Escaping Reality to Heal
Many people are feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes a little escape can be healing.
Posted October 25, 2018 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
Sometimes the stressors of the modern world make us just want to scream. The constant bombardment of negative news and our continual connection to our technological devices can make us feel trapped, with a strong desire to escape.
Perhaps we just need some time alone to heal and nurture ourselves. When we have this feeling, it might be that our minds and souls are sending us messages. We’re being reminded that it’s time to step away and indulge in some self-care.
In her article “Looking for an Escape?” Julie Exline (2013) says that when she feels as if she has to escape, she typically needs to do so from people, tasks, “shoulds,” and negative thoughts.
At one time or another, just about everyone has had a profound desire to escape reality for a certain amount of time. It might be that we crave either a physical or an emotional escape.
For example, I’ve had the same spiritual guide for more than 10 years, and for as long as I can remember, she’s rarely taken any time off for herself. But just yesterday, she called to tell me that she’ll be off the radar for two weeks and won’t be taking any calls. While I was surprised to receive this call, I was delighted that she was taking the time to care for herself, because in this way, she can better care for her clients. Interestingly enough, her call came on the eve of a full moon. Probably not a coincidence.
There are both healthy and unhealthy forms of escape. The latter include mind-altering substances such as alcohol and cannabis. The healthy forms of escape are a better choice, and below are some ways to tap into them when times get tough and challenging and you just want to run.
Clear your mind: When considering this type of escape, you probably just want to clear your mind of all the daily clutter. One effective way to do so is to engage in meditation—find some quiet time for yourself, and focus on your breath.
Listen to music. Music is a great form of escape. Research has shown that it can help you relax and increase self-awareness.
Practice yoga. Yoga has many health benefits, but mainly it fosters relaxation, encouraging you to slow your breath, focus on the present, and balance the sympathetic nervous system. Overall, it is very restorative.
Chant. Chanting is also a good way to escape from reality; plus, it decreases stress and encourages a relaxation response. The most common chant is reciting the sound or mantra “Om,” which sends vibrations through your lips and palate and into the back of your throat. Regular chanting can encourage peace and serenity.
Daydream: Allow yourself to daydream, which is the perfect mental escape. Drift to another place or another land. A good time to daydream is when you’re working out or following your exercise routine, whether it’s at the gym or during a walk. Studies have shown that we daydream less as we get older, so it should be a habit that we maintain for as long as possible. As a child, I was accused of daydreaming, and while it came in handy during my life as a writer, it wasn’t something that was encouraged back then.
Visit a new place. Travel is a great escape and an excellent way to change your perspective. Often, when you return home from a trip, you have a new outlook on your daily life.
Take a virtual escape. Another form of escape can be a virtual one. For example, there’s a website called “A Second Life,” which allows you to totally immerse yourself in another life that is completely different from the one you’re living. For example, if you’re a senior citizen who used to be an avid hiker, this site can allow you to relive those experiences.
You might ask, what is behind the desire to escape? Well, it can be a result of the aging process, but it can also be a temporary way to withdraw from life’s stressors and challenges, whether it’s looking after a family or navigating health challenges. The escape method you choose will depend on the reason you wish to escape, what you’re escaping from, and the results you’d like to achieve. Consider trying one or all of the escape methods mentioned above.
Exline, J. J. (2013). “Looking for an Escape? The Impulse to Run Away from it All.” Psychology Today. June 1.