How To Stop Feeling Like I Just Want To Run Away

By Patricia Oelze

Updated December 19, 2018

Reviewer Christie LeBeau, LMFT


Feeling the desire to run away is a plight that many people face, contrary to somewhat popular belief. More often than not, when one hears the phrase "run away," they usually think of a troubled teenager from a broken home, and while this is an applicable example, struggling youth are not the only members of society who sometimes feel the urge to run away.

Before people can overcome the urges just to run away, they must first understand the psychology behind wanting to run away and also what triggers this desire.

The Psychology Behind Wanting To Run Away

More often than not, the desire to run away is often fueled by one's yearning to escape an unpleasant circumstance or situation. People who want to run away are usually stressed or otherwise discontent with their situation and desperately seeking a way out. Personal testimony from Psychology Today articulately explains the underlying causes of wanting to run away and other important, related factors.

A Real Life Story Of Wanting To Run Away

The writer in the personal testimony cites feeling overwhelmed by people, work demands, and negative thoughts as the reason behind her desire to run away. Not only did she grow "bummed out and burned out," but the writer also felt a sense of relief after finally "having something to look forward to." Finally, the preceding demands became too much for her, and she took some personal time to venture through the American Southwest and enjoy all that it had to offer.

As the Psychology Today writer journeyed to the American Southwest, she admittedly began to experience "freedom," "relaxation," and "the rhythm of the open road." Taking some time for herself allowed her to clear her head, fulfill some of her own needs, and create a sense of balance that was lacking before her expedition.


Ultimately, the writer enjoyed her trip to the American Southwest before returning to her work responsibilities which happened to entail a business conference. However, the "runaway" allowed her to assess her feelings and situation and furthermore understand what prompted her previous burnout and overwhelmingness.

In the end, the Psychology Today writer realized that she'd dedicated so much of her time to meeting the needs of others and doing what was expected of her that she neglected herself. Her time in American Southwest opened her eyes and allowed the writer to understand that to fulfill her work obligations successfully and responsibilities to others, she needed to take care of herself first.

Avoiding Burnout Before It Begins

Most people in 2018 are incredibly multidimensional beings. No two people are exactly alike, although virtually everyone has various obligations and responsibilities in this day and age. People have careers, spouses, children, families, and other demands which require time and energy. While getting caught in the weeds or scheduling every minute of our waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours for something or someone, this is incredibly unhealthy and will eventually breed burnout if not brought to a swift and speedy halt.

Burnout is the mother of the desire to run away. Burnout is defined as "physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress," and far too many people experience this unfortunate state due to attempting to take onto too much or, as noted by the Psychology above Today writer, by failing to take time for themselves. At the end of the day, each person's number one responsibility should be to themselves.

This does not mean that individuals should neglect their personal or professional obligations; however, it entails understanding that each person's responsibilities to others are considerably easier to fulfill, and will likely be fulfilled to a better extent when they are in good health, be that physical, mental, or emotional health.

Additional findings from Psychology Today affirm that balance is the best combatant against burnout. A person who dedicates all of his or her time to career obligations is more likely to burn out than the individual who dedicates time to his or her career, but also to family, exercise, and free time. Often, people cite busyness as the reason for the lack of balance in their lives, which ultimately engenders burnout. Taking time out of a seemingly impossible busy schedule is not always the easiest task at work. However, it must be done for the sake of one's mental, emotional, and even physical health.

The Positive And Negative Aspects Of Running Away

The term "running away" generally has negative connotations and understandably so. However, there are certain circumstances where temporarily "running away" can have upsides and benefits which may not always be readily apparent. For instance, going on weekend vacation or taking time to visit a new city can expand one's worldview and provide belief temporarily from the plethora of demands which seemingly never end.

Sometimes, a brief "run away" can provide the balance that one needs and, as the Psychology, Today writer noted, allow people to relax, take care of themselves, and return to their responsibilities with a clearer head. Sometimes, various aspects of one's day to day life can appear less daunting once they've had time away.


Of course, in the majority of cases, running away is a cry for help and follows when one feels the end to break away due to burnout, extreme stress, or a seeming lack of options. In certain unfortunate cases, teenagers run away from home due to abuse, neglect, or other unsavory living situations or conditions. While young people may believe that running away will solve their problems and provide relief, in many circumstances, running away has the opposite impact.

The forlorn reality is that more often than not, teenagers who run away are simply not experienced or equipt enough to live on their own and make something of themselves. Independent living without help from family or friends requires financial security, income, various resources, and general knowledge of how the world works. The preceding things take time and skills to acquire and maintain. Young people who run away often fall victim to drugs, prostitution, trafficking, or even death. In many ways, the world is a very dangerous place for those who are ill-prepared or financially insecure.

There are many desirable and productive alternatives to running away. Young people and individuals of all ages deserve to be made aware of these alternatives; it may very well save their lives one day.

Alternatives To Running Away

For one to stop wanting to run away, they must first understand what is causing their desire to run away and then be made aware of existing alternatives. Rarely does simply running away from a troublesome situation solve the problem.

Ditch The Label cites conversing with an outside source, listing the pros and cons of running away, and engaging in a physical or enjoyable activity as healthy alternatives to simply running away. One of the ultimate realities of life is that we will each be faced with challenges or difficulties that must be overcome. However, this is not always a bad thing. Often, the ability to persevere strengthens the individual and allows them to acquire wisdom and experience that they previously lacked.

Although experiencing and facing life challenges is inevitable, these obstacles do not always have to be faced alone. Knowing that someone is in our corner or supporting us can make a monumental difference and help one see that an illusionary mountain is, in reality, a mere molehill.

If Your Life Is At Risk

Despite one's best intentions, not all problems can be remedied with a simple vacation or momentary break. Sometimes, people are faced with real danger and trouble. Sometimes, the desire to run away is triggered by abuse, neglect, or other unsavory, and potentially life-threatening circumstances. Regardless of age, any individual who is plighted with abuse or any life-endangering situation should immediately leave the physical environment and then notify the proper authorities.

Some situations are graver than others, and people who are facing immediate threats to their wellbeing should promptly find the nearest escape. Documenting the abuse or neglect with a trusted individual can also come in handy for legal purposes.


A Final Word

No human being deserves to feel as though his or her only way out of a stressful or daunting situation is to run away. Meetings one's responsibilities and obligations are paramount. However, self-care is of equal importance. The best way for individuals to cease feeling as though they want to run away is avoiding the inevitable buildup of stress and lack of balance which eventually breeds the desperate desire to escape.

As previously stated, the existence of a strong support system and people to converse with can greatly help someone through challenging times or situations.

Here at BetterHelp, we pride ourselves on the ability to connect with each person who comes to us and provide care and guidance regardless of the individual's circumstance. Sometimes, this can be as simple as sitting down and having a discussion or providing advice to someone who may be in need. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but if you ever feel in need of a listening ear, advice, moral support, or help in another form, don't hesitate to reach out to us. You can get started with BetterHelp by clicking here.

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