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Immerse yourself

Escapist activities can manage exam stress, says Hayley Whelan

Student Life | Student View

By Hayley Whelan

The definition of escapism is engaging in an entertaining activity that distracts you from the worries associated with reality.

When exams are approaching and assignments are piled high, it is important to participate in activities that allow you to relax and forget about studying for an hour or so.

The most common of these among students are reading, playing video games and watching TV shows or anime.

Why do we gravitate towards these activities more than others? The level of escapism these mediums offer is unparalleled to less immersive tasks.

Reading a unique activity

Leisurely reading is becoming less and less common in the age of technology and the fact that the majority of university work involves reading doesn’t exactly motivate students to engage in reading on their own time.

It took me a long time to recognize the benefit of leisurely reading as an adult.

“[Reading] makes for a perfect pastime for someone who wants to experience adventure from the safety of their home.”

The truth is that I had forgotten what it was like to get lost in a book. Reading a book is like looking out a window into another dimension.

There is something about reading that makes me feel accomplished and educated in a way that reading scientific papers for a university class doesn’t.

It makes for a perfect pastime for someone who wants to experience adventure from the safety of their home.

Video games a perennial favourite

Playing video games is sometimes thought of as a hobby for children, but many of us students carry our love for video games into our adulthood.

The contentment we derive from the nostalgia of playing the games we played as kids or re-experiencing our favourite adventure with our comfort character is unmatched.

We also enjoy new games that don’t remind us of anything and instead take us through a brand new experience.

Video games consume our attention, removing us from the now and letting us focus only on our enjoyment of the game at hand.

Work and play a balancing act

Watching TV shows and anime are great ways to escape from your worries and focus on an entirely different universe where you are not the main character. You can become invested in the feelings and experiences of a fictional character.

Getting invested in a TV show or an anime series is an efficient way to provide yourself with downtime and motivate yourself to do work.

Watching one or two episodes of a show in between study sessions can provide you with a good balance of work and play.

Escaping stress

Why do students choose escapist opportunities?

We seek these hobbies to distract us from our worries and work so that when we are ready we can tackle our schoolwork feeling relaxed and not anxious.

Without an immersive hobby to keep us entertained in our free time, we might sit around brooding over what needs doing next.

“These typical methods of escapism are safe and healthy ways that we choose to take a break.”

Then, when the time has come to get back to work, we feel exhausted, anxious and frustrated.

Even students who love their discipline need to escape from the stress that being a university student brings.

These typical methods of escapism are safe and healthy ways that we choose to take a break.

Immersive experience

If you can embrace escapism without feeling guilt or regret, you possess a valuable survival strategy as a university student.

If you feel overwhelmed while studying during the upcoming exam period, I recommend branching out into one or all of these forms of entertainment.

These hobbies will provide you with an immersive experience that leaves little room for anxieties to creep in. Remember that it is always okay to take a break.

Escapism is not weak. It is not procrastination. It is simply a skill we use to separate work from play.

With escapism and the support of our fellow students, we will make it through exam week together.

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