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How to stop zoning out in order to overcome OCD

How to stop zoning out in order to overcome OCD

Zoning out is an important factor in the maintenance of OCD. It is a mechanism that we use unconsciously in order to deal with anxiety. It can translate into immediately dropping down on the sofa once you get home, watching the television without realizing what you’re looking at, checking FaceBook for hours, or playing games of short duration on the phone.

Why is it so attractive for us to do these kinds of activities? And why is it so difficult to stop doing them?

In this article we will explain why we zone out, how this influences in OCD and how we can stop doing it.

Why do we zone out?


An important factor in zoning out is that the activity can have slowly converted itself into a habit. It is an activity that we consider to be normal or “fun” but that actually does not really add anything important to our routine. As in many habits a certain level of addiction is involved in the habit of zoning out.

Passive addiction

On the other hand zoning out is a passive activity. We don’t have to put in any effort in order to receive a positive stimulus. The human brain is not used to getting rewarded for a lack of effort and can easily become addicted to it. The problem is that the real level of positive stimulation a passive activity can cause is at a minimum. Because of this it is even possible for us to notice a depressed mood in ourselves after watching the television or playing games of brief duration. This happens because we haven’t achieved anything: our brain does not perceive the “achievement factor” nor have we actually dealt with our situation.

Not focusing on our worries

Zoning out helps us with not having to think and with not having to be involved with our worries. With not having to act on what we’re bothered with. We slowly sedate ourselves up to a point in which we are in apparent homeostasis. However, this state only leads to frustration in the long run because we don’t manage what we really want to achieve.


Another factor that we associate with watching the television and other zoning out activities is that they “relax us”. However, when we watch the television we don’t really relax, actually we’re only providing our brain with passive impulses so we don’t have to actively do this ourselves.

How does zoning out influence in OCD?

Zoning out is a way of escaping from and avoiding something. Zoning out is easy; it is much harder to live life. It leads us into getting into a state of stagnation which makes it difficult for us to get out of our comfort zone. In the same way we lose time that we could use for activities that could bring us happiness, challenges and possible ways to overcome OCD.

How can I stop zoning out?

In order to stop zoning out you have to train your level of consciousness. You have to become aware of what you are doing and even more so of what you’re running away from. In what follows we will explain in detail what you can do to stop zoning out.

Eliminate all activities which allow you to zone out

As a first step you have to eliminate all activities which allow you to zone out. Watching the television, checking FaceBook, playing games of short duration on your pone, checking videos on YouTube etc. This can be very difficult but it will help you a lot with the next step.
Once you’ve done this it is possible you find yourself in a void and that you ask yourself: “What do I do now”? This is the moment when you have to start implementing activities which motivate you and are actually interesting to you.

Try to think about activities that would make you feel gratified and would be a challenge to you. Satisfying activities are important in order to be congruent with yourself. You have to see them as your therapy. Don’t let other activities get in the way of them. Examples of gratifying activities could be: traveling, studying, dancing, cooking, being in nature, doing creative activities etc. Activities which suppose a challenge to you are also important in overcoming OCD. Examples are: rock climbing, acting classes, kickboxing, horseback riding; as long as they cause you a little bit of anxiety. The moment you intensely activate the central nervous system, you will relax, and this time for real.

Elevate your level of consciousness

Another important part of stopping to zone out is to start elevating our level of consciousness. We have to grow and start a process of individualization. A powerful way to become more conscious and aware of our interior world and to learn how to really relax is to learn Mindfulness. Mindfulness consists of a series of meditation and relaxation techniques. It is easy to implement in your daily life and provides you with many (even health) benefits. Other ways to elevate your level of consciousness are: reading deep/profound books, get involved in religious/spiritual activities, or to start creative activities such as painting or playing an instrument.


The next step is to observe what you are running away from. This is a difficult step and many people think they are only trying to distract themselves from their OCD symptoms. However this is not true. Behind OCD there is always a more profound anxiety. This anxiety is usually related to the fact that we are unsatisfied with a certain part of our life. It could be that we have wanted to leave our job for a while and start our own company. It is possible that we have taken decisions which have been influenced by the people around us. Maybe we have gone away from what we really feel passionate about, pr maybe we haven’t even given ourselves the chance to find out what that is.


Once we have observed what it is that bothers us or with what part of our life we are unhappy with, we have to start getting into action. We have to break our routine and choose what really satisfies us; we have to confront those who treat us wrongly, and we will have to make changes in our life that maybe won’t be approved of by our environment. This means that we will have to get out of comfort zone which as we all know is not easy. However, it is the only way to overcome OCD.

As you have seen, zoning out makes it difficult for us to overcome OCD. That is why it is important to stop doing it and to fill up your newfound time with activities that satisfy you and at the same time elevate your consciousness. Finally you have to observe what you are running away from when you zone out and deal with your situation.

If you have been zoning out for a long time and you find it difficult to stop doing it, it is recommendable to look for professional help of a psychologist. If you would like to know more about how to stop zoning out or if you would like to Schedule an appointment feel free to contact us through Tel. 93 528 23 53 or through our contact form.

Lisette Zeeuw

Psicóloga Clínica