Escapism plays an interesting role throughout one’s recovery journey. While escapism can be used to push away stressors or avoid daily struggles, it can also be a phenomenal tool of relaxation, depending on how it is used. However, not all individuals will engage with escapist outlets in the same way. Understanding the different forms escapism takes and how to approach it productively is essential for determining how an individual can incorporate its benefits in their recovery journey while avoiding its potential pitfalls.
What Is Escapism?
Escapism is the desire to seek distraction from one’s reality and the stress therein, commonly through the use of various entertainment media. These can include books, video games, movies — anything that can allow an individual to mentally and emotionally detach from an aspect of their lives and focus on something wholly different, whether it be a fictional world within a book or the levels and atmosphere of a video game.
Escapism is a powerful tool, allowing an individual to give their mind a break from the constant stress that may otherwise be present — especially during the recovery process. Coping with stressors, staving off urges or cravings while overcoming addiction, or avoiding the stresses of strained relationships or financial struggles are all common experiences that an individual may want to distance themselves from both mentally and emotionally from time to time.
However, while escapism can provide a needed break to those looking to manage their stress, it can also be a plight in one’s recovery journey if it isn’t one’s moderated or approached in a healthy way.
Managing the Use of Escapism
The use of various media can be instrumental in developing coping strategies or rewards systems; however, overuse can cause difficulties. Moderating one’s use of escapist strategies is essential during recovery.
Without putting time limits or otherwise moderating one’s use of escapist practices, it is easy to continue to use them to sidestep one’s building stresses and problems. While escapism is meant to distract an individual, it is important to remember that it doesn’t actively solve a problem; it only allows an individual to rejuvenate their minds and resilience to avoid burnout, fatigue and promote self-care. Addressing one’s struggles is still paramount to a fulfilling, sustained recovery. The overuse of escapist tendencies can leave gaps in one’s coping strategies or stunt the development of the emotional and mental resiliency required to support sustained transformation for one’s sober future.
Approaching Escapist Media With Intent
Intent is the best way to gauge one’s relationship with escapist practices. While some individuals will approach escapist media as a reaction to overt stresses in their daily lives, using them instead as a simple way to fill any downtime, or to the detriment of one’s other responsibilities, can have an adverse effect. Scheduling in time for self-care utilizing movies, books, video games, and more can be a fantastic way to explore one’s interests and sober identity, but it is also important to regiment their use in conjunction with other responsibilities so that one isn’t using escapist practices to avoid the stresses or responsibilities of reality.
Using Escapism as a Reward
For those in recovery, these escapist practices make great reward systems. In this sense, the individual can enjoy their time watching movies (for example) as a form of success, ensuring that they continue to treasure the practice while also demanding that the person tends to their other responsibilities first. This practice, such as getting to play a video game or reading a book after daily chores are all taken care of, can allow an individual to wind down peacefully after a long day of successfully coping with stresses.
Bridging Escapism and the Real World
Escapism is meant for entertainment, and there is a great deal of power in staying entertained. However, it can also be a tool for those in recovery looking to expand their use of such media as a coping strategy and address aspects of their identity.
By utilizing escapist practices as a means of character study or embracing life lessons, these tools can become incredible resources. As an example, approaching books or video games that explore the idea of grief, such as Stephen King’s Pet Sematary or Capcom’s horror video game title, Silent Hill 2, can allow an individual to challenge their understanding of grief and approach these sensitive topics in a palatable way. After using the media, these resources can be used as a catalyst for further conversation with friends, family, or professionals.
Escapism is a powerful recovery tool if moderated and harnessed with intent. At Avalon Recovery, we understand the need to balance the active stresses of tackling addiction and mental health concerns with the proper emotional respite, embracing the need for escapism as a recovery tool. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, trauma, or mental health concerns, we are ready to help you take the first step towards creating a healthy, balanced lifestyle today. Your time with us can be personalized to your unique needs and goals, filled with writing and art therapies, massage therapy, individual and group counseling, yoga, physical fitness, and even a seasonal ropes course. Balance is the key to any healthy recovery, and our caring professionals are prepared to help you find your balance of escapism and challenging advances in your recovery. For more information on how we can help you, call Avalon Malibu at (844) 857-5992 today.