There's a line that divides escaping the stress of reality and avoiding it. The problem is that line is poorly drawn and often disappears when you approach. While habits like playing a video game or drinking a beer aren't dangerous in most situations, a subtle danger arises from the right combination of quantity and reason.
Escaping reality for a short time--relaxing with something entertaining, that feels good, or is a guilty pleasure--is a healthy practice. Everyone has their choice of activity to get de-stressed and stop thinking about life for a while.
Avoiding the stress of reality is dangerous, however. Becoming too absorbed in a certain method of stress relief can put off necessary obligations and dodge things that cause us unease. Going out of our way to avoid things that cause discomfort is to give our comfort zone a massive hug, and consent to being trapped in a cycle. That's the beginning down a road leading toward long-term unhappiness.
How can we pinpoint the difference between escaping and avoiding? There's no easy way to preemptively decide which is which. But self-reflecting and being honest with yourself can show which personal habits and activities either spread happiness or generate unhappiness. From there, the choice is easy.
Written January 30, 2020