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Are Zone Out

author
Ellen Grant
• Tuesday, 12 January, 2021
• 7 min read

Ever spaced out over a long, difficult book and realize you haven’t read a single word in 10 minutes? It’s also pretty common to experience prolonged spaciness or brain fog if you’re dealing with grief, a painful breakup, or other difficult life circumstances.

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Contents

In these cases, zoning out can serve as a coping tactic of sorts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Zoning out is considered a form of dissociation, but it typically falls at the mild end of the spectrum.

This can happen when your brain recognizes that you can complete your current task, whether that’s folding laundry or walking to work, without really thinking about it. Still, the following factors can make you more prone to zoning out, even when the task really does require your full attention.

This is often a coping tactic that helps you keep stress and overwhelm at a distance until you feel equipped to deal with them. If you’ve gone through any kind of trauma, this tendency to zone out might border on more severe dissociation.

In the face of extreme stress, some people respond by shutting down, or completely detaching. Shutdown dissociation can affect function in the central nervous system, which can lead to a more total absence of presence.

Understanding of who you are the ability to manage your emotions control over bodily movements Plus, when you’re really involved in doing something you enjoy, whether that’s drawing, working out, playing video games, or reading your favorite book, you might feel totally absorbed and not notice what’s happening around you.

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If you zone out to cope with something difficult, like an argument with your partner or a lecture from your boss, you might feel less distress at the moment. Maybe you zone out while driving on the freeway because you’ve driven the same route every day for the past 7 years.

Still, even though you know the road well, losing focus while driving can easily lead to an accident. Dissociation can have a protective function when people, especially children, can’t escape from a traumatic or distressing experience.

Logging these episodes can give insight into any patterns of mind wandering and help you take note of your thoughts before zoning out. If you’re washing dishes, for example, stay present by thinking about the fragrance of the dish soap, the roughness of the sponge, the temperature of the water, and the satisfaction you feel when you get a filthy pot sparkling clean.

Good self-care techniques can help you manage stress and overwhelm more easily, which can make zoning out less likely. Short, frequent breaks to stretch, rest, and have an energizing snack can increase your productivity and concentration.

Generally speaking, you don’t need to worry about zoning out occasionally, especially if it happens mostly when you’re engrossed in a task, and it doesn’t seem to have any negative effects on your daily life. But frequent daydreaming, mind wandering, or brain fog can sometimes be symptoms of other issues, including ADHD and depression.

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It’s important to talk to a healthcare professional if your zoning out is accompanied by other systems, including: If your child appears to be daydreaming but doesn’t respond when you try to get their attention, it’s a good idea to see their pediatrician.

Getting in the zone while enjoying a good run and realizing you’ve lost track of the last few minutes probably isn’t something you need to worry about. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health.

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia. To lose focus or stop paying attention to something, usually unintentionally.

I think I must have zoned out during that lecture, because when it was over I realized I didn't remember anything the professor said. Jerry kind of zones out when he plays video games, so you have to be really loud to get his attention. To intentionally ignore or block out certain stimuli, distractions, etc.

When you're playing, you have to zone out everything except what's happening on the field. I know Aunt Lula can be aggravating, but she's only here for a few days, so just try to zone her out. Stop paying attention, dissociate oneself from a situation.

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It originally alluded to narcotic intoxication and then was broadened to other kinds of dissociation. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Hammer.

To lose concentration or become inattentive: I sensed the class was zoning out, so I started talking louder. To lose awareness of one's surroundings: An hour after I took the cough syrup, I lay back in bed and zoned out.

To refuse to pay attention to someone or something; ignore someone or something: The athlete zoned out the jeering crowd and made the free-throw shot. To cause someone or something to lose awareness of one's surroundings: The medication that I take zones me out.

To exclude someone or something by restricting a section of an area or territory: Farmers complain that the government has zoned them out of the best farmland. The city zoned out adult entertainment companies.

Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Word lists shared by our community of dictionary fans Phrasal Serbia you zone out, you stop being aware of what is happening around you, either because you are relaxed or because you are bored.

To lose focus or stop paying attention to something, usually unintentionally. I think I must have zoned out during that lecture, because when it was over I realized I didn't remember anything the professor said. Jerry kind of zones out when he plays video games, so you have to be really loud to get his attention.

To intentionally ignore or block out certain stimuli, distractions, etc. When you're playing, you have to zone out everything except what's happening on the field. I know Aunt Lula can be aggravating, but she's only here for a few days, so just try to zone her out.

In a state of suspended focus, attention, or awareness, as due to boredom, fatigue, or intoxication. “The pain medication the doctors gave me is really strong, so I've been pretty zoned all day.

McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. To be so interested in your own thoughts, your brain stops focusing on the reception from your senses.

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You only snap out of it when, 1) you realize you zoned out and subsequently “come back into the real world”, 2) something happens that catches your attention, like say a major movement in front of your face, or 3) someone says your name. When the principle came into to talk to us about Jacob running away from school on his long board, I was so bored by that old hag that I had to zone out in five seconds.

I snapped out of it when she stopped talking, and guess what I was thinking about? I don’t mind zoning out when I’m watching Netflix or reading a book, but I always freak out when I’ve been driving for a little and can’t remember the last couple of miles.

Experts, like Stephen Pores, have theorized that dissociation, or zoning out, is one step past our fight-or-flight response. When your mind feels overwhelmed, whether you recognize it or not, your body may bypass fight or flight, going directly to the ‘freeze’ reaction.

A person can tune out in a variety of different situations, like ones that involve “highly focused attention, or repetitive, low stimulation experiences, or even strong and emotionally evocative events.” For instance, young people may use dissociation as coping mechanism when feeling threatened.

Everyday examples of dissociation can range from zoning out, to daydreaming, to your mind going completely blank, to having an out-of-body experience. One article describes dissociation like a computer that reaches overload for input and then has to shut down for a bit to reboot itself.

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They mention that almost one-third of people say they have felt like they were watching themselves in a movie while zoning out, and 4% actually say they feel that way as much as one third of the time. These dissociative experiences happen the most during one’s youth and then start to decline after people turn 20.

Occasionally daydreaming or spacing out is completely normal, but when the dissociation starts interfering with everyday life, you might want to consider reaching out for help. For a couple more suggestions, techniques as simple as listening to your favorite song, snapping a hair tie on your wrist, or writing down your to-do list can also help bring you back to reality.

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