The first post on healthy escapism is on reading, and this is purely because it is without a doubt my favourite way to distract myself from any of my own worries, as well as calm myself down and ground myself.
Often, the most common suggestion made to people suffering from mental health issues is exercise, fresh air, “get out and about!” or “you just need to get your blood pumping!” are things that can often be heard over and over again.
The problem is that when people are in the midst of a mental health crisis, getting out of bed can be an Everest size climb in itself.
Literature is a beautiful way to escape intrusive thoughts from the comfort of your own home. Research has found that one of the main psychological benefits of reading is the ability it gives one to be able to relate to others, and different ways of looking at the world.
In the midst of a mental health crisis, changing our outlook can be incredibly helpful and can often move us a step closer to lifting the fog and realising that the way we are thinking right this minute is temporary and will pass.
Personally, I find it easiest and most enjoyable to escape into non-fiction books, specifically autobiographies. Reading the autobiography of a person who interests you, for whatever reason, can be a form of comfort and can, in a strange way, make one feel slightly less alone.
Getting lost in somebody else’s story, whether fictional or non-fictional for a while can allow us to get out of our own, even if just for a short while. Even better is when we are able to relate so closely to a character that in some way we are able to find answers to our own problems in their stories.
Besides from reading a book, for somebody in the go podcasts are a fantastic way to fit a bit of escapism into a busy routine. My favourite at the moment is Maya Jama’s ‘When life gives you melons’ but there is a huge variety of E-books, documentaries and interviews available on the internet.
Podcasts can be integrated into walks, waits in queues, public transport or even a lunch break in a way that sometimes books cannot, but their distracting and comforting effect is very similar.
On a more practical note, integrating reading into your daily routine can improve sleeping patterns. Specifically reading a couple of chapters of a book before bed (not from an e reader as bright screens) can help us to wind down, and as we all know, a healthy and long sleep can do absolute wonders for our mental health.
At the moment, there is a wealth of mental health literature emerging that can be really directly helpful, but aside from that there is a whole world of escapism waiting for you. My next post will discuss how music can be a healthy form of escapism in much the same way as reading can.