What It Means To Want To Run Away From Life (+ What To Do About It)

The drastic desire to run away from life is an extraordinary response to complicated feelings and circumstances.

Is it reasonable to want to run away from life? Well, sometimes it is. Sometimes we get so swept up in the constant barrage of things to do that we just want to cast it all aside in favor of a much-needed break.

Bills to pay, responsibilities to manage, work to do, housework to do, relationships and friendships to maintain – they all take physical, mental, and emotional energy.

The desire to run away may also come from unresolved personal problems like anxiety and depression.

The weight of life’s responsibilities is much heavier when you’re trying to navigate mental health concerns on top of everything you are worried about. At some point, your brain just says, “No! I’m not dealing with this anymore!” and wants to escape. That is more reasonable than you might imagine.

The problem is that it’s not necessarily going to do you any favors. After all, if you’re trying to run away from your personal problems that need work to overcome, those problems are just going to follow you no matter where you go.

The solution is to identify why exactly you feel like you need to get away. After you determine that, you can then make the right choices to deal with that desire.

Why do you want to run away?

What is stressing you out? What is overwhelming you?

The desire to run is often rooted in feeling overwhelmed. It’s best to start by identifying what is actually overwhelming you and how complicated it is. Some of the following examples might help you identify the stress.

MoneyMoney is a significant source of stress for a lot of people. It rarely seems like you have enough, especially if you’ve gotten slammed with an unexpected expense or two along the way. Or maybe the expected expenses have been stacking up – rent or mortgage, food, car repairs, student loans.

FamilyFamily is not always healthy or happy. You may find that much of your stress comes from dealing with certain family members, familial responsibilities, or expectations. If you have toxic or abusive family members, you will face much more severe stress than someone without.

RelationshipsFriends and romantic partners can add stress to your life, even if they are a wholesome and positive presence. They still bring with them responsibilities and expectations that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. Toxic or harmful friends can make that all the worse.

WorkWho doesn’t get stressed out about the responsibilities of work from time to time? You’re facing down deadlines, expectations, dealing with coworkers or customers, dealing with the boss, dealing with the boss’s boss. Maybe you don’t feel like you’re getting paid enough or are being taken advantage of.

Substance abuseIt’s pretty common for people to have a little something to help take the edge off. The problem is that substance abuse doesn’t really help you cope in a way that will provide a positive outcome.

A stressed-out person can make themselves numb with a few – or more – drinks, but that stress will be there when they wake up the next morning unless they find a way to minimize and navigate that stress.

Substance abuse adds to the stress because of the effect of the substance on the nervous system. It can contribute heavily to anxiety and depression in the long-term, though it may provide brief relief in the short-term.

Mental illnessMental illness is a broad category that encompasses a lot of different behaviors and perceptions. Some mental illnesses can cause a lot of additional stress purely by how they function, such as anxiety and depression disorders. Life circumstances combined with mental illness can cause stress if you have a hard time holding down a job, having relationships, or staying balanced.

These examples are far from the only stresses you may be experiencing, so don’t limit yourself to just these things. Consider anything that might be causing you stress or the feelings that are pushing you to want to run away.

What can you do about the desire to run away?

The obvious solution to your feelings of wanting to run away is to address and solve the problems you are facing – the source(s) of your stress.

But that’s not always possible. Not all problems can be dealt with quickly or easily, and so you have to find a way to cope with them.

As mentioned above, the desire to run away will almost certainly be accompanied by an intense feeling of being overwhelmed by these problems and circumstances.

Whatever the cause of that feeling, it can be reduced to more manageable levels once you put a manageable self-care routine in place. 

Life is busy, and it just doesn’t slow down for us to take a break. We must purposefully create time and space in our lives to rest and recharge our batteries before jumping back into the fray.

Some people look at self-care as something frivolous or indulgent. It’s not. Your brain is much like a muscle. If you work it too hard for too long, you can cause harm to it.

You need to have a break and let your muscles recover after you exercise to heal and become stronger. Similarly, your brain needs regular breaks from the stress and difficulty of life to ensure you don’t wear yourself out.

Self-care looks different from person to person. The important thing is that you’re getting a little break from the overall grind. Self-care can look like:

MeditationMeditation is a fantastic way to alleviate stress and process the emotions that you’re feeling. Now you may be thinking to yourself, “I can’t meditate! I can’t turn my brain off!” That’s a pretty good indicator that meditation would benefit you. It takes some time and effort to learn to meditate, clear your mind, and process your emotions, but it gets easier the more you do it.

ExerciseExercise can be a powerful tool of self-care because you can blow off extra energy and stress while improving your physical health. Taking a 20-minute walk a few times a week can provide massive physical and mental health benefits.

HobbiesHobbies are a great way to disconnect from responsibility so long as you don’t take on hobbies that add more stress to your life. They can even be a great way to get out, be social, and meet new people if you choose a social activity to get involved with.

Vacation or StaycationWe don’t always have the money to get out and away. Instead of running away totally, a temporary vacation or a staycation, as in you stay at home but disconnect from everyone for a little while, can be a great way to recharge your batteries. Let people know you won’t be available, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, and create some time for yourself to just relax.

Limit MediaLimit the amount of negativity you allow yourself to consume. The news is constantly filled with doom and gloom. The world is a rough place, sometimes rougher than others. And we have a 24/7 news cycle of that doom and gloom that is never going to end. It’s valuable to stay informed, but we all need to limit our consumption. If you continually swim in that anger and fear, it will make you anxious, depressed, and stressed out.

Self-care is one of those things that is simple, but not always easy. You can’t half-heart it; you have to dedicate yourself to doing the things that help relieve your stress and worry on an ongoing basis.

But, ultimately, to overcome that wish to run away, you need to make the situation you currently call “life” that bit more manageable and peaceful.

Do I need professional help?

Are you having a hard time identifying where you may need help or how to improve? If so, you may want to consider talking to a certified mental health professional to get to the root of your desire to run away.

It may not be easy for you to see. Sometimes we have blind spots where we can’t see or appreciate what stresses we might be under. Getting a neutral, third party opinion can provide meaningful insight that may help you find peace with your need to run away.

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