Betty often felt spaced out when she was at home alone.  She was so used to going and working hours on end that she felt anxious when she had downtime.  What “should” she be doing?  She was exhausted, but she felt guilty for resting.  She would lie down on the couch and space out.  Her brain felt like mush.  She was running on adrenaline so often that her body would eventually wear down and crash.

Sam had just lost his father due to a sudden and unexpected illness.  When he sat in class, he couldn’t focus.  He felt like he wasn’t there.   He didn’t feel real; it was almost as if he was sleepwalking.  He started to be confused as to what was real or a dream.  He began to worry about passing his exams.

Anne would feel like she was out of her body and do aggressive things she wouldn’t normally do when arguing with her husband.  When she came back into her body, she felt ashamed and shocked.

Why do I feel spaced out?

From time to time, we might space out or check out.  The reasons can be different depending on the situation and the person.  Sometimes, our brain gets tired and needs to rest.  Other times, our mind might be dissociating to avoid pain.  During trauma or a shock, our brain might numb out as a way to survive.

Sometimes the dissociation happens when we least expect it, and it can create more distress. Here are some things to consider if you’ve been numbing out:

1. Are you exhausted?

Is your brain exhausted? When was the last time you took time to decompress and recharge?  How many hours do you work in a day?

2. Do I feel out of body?

Do you feel like your body isn’t yours? When do you dissociate?

3. Do you feel real?

Do you have feelings that you are separate from others or that you are living in a movie? Do you feel disconnected from others? Do you feel like you are floating?

4. Are you avoiding anything?

Sometimes, we can numb out when we try to avoid emotions, pain, trauma, grief, or stress. If you are avoiding, what can you tolerate feeling or looking at in small doses?  When you learn that you can tolerate your feelings, you might numb out less over time.

5. What is the frequency?

Spacing out or zoning out from time to time can be normal. If it is often happening and making you nervous, therapy can be helpful.

6. Is it disruptive?

If your spacing out or numbing out is hurting your relationships, school or career, if so, it’s best to seek help from a qualified professional.


If you feel like you need to talk to someone, please contact me to set up an online session via email

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Although I am a registered clinical psychologist with the Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology, I am not a licensed psychologist or any other type of licensed therapist in the United States. The information I am providing here is educational and informational. This social media page does not provide professional advice, nor does it create a professional-client relationship or any other type of relationship between us. You should always consult your own licensed mental health professional before making any changes regarding your mental health. My goal is to educate, guide, consult, and empower you regarding your mental health journey. Always consult your licensed mental healthcare provider(s) and never disregard or delay medical advice based on information posted on this page or post.