Zoning Out vs. Zoning In 3 Ways You Can Stop Anxiety in it’s Tracks.

anxiety and stress

by, Dr. Lisa Herman

You’re anxious. What’s your go to coping skill?

For many, it’s to Zone Out.

You know you do this. It’s ok, I do this too. You are overwhelmed, tired, stressed, worn out, and have soooo much still to do to really complete your check list.

And – it’s 9:00pm.

Zoning out is not inherently a bad thing to do when your mind and body feel done for the day. Your mind needs a much needed mental break from having to exert so much energy during the daytime and your body only needs to relax for a bit and not move.

Zoning out can take shape in a variety of ways:

  1. Scanning Social Media sites for much longer than you intended to originally.
  2. Watching not one, but three Netflix shows in a row. Ok let’s be honest…maybe four in a row!
  3. Reading the news on your Ipad or starting a new book on your Nook.
  4. Going to sleep.

Our brain takes in so much sensory information in a day. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, our senses are scanning at a rate unimaginable!

Information transmission rates of the senses
sensory system bits per second
eyes 10,000,000
skin 1,000,000
ears 100,000
smell 100,000
taste 1,000


The discrepancy between the amount of information being transmittedĀ and the amount of information being processed is so largeĀ that any inaccuracy in the measurements is insignificant. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

I don’t know about you, but just seeing how much our brain does in a second is astonishing! No wonder Zoning out is so popular. It’s like our mind is doing thousands of mini marathons every second!

Let’s start to find balance and work with our emotions. Let’s also try to Zone In.

In the YouTube video above, I talk a bit more broadly about zoning out and zoning in with a few ideas on ways to deliberately spend quality time with yourself.

Let’s recap 3 ways you can stop anxiety in it’s tracks.

1. Be prepared to Zone In.

We cannot change that of which we don’t know. Simple, right? It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Start slow.

Keep a reminder on your phone to pop up once a day that says something like “Be Mindful” or “What do you feel?” so that you can have a prompt to allow you to take inventory of what you are feeling. Then CHOOSE the time that you want to spend Zoning In. Making this a priority will help with follow through.

2. Choose your Zone In skill of preference for that moment.

There are many coping skills that can be highly valuable. And best yet, they are free.

Here are some options:

  1. Step outside and feel the breeze and the air. Smell the dew and the new grass. Just pay attention to what you feel emotionally and name the feelings. For example, “I feel lonely today because I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t seen my family or friends, ” or “I feel overwhelmed with work, my sister’s health, and moving houses in the next few months.”
  2. Journal your thoughts, feelings, hard things and gratitude. Get connected with all of you. No judgement. Be honest (or as honest as you are capable of being at that time).
  3. Breathe purposefully using bubbles or Square Breathing. Research shows that being able to slow our respiration offer both physical and mental benefits that can last a lifetime. Remember, someone should hear your breathing in deeply, hold it, and blow out like you are blowing out birthday candles.

3. Now what? The conclusion or solution is in the process, not the answer (although one may come to you when you Zone In).

We are always so eager to fix and to solve. Sometimes, we just need to allow our emotions room to breath and “be” – and with this process will answers or solutions come to mind. Give yourself credit for doing something that is very hard to do!

Be good to yourself. Zoning in takes time, effort, and a lot of uncomfortable feelings. If you realize that you cannot engage due to a history of trauma or other life circumstances that make Zoning in too painful, please reach out for support from a licensed, trained therapy.

If you or someone you know would like support or treatment for anxiety, please know that eTherapy allows for greater flexibility in your life, reducing the stress of going to an office, driving to and fro and leaving school or work early to get the care you deserve.

Go to Synergy eTherapy website and click on “Let’s Get Started” to find a therapist that is right for you!


Dr. Lisa Herman is the owner of Synergy eTherapy and Clinical Psychologist licensed to practice with those who reside in the states of MN, WI and NY.

To schedule your FREE consultation with her, please click HERE.

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