresses and strains of the daily grind. How many of these forms of escapism do you engage in?



Sport serves a valuable purpose for us. Many people lead dull lives and being part of a team of supporters allows a feeling of belonging and an added dimension of excitement to life. Some sports can be particularly aggressive, such as rugby, and this provides a legitimate outlet for aggression. This lowers stress levels and leaves everyday society with less anger as team players and observers get to shout and let off steam. Sport provides a valuable release and form of escapism and stress release for many and if sport was not available, this stress would be diverted into less appropriate places, thereby possibly affecting society in a negative way.

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Corporate world

I have noticed with MANY of my clients that they use work as a form of escapism. Being busy and burying your head in emails and work projects provides a great escape from having to deal with the fundamentals in life such as personal fulfillment, quality relationships and a satisfying sense of direction in life. Many people bury themselves in work and use this as an excuse to bumble along and not deal with more important issues such as their personal relationships and even their own happiness. Work has provided a convenient excuse for us to chug along in automatic mode, it provides structure and a framework and can easily take over your life if you let it. What most people forget though, is that when all is said and done, very few people wish they had worked longer hours. Many wish they had slowed down a bit and enjoyed life a little more. Very little matters at the end when we are old and decrepit, other than what we gave back and our family, friends and pets.


This is the obvious one but it deserves a mention as cocaine use is on the rise as well as many other drugs. The harder life becomes the more people seek fulfilment in drugs to help them escape. Boredom and monotony also contribute to drug taking but it is a temporary fix that ends up causing more trouble than it solves. If life was happier and easier I believe there would be less demand for drugs as a form of escapism.


Show me an overweight person and I’ll show you a person who is unhappy on some level. I believe overeating (unless it is physiological – such as hormonal or metabolic) is a form of escapism that is caused by a person seeking comfort. An escape from sadness or frustration. Find out what the void is or what the unmet need is and you will start to reduce food being a convenient escape.

There are so many forms of escapism, anything in extremes suggests a possible issue. Addictions are a form of escapism whether it’s smoking, drugs, alcohol, gambling or love addiction. All of these stem from some inner lack or void. Often this lack is determined by our levels of confidence and self esteem. Psychological therapies go a long way to easing the urge to escape and can teach individuals to emotionally regulate in better ways and deal with distress in a more tolerant manner.

Healthy Escapism Strategies

Incorporating healthy escapism strategies into one’s life is an effective way to manage stress and improve overall well-being. These strategies provide a constructive outlet for energy and emotions, allowing individuals to find balance and peace in their daily lives. Here’s how to engage in healthy escapism:

Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness and meditation offer a powerful means of escapism by focusing the mind on the present moment, free from distractions and stress. Start by setting aside a few minutes each day for meditation, using guided sessions available through apps or online platforms if you’re a beginner. Practice deep breathing exercises, focusing on the sensation of breath entering and leaving your body, to anchor yourself in the now. Gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the practice. Mindfulness can also be integrated into daily activities, such as mindful walking or eating, where you fully engage with the experience and sensations of the moment.

Physical Activities

Physical activities are a great way to relieve stress and improve mental health, offering a range of options suitable for different fitness levels. For beginners, walking is a highly accessible form of exercise that can be done anywhere. Yoga and tai chi combine physical movement with mindfulness, enhancing both physical and mental well-being. More vigorous activities, like running, cycling, or team sports, not only improve cardiovascular health but also release endorphins, boosting mood and providing a sense of accomplishment.

Creative Pursuits

Engaging in art, writing, or music allows for expression and exploration of emotions, serving as a therapeutic form of escapism. You don’t need to be an expert; the focus is on the process rather than the outcome. Start a journal to reflect on your thoughts and feelings, pick up an instrument and learn to play through online tutorials, or explore your creativity with drawing, painting, or crafting. These activities can provide a sense of calm and satisfaction, offering an escape into a world of creativity and imagination.

Reading for Mental Escape

Reading offers an unparalleled escape into other worlds, lives, and experiences. Choose genres that fascinate you, whether it’s fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, or mystery, to become fully immersed in a story. Consider setting a reading goal or joining a book club to make reading a more interactive and engaging part of your life. Audiobooks are also a great option for those who prefer listening and can be enjoyed while multitasking.

Virtual Escapes

Technology, particularly virtual reality (VR), has opened up new avenues for escapism. VR can transport you to other worlds, offering immersive experiences that are not possible in physical reality. Use VR for educational experiences, virtual travel, or simply to explore new environments. However, it’s important to use technology mindfully, ensuring that time spent in virtual spaces complements rather than detracts from real-world experiences and connections.

By incorporating these healthy escapism strategies into your routine, you can create a balanced approach to managing stress and enhancing your quality of life. Whether through mindfulness, physical activity, creative pursuits, reading, or virtual escapes, these strategies offer a path to rejuvenation and personal growth.

Understanding Escapism

Understanding escapism involves delving into the psychological triggers that compel individuals to seek refuge in activities or thoughts that distance them from their current realities. At its core, escapism is often a response to stress, anxiety, or dissatisfaction with one’s life circumstances. These triggers can range from workplace stress, personal conflicts, to broader existential concerns. As a coping mechanism, escapism allows individuals to momentarily disconnect from the pressures and demands of life, offering mental and emotional relief. This practice can manifest in various forms, including immersing oneself in sports, engaging in creative hobbies, or even losing oneself in the corporate world or in virtual realities.

The line between healthy and unhealthy escapism lies in the impact these activities have on an individual’s life. Healthy escapism serves as a temporary respite, allowing for relaxation and rejuvenation. It’s characterized by activities that contribute to an individual’s overall well-being, such as exercise, meditation, and engaging in hobbies that promote skill development and personal growth. These forms of escapism are integrated into one’s life in a balanced manner, enhancing rather than detracting from daily responsibilities and relationships.

Conversely, unhealthy escapism occurs when the escape becomes a primary coping mechanism, leading to neglect of personal, professional, and social responsibilities. This can manifest in addictive behaviors, such as excessive drug use, overeating, or an unhealthy obsession with digital media. Such behaviors are characterized by a reliance on the escapism activity to the extent that it becomes a detriment to one’s health, relationships, and ability to function effectively in society. Unhealthy escapism often masks underlying issues, such as low self-esteem, unaddressed mental health conditions, or unresolved personal conflicts, and can exacerbate these problems over time.

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