Friday, 3 August 2018

Snap Back To Reality: Escapism vs. Avoidance

escapism vs. avoidance sunset on beach

Everyone copes with situations differently. Coping mechanisms vary from person to person and even though it's nice to have one, it's important to evaluate yours. Despite your best efforts, you may actually be doing more harm than good. But how do you recognise when your escapism becomes avoidance and you need to snap back to reality? First, it's important to understand the difference between the two...



Escapism:

The concept of escapism is defined by the tendency to seek distraction and relief from the unpleasant elements of daily life. Common forms of escapism include reading, gaming, listening to music, watching TV or films and daydreaming, alongside a range of other artistic entertainment sources and fantasies. In moderation, escapism is perfectly normal and is actually necessary for mental health. However as with anything, too much has the opposite effect as it progresses into avoidance.

Avoidance:

Rather than simply providing yourself with an occasional outlet for stress, avoidance is characterised by partaking in escapism in copious amounts. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Wrong. If you're addicted to escaping reality, it can prevent you from progressing, reaching goals and developing personal relationships. By living in a fantasy, it leaves you running away from life rather than embracing and living it.

How To Snap Back To Reality:

Even though not particularly difficult, balancing your life with escapism and reality takes time, just like stopping a bad habit. However, instead of cutting it out completely, it's important to prioritise real-life experiences. For example, next time you're about to blow off plans with friends or family to watch Netflix or play a video game, get yourself out and schedule some time for yourself when everyone else is busy. This doesn't mean that you need to say yes to everything. If you agree to things you won't enjoy, it can have an adverse effect causing you to withdraw more than usual. Once you've found the right balance, the rest will come naturally.

If you find yourself struggling, it may also be beneficial to analyse exactly what it is you're trying to avoid. By sitting back and identifying your issues, whether it be financial difficulties, personal hardships or something else, it can help you to make sense of things. Chances are that you'll find whatever it is, it's better to face it than blank it out. After confronting something which scares you, it removes the fear factor and helps you to cope healthily.

Finally, remember that escapism does not need to necessarily be something 'useless' as such. Try and switch out binge-watching your favourite sit-com for 12 hours straight for the third time this year  and sign up to a class or online course instead. Substitute your battle for Fortnite wins with a new hobby that you can add onto your CV. Opportunities are everywhere, they do not need to be boring to be useful, and escapism can remain one of your most enjoyable and functional assets all at once.

How do you prevent escapism from becoming avoidance? 
Let me know in the comments section below or over on Twitter.

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