You had big plans for this pandemic. You were going to learn a new skill, start that online business, declutter you house. Instead, the days have become a blur.
Why are you spacing out in self-isolation, and should you be worried?
In some cases we are 'out to lunch' due to simple physical lethargy. Life in lockdown means less physical activity and less oxygen in our blood. Or perhaps we are eating comfort foods that see our blood sugar crash, or are not sleeping as well with new pandemic worries.
If it’s a matter of not having the usual routine of work and social life to fill your hours with, and now simply have more time to let your mind wander? Then try to go with it. It might be a case of 'postiive boredom'.
A study at the University of central Lancashire found that when asked to brainstorm uses for plastic cups, it was a group that had been forced to be bored first who came up with the most interesting answers.
But if you are stressed and upset since the pandemic started, then it might be that spacing out is related to mental health issues.
Really stressful experiences trigger our ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response, which sees our bodies flooded with a cocktail of chemicals. This can mean buzzy highs, but also crashing lows when the cortisol wears out.
But even low level stress can leave us a bit 'braindead'.
If your 'pandemic panic attacks' have died down, but you still have worries running around the back of your mind, about job security, finances, what the future holds? It takes up mental bandwith. End result? You head can feel foggier than usual.
Depression can be very physical. Our limbs can feel made of lead, and simple tasks can feel exhausting. And part of this can be 'brain fog', like trying to think through cotton wool.
Learn more about symptoms on the NHS website's depression page.
Is spacing out is something you’ve experienced in the past when life was stressful? You might be suffering from dissociation.
Dissociation is an ingrained coping mechanism that tends to develop during a stressful childhood. It means that stress sees you 'checking out'. You feel like you are floating out of your body, or watching yourself from a distance.
As children we can’t just walk out the door and live on our own if we are stuck facing hardship or trauma. To cope, we learn to let ourselves ‘float away’, as if the stress is happening to someone else.
The trouble is that this habit can continue into adulthood when we actually could step away or sort things out.
To stop this habit we need to face and resolve the traumas that caused the coping mechanism from developing in the first place.
If you are spacing out, but you have the same levels of 'pandemic stress' as your friends, and are quite frankly bored? Maybe not.
But if you are spacing out and have increasingly negative thoughts, or if your spacing out is a long-term problem when it comes to stress? Then it would be a good idea to seek some support.
Time to stop zoning out and start feeling in control? Find your perfect therapist now and start talking.