Can You Run Away From Stress?
If you find yourself in a situation where life has become too stressful to bear, there’s a piece of advice you are inevitably going to get: “you can’t run away from your problems”.
There’s a simple idea behind it and it has a tendency to feel true. Behind the sentiment is someone telling you to stick at your problems, work for a solution, try to find a way through. You should face them head on rather than hoping they will just vanish. You can’t wish your way out of a bad patch in life.
That makes sense, so most of us knuckle down and try to get through to a point where we feel more positive.
But should we?
Is “Sticking It Out” The Only Option?
This side of the theory would suggest that seeing things through and facing up to our issues is the only way of coping with them. That’s a key phrasing too: the only way.
Here’s a thought: how many problems in life can be solved in just one way?
It’s strange that we’re told that the cure to life’s ills is to staying the course and remaining right where we are – as if it’s the only solution. The majority of the time, the hurdles in life are best cleared by being thinking for solutions, trying different things, reaching compromises with people. So do we have to be route one about staying right as we are to do these things?
Or is there another way?
Room To Breathe
If you find your life is not where you want it, conflicts have arisen, or you feel the pressing hand of stress on the small of your back at all times – then there’s a huge amount of value in giving yourself some room.
The phrase “room to breathe” has entered our vocabularies as a direct reflection of that. Of course, we all have physical room to breathe – but sometimes we need to give ourselves the chance to take a moment.
And here’s the kicker: sometimes, you can’t do that if you stay in the situation you’re in.
There are times when a situation, a life upset, a clash with a partner, or a job you hate, requires you to step away to give you some perspective. For a start, you need to evaluate how you feel about a job, a person, or a bad habit, when you have a clear head to do so. If you’re in the middle of the lake and feel like you’re drowning, that’s not going to be a good time to do it. Your mind is too cluttered with the panic of the problem itself to be able to swim to the solution at the shore.
Furthering this analogy, let’s say that running away or taking a break is a lifeboat. It’s not going to keep you going forever; you’re eventually going to have to leave it and return your feet to the ground. But the purpose of the lifeboat is that it can make sure that when you feet do hit the mud, you don’t sink, but stride on through.
Running away isn’t a cure, but it is a pause that gives you the opportunity to think of a cure.
How Can You Run Away?
It all depends on the severity of your problem and how long it has been going on.
The longer that you have been struggling with an aspect of your life, as a general rule, the more time it’s going to take you to recover yourself from it.
So for some issues – such as a fight with a partner or a rough week at work – a weekend away at a hotel could be just what you need. A change of scenery, a different experience, and most importantly time to reflect on the situation.
If you’re dealing with bigger issues like a chronic marital problem, hopelessness in your job or addiction, then you might need to run for a little longer. You could consider going to live with your parents for awhile, entering high-end treatment retreats, or just take a fortnight off work and go for day trips as and when you can afford to do so. There are always options for escape.
You might solve the problem and find a solution on the first night; or it might take until the 12th. The point is that you will have the time to do so, rather than having to juggle both the situation, your reaction to it in the moment, and how you can resolve it.
Is Running Away Weakness?
Absolutely not. In fact, it could be argued it’s a strength.
There are times when sticking it out is the worst possible option. Let’s say your marriage is going through a rough patch and you and your spouse are constantly arguing. You’re both more and more wound up every day, never settling one argument before you launch into another.
In that scenario, staying in the same space with someone who is clearly aggravating you (and vice versa) isn’t smart or strong – it’s being stubborn and bloody-minded. It takes strength to be able to face up to the fact a situation isn’t working for you and you need to do something different to find a solution.
The same applies to all the other problems that life throws. It takes extreme strength to acknowledge you have a problem with an addiction; that a job you have dedicated your life too isn’t working out; that a friendship you treasured has turned toxic. Don’t worry about being perceived as weak – worry about finding a way through with a new solution.
What If I Can’t Run Away?
This is a natural concern, of course – sometimes you don’t have the ability, the money, someone to care for the kids, or the stability that allows you to just run away and do something else for a period of time.
In these scenarios, try and find some breathing space where you can. Take your lunch break at work as an opportunity to go for a walk by yourself; clear space on weekends so you can have an evening without interruptions. It’s not a perfect solution to change your life, but then again, very few things are. Do the best with what you have and you’ll see your way through.