If you’ve noticed your feeling spaced out, unmotivated, and fatigued during everyday tasks and activities, you might have experienced a “mental check out.” It’s actually a pretty common phenomenon, and can actually fall under diagnosed mental health disorder.
This article will dive into how to spot a mental check out, so you know what to do the next time your struggling with being present.
What’s A “Mental Check Out?”
A “mental check out” can be described spacing out or dissociating from your current surroundings. It can also be described as being so physically and mentally tired that you’re unmotivated to be emotionally present, similar to burnout. This can happen after a stressful event like meeting a deadline, losing a job, working overtime on weekends, or any situation requiring intense amounts of focus, mental motivation, and drive. If there’s conflict in a relationship between a spouse, friend, or family member, the emotional energy used can drain you to the point of numbness.
Everyone mentally checks out once in a while, but if it occurs on a weekly to daily basis, there’s a chance it’s a symptom of dissociative identity disorder or depersonalization/derealization disorder. Although this variation of mentally checking out is more extreme, and is accompanied by memory loss, alterations in identity, and usually results from trauma and abuse.
Even the recent pandemic left individuals overwhelmed dealing with job losses, transitioning to isolation, returning to social distancing, and losing loved ones. It can be enough to make anyone mentally check out or emotional switch off.
Read more: Understanding Why Your Mental Health Matters
How To Spot A Mental Check Out
Here’s how you can spot a mental check out.
- You’re unmotivated: Do passions or hobbies still entertain you? Perhaps your in the middle of a party or social event, and you don’t have the energy to get involved. This is different than feeling physically tired where you’ll feel better after a good nights rest (even thought that can help). You might mentally check out after simple tasks or doing the bare minimum like eating or moving.
- You’re feeling numb or emotionless: If you’re feeling a lack of care or commitment to anything around you, chances are you mentally checked out. But, that’s okay. It’s gonna feel challenging to connect with your emotions or engage with what’s around you. For example, you might seem apathetic during serious or important conversations with friends or spouses.
- You feel less productive than usual: If you’ve had a mental check out, it might be hard focus on or meet deadlines at school, work, or with personal responsibilities. You might get easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or feelings, and you may notice managers, supervisors, or educators become agitated or concerned with your performance. ‘
- You feel physically exhausted: Mental checkouts can make you feel physically exhausted. You might have a lack of energy, persistent tiredness, and trouble sleeping. This can eventually affect your physical and mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and weight gain or loss.
Where Do People Mentally Check Out?
Mental checkouts can be triggered by certain situations or environments. Some of the most common include:
- At work or school: Stressful school and work environments can cause anyone to mentally checkout. Overwhelming and demanding physical or mental tasks can slowly make you feel less productive, motivated to complete or take on tasks, or eager to meet standards. This can could lead to negative performance reviews, grade drops, failed classes, or employee termination.
- In relationships: Feeling like your mentally checked out of a relationship is quite common. Once the initial “honeymoon phase” of a relationships passes, some individuals can become disconnected from their partner, either from challenging dynamics or unresolved conflicts. In any type of relationship – be it romantic, friendship, or family – problems that haven’t been addressed, misunderstandings, or not feeling appreciated can all lead to a sense of distance and disconnection.
- In your personal life: Doing the same boring and repetitive tasks every day, without any change or excitement, can make people mentally check out. They might start feeling unenthusiastic and just go through the motions of their daily life without much interest.
How To Mentally Check Back In
Mentally checking back in can seem challenging, but after some personal reflection and a few new goals, it’ll become easier to spot a mental check out and bring yourself back to the moment.
- Reflect on yourself: Take time to think about why you feel mentally checked out. Look for the root causes, like work stress or personal issues. Perhaps you’ve taken extra responsibilities at work or started a more challenging class. Understanding these issues can help you deal with them better.
- Be mindful: Try mindfulness exercises to bring your focus back to the present. Deep breathing, meditation, or grounding techniques (focusing on your senses) can help you reconnect with the here and now. It’s about bringing yourself back into the present moment by channeling your thoughts and feelings into your physical body. Try focusing on each part of your body individually, starting with your toes until you reach your head.
- Set meaningful goals: Define clear goals that matter to you and match your values. Having a purpose can reignite motivation and give you direction. Write of list of things that make you comfortable or feel mentally present. Try breaking big goals into smaller, achievable steps for a sense of progress. Then, you can reward yourself with small gifts at each milestone, like taking yourself out for coffee once you finish a college thesis or project.
- Seek support: Share your feelings with trusted friends, family, or co-workers. Talking to others can help you feel validated and gain perspective. Spending time with friends, family, and love ones, and engaging in social activities fosters a sense of belonging. If you don’t have a large social circle, try interacting with local online groups that focus on a hobby or sport you enjoy, like a board game group or volleyball pick-up game.
- Take care of yourself: It’s incredibly important to prioritize self-care. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise regularly, and do things that make you happy and relaxed. Taking care of yourself holistically boosts your energy and well-being. If you ever feel like you want a mental reset, try taking a shower to reboot. The sense of freshness can make it easier to tackle tasks you may have set aside.
Benefits Of Mental Health Housing
It can be hard to mentally check back in if you’re surrounded by an unsupportive environment. If you’re living with family members or guardians who don’t encourage or believe in prioritizing mental health, you can quickly neglect self-care and burn out. If you’re surrounded by friends or family who encourage substance abuse, you can quickly fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms, turning to addictive drugs whenever you mentally checkout. Working on your mental health requires an environment dedicated to your personal goals and wellbeing.
Mental health housing is perfect for individuals who want to get away from unhealthy environments or situations, providing them with dedicated time and resources to mentally check back in and heal. These programs are partnered with outpatient mental health treatment, therapists, 12-step programs, and other resources dedicated to giving you the space you need.
Contact Riviera Recovery
If you or someone you know is struggling with mentally checking out or a mental health disorder, and wants to know more about mental health housing, contact Riviera Recovery. Our mental health housing programs in West Los Angeles, California, or perfect for men, women, and non-binary individuals who want a dedicated space for healing and recovery. Residents are surrounded by compassionate and empathetic supportive peers and staff members who can listen and provide much needed encouragement. Call today, and one of our admissions agents can help you get started or answer any questions.