Education
Escapism and Mental Health

Escapism and Mental Health

Trigger Warning: Mentions of anxiety, drug use and unhealthy coping mechanism

With time, everyone has been returning to their regular offline schedules. The work pressure and responsibilities are now hitting harder after being lesser over the last two years. Deadlines that have to be met and work quality has to be top notch, connectivity issues can no more act as a shield between one and the institution. The feeling of everything happening together can be quite overwhelming for office workers returning to their regular schedules, or students stepping into a new academic setting. The urge to take a break from everything, to give oneself time, is quite overpowering but we don’t have time to do so.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on most of our mental health. Many people did experience stress, fear, anxiety, loneliness etc. there were relationships that were lost, some very unexpected but most of us did experience these emotions that for some might have escalated into issues. These emotions are quite hard to deal with and therefore there can be few coping mechanisms that people turn to. 

For a person going through these emotions, escaping or putting those issues in a backseat would provide them with relief. These feelings and thoughts are much harder to face and deal with. Trying to ignore them seems like a very appealing option, and this is how escapism ties in. 

By definition, escapism is trying to seek comfort in distraction and finding relief from unpleasant realities – a coping mechanism. Sometimes escapism might be practiced unknowingly too, overloading ones self with work and college events also sometimes provide an escape from one’s thoughts. There are many ways one attempts to escape from their reality – reading books, listening to music, exercising, meditating, dancing and much more. 

However, not all these coping mechanisms are particularly healthy. The tendency of escaping one’s problems, at times, might lead to them turning to alcohol or drug use, which could cause more problems in the future. The thrill of escapism is quite addictive. To live those moments free from ones thoughts and anxieties is quite an addictive feeling and the thought of getting back to in routine, going forward with it, makes it difficult to return to one’s regular life. 

However, escapism can hurt one’s mental health, as it can lead to feelings of guilt and regret. This is tied to the values that society has ingrained in our minds, that if we do not get the material rewards of our efforts, we aren’t being productive enough. This cycle of wanting to be productive all the time without taking some time for oneself, is known as hustle culture. This phenomenon leads to one not being able to take a break, and could lead to several mental health issues like anxiety, sleep disturbances, etc. At times, it could even impact one’s physical health. This may lead to negative or destructive thoughts too. However, it is interesting how hustle culture can also be used as a form of escapism. 

Escapism seems like a great option to people looking for a temporary escape, but one has to understand that it does not, in any way, solve their problems. Escapism only provides a cloud or a blurry sheet in front of the problems, which eventually has to be cleared. Escapism cannot be used as a long term solution. Eventually, when this sheet comes off, or the blurry cloud disappears, all the problems come crashing down onto the person, which can be quite overwhelming. 

Escapism cannot be classified and put into a box by  saying that it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but it is safe to say that escapism in copious amounts can be extremely unhealthy for a person.  

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