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The time is 9:48 pm and I’ve come across the most beautiful home at the foot of a mountain in Utah in the curated list RedFin has emailed me. It has exposed brick in the kitchen, wooden beams in the family room with a cozy fireplace, wall to wall windows, and enough rooms for all of my family and then some. It’s only a few hundred thousand dollars more than our current home. That’s not out of the question, right? I know we aren’t even considering selling right now but maybe we could. And then we could move our entire family across the country to a place we know nothing about and no one knows us. Yeah. That is a logical plan.
Or maybe I could just rearrange all the furniture in my current family room so it seems like a brand new house.
Or redecorate a bathroom complete with new paint and fixtures.
Or maybe I could give myself bangs.
Get a tattoo.
Read 3 books at once.
Binge a show late into the night.
Doom Scroll to migraine.
Anything to escape for just a little while.
We all need to escape the pressures of palace life (The palace being your body, not a fictional Arabian compound with an evil Royal Vizier). Finding the appropriate escape without completely losing yourself can be a struggle.
I began my search for healthy escapes when I asked my therapist of many years if she thought everyone had thoughts about ending their life at some point. She confidently said “No,” and proceeded to explain how suicidal ideation is a form of escape. We created a plan to change my escape from something that could not be undone to something healthier.
Step 1. Observe my environment to identify the motivating factor(s) to want to escape. Mine were usually events that I could not control.
Step 2. Validate those feelings with an “AND” statement. For example, if I was stressed out because I was struggling to find time to keep my house clean, I could say “I would feel better if my house was cleaner AND I am a great mother.” I have been conditioned to believe how clean my house is is directly linked to my value, which it is not. Recognizing that I can be both a good mother and have a messy house lessens the need to escape.
Step 3. Escape a little. Put my energy into something positive. Mindfulness plays a huge role here. Something anyone can do anywhere is scan your body. If you need to go to the bathroom to get some time away to do it, do it!
Close your eyes.
Take two slow deep breaths.
Start at the top of your head and slowly name parts of your body all the way down to your toes.
As you say the name in your head, visualize that part of your body.
Remember to take your time.
Repeat as necessary and be as specific as you need to be. You can do head, neck, shoulders, arms, stomach, legs, feet. Or you can do top of head, right ear, left ear, bridge of nose, etc all the way down to your toes (I prefer this second approach).
This 3 step process has transformed my escapes. My not so productive bouts are now more digitally involved. If I find myself staring at my rectangle without purpose, I sit back and ask myself why. It’s usually an attempt at connection. I wrote more about that in my post about taking a social media break.
Escape is inevitable. Take care of yourself and escape wisely.