How Retreating into Fantasy Can Help You Deal with Reality

We’re taught that playing make-believe is for children — that as adults, our feet should be firmly rooted in reality. But when dealing with reality becomes too much to handle, a little foray into childish fantasy can be incredibly comforting and very beneficial for our mental health.

Dealing with Reality Can Be Exhausting

When I had my first daughter, I was obsessed with doing everything “right.” I was obsessed with making sure that every second of her day was taken up with stimulating, educational activities that were geared towards helping her reach each developmental milestone. (Side note: now, as a mother of a preschooler and a baby, I’m just happy if we get to the end of the day and everyone still has all their limbs).

I started watching Youtube videos by mommy bloggers — an elusive breed of perfectly coiffed and smiling women who film their daily routines and post them online. I watched as they got up at 4.30 a.m. to make every member of the family an avocado and kale smoothie in their immaculately clean marble kitchens, then prepared personalized educational and craft activities for all six immaculately behaved children, then took all six shopping and on playdates, then prepared a healthy dinner in that immaculately clean marble kitchen, then spent individual time with all six children, then bathed, read, and put to bed all six immaculately clean and immaculately behaved children — somehow managing to maintain the coiffed hair and smile throughout.

How Fantasy Can Help You to Deal with Reality

I knew it was a farce for the camera, and I comforted myself by thinking of these women eating cheese in front of the fridge at 3:00 a.m. after a day spent dealing with toddler meltdowns and baby vomit. I did take something from these videos, however.

When I found myself struggling with the physical and mental load of motherhood, I started to imagine that I was filming videos for my very own (non-existent) Youtube channel. When I was feeling unmotivated and exhausted, I imagined I was filming a video about simple games and crafts you can do at home with the kids. When I was struggling to stay calm in the face of a toddler tantrum, I imagined I was filming an instructional video on how to calmly deal with a toddler meltdown. Having an imaginary audience gave me the strength to carry on when I felt depleted, and I felt better every time I did it.

I am by no means suggesting that retreating into fantasy is an appropriate way to deal with all your problems or that it can take the place of proper mental health support, but I have found that a little bit of make-believe can provide short-term relief when the stress of daily life becomes overwhelming. So, instead of dancing like nobody’s watching, I say try (occasionally) living like everyone’s watching. Don’t forget to like and subscribe.

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