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Mind Blanking: What Happens When Your Brain Goes Foggy

mind blanking
Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Igor Shalyminov

When you find yourself staring into space and are no longer present, where does your brain go? Researchers have taken a closer look at the phenomenon of mind blanking.

We’ve all experienced the temporary escape from reality that occurs when you stare off into space. But have you ever found yourself wondering what happens during that time? Mind blanking is such a fascinating phenomenon that researchers have studied it to try to figure out why it happens and where we go. 

What is Mind Blanking?

Have you ever found yourself zoning out during an important meeting?
Have you ever found yourself zoning out during an important meeting?
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / StartupStockPhotos)

Have you ever been sitting around a table having a conversation with friends and you just seem to disappear? Although you are physically present, mentally you’re far away, and when someone brings you back to reality, you struggle to explain what you were even thinking about. 

Mind blanking is a waking state in which we don’t report any mental content. It’s different than mind-wandering, which is when you start thinking about unrelated things because you’re not engaged with what you’re doing. Mind blanking is more commonly referred to as zoning out

Why Does It Happen?

Mind blanking is an odd phenomenon that exists somewhere between sleep and wakefulness.
Mind blanking is an odd phenomenon that exists somewhere between sleep and wakefulness.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / paulnaude)

Mind blanking often occurs when you’re tired or after a long day, as you struggle to concentrate on anything specific and end up taking a mental break. That’s all well and good if your mind blanks while you’re just sitting on the couch, but can be problematic or even dangerous while driving or in the middle of an important meeting. 

Mind blanking can be brought on by a variety of factors other than tiredness including stress, anxiety, or feelings of being overwhelmed. A 2021 study suggests that attentional lapses likemind blanking are actually caused by the appearance of sleep-like activity within the awake brain. This challenges the idea that there are clear boundaries between sleep and wakefulness. 

When slow brain waves occur in the back part of the brain, where sensory information is processed, they can cause mind blanking and feelings of sluggishness. According to researchers, the fact that people feel a certain emptiness in their heads is probably due to the fact that it is very difficult to add new information to their consciousness during mind blanking. 

The important thing to note is that mind-blanking is completely normal, but if you find that this is happening to you more often, look to implement a good nighttime routine and get more REM sleep. If stress or anxiety is the root cause, try drinking some calming herbal tea

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