Mental health

Mindless Mode and Mental Illness

long-haired guinea pig
Image by Irini Adler from Pixabay 

My brain hasn’t been a happy place for several years, but sometimes, it’s more unhappy than usual. Sometimes that’s because my mood’s low, and sometimes it’s because depression has made mashed potatoes out of my brain. Whatever the reason, my tendency is to seek out mindless tasks to just power through and keep moving.

Illness has left me a pretty narrow range of things that have any interest for me. Watching tv or Netflix is okay, but it’s very passive, and I often like a more active form of mindlessness.

This blog is a great source of mindless activities that are at least somewhat productive but require little thought. Tidying up pages and old posts is an almost endless time sink. It’s mildly useful, as quite a few of my old posts still see visitors, but it’s entirely unnecessary. Yet as a mindless task, it’s perfect.

Lately I’ve had a combination of worse concentration and lower mood than usual, and on top of that, the world just feels icky. As I often do, I rely on mindless tasks to keep the day moving. I’ve been spending a buttload of time cleaning up old posts. I just googled buttload, because I no longer trust myself to know if terms or real or if I’ve made them up, and a buttload (or more specifically a butt) is an actual unit of measurement. Who knew?

I’ve got plugin installed called Yoast that makes recommendations for search engine optimization (SEO). According to Yoast, the readability of my posts sucks. I haven’t cared before what Yoast has to say about that, nor do I care now, but it works very well as a robotic time sink. So over the last while, I’ve been going back to old posts and breaking up long sentences and decreasing the use of passive voice. It’s tedious, but that’s why it works.

Another time sink, although it isn’t anymore because the issue is resolved, was fussing around with developer tools in Google Chrome to try to figure out why my page layout was dancing around when pages first loaded. I spent far more time on it than it warranted, but that’s part of why it was useful.

I’m not sure why I find tedious technical tasks to be the most effective mindless time waster for me. I think in part it’s because it makes time seem to move faster. It may also be partly because I’m a geek, and I get some geeky satisfaction out of getting technical tasks done. Plus there’s the “reward” of seeing Yoast’s red unhappy face change to an orange neutral face.

And who knows, maybe that red unhappy to orange neutral face shift is just what I’m trying to do on a personal level. On the other hand, maybe the world really is going to hell in a handbasket. Hard to say either way.

49 thoughts on “Mindless Mode and Mental Illness”

    1. I think the algorithm that Yoast uses seems to be looking at readability from a lowest common denominator perspective. Using specialized language and longer, more complex sentences may be audience-appropriate, but that’s not what the plugin is looking for.

      1. If Yoast is concerned with SEO, then they’re definitely looking for the least common denominator. I find your posts very readable and engaging. I’d probably be bored by a lot of posts that are getting more search engine attention.

  1. Your site doesn’t seem like it was created mindlessly. I think choosing to focus on mindless tasks is a form of mindfulness. I think it is a good form of meditation.

    1. The actual writing of posts I’m fully engaged with, but going back to fuss around with older stuff it feels like my brain is mostly turned off.

    2. Whatever you are doing is good A…you are healing! That’s one thing that’s happening thru you and for you….hugs πŸ™‚

  2. Like you I’ve been doing all the mindless tasks of going through old posts, removing tags and replacing and staring at Yoast readability’s red smile! I understand ‘icky’ feeling Ashley cos it’s why I am too, and it’s not a fun place to be.

    Hoping things get ‘better’ for you and I both — sometime soon would be good!

  3. I do that with photo editing, it consumes enormous amounts of time and then I often reject all the changes and edits and just dump the photo LOL But yes, it occupies my mind and I usually learn something and whoosh a couple of hours can fly by…I can’t seem to watch any kind of tv show for more than an hour – too passive.

  4. Your posts lack readability?! Good grief. Huh.

    I have mindless tasks available too–in my case, whenever I’m fatigued, for the most part. I love internet window shopping, and a lot of other mindless internet stuff. It’s perfect for when I’m conked out and have no energy for anything else at all.

    1. There are tasks that are so inherently uninteresting that if I didn’t perform them mindlessly, they would never get done at all.

  5. You’re posts are very readable to me and I’m not a native speaker. When my brain decides to take off, the longer posts or more political/sociological ones can be to difficult for me. But that’s because my emotions are all over the place and it has nothing to do with readability.
    That Yeast thing will never recognize a Nobel winning novel, mark my words!
    My favorite ‘waste’ of time when I’m really out of the zone is searching for nice pictures for my posts and pinning them on Pinterest, in their categories, so that everything falls into its place. Like I wish I could pin my thoughts in their category and that they would stay there ’till I come around to re-pin them.

    1. Yoast thinks that web pages should be at the reading level of approximately a 15-year-old. That’s not who I’m targeting.

      I also like picture-hunting, and that can easily consume a lot of time.

  6. I try to break up paragraphs and use shorter sentences in social media. It just seems the thing to do in this venue of communication when most are reading off phone screens. I don’t worry so much in my novel writing about that, except for huge blocks of narrative, which are generally frowned upon.

    I love your style of writing though and never thought your posts were hard to read!

    On the other topic, I too enjoy an active mindless task, like my silly coloring app or paper shredding at work.

    1. Ooh, paper shredding is great.

      I think audience matters a lot in terms of writing style. What works on social media, a blog, a website with a general audience, and a book can all be very different things.

  7. I often go through my posts before I publish them and try to cut sentences into two or three. I’m a rambler by nature. I also muddle tenses! Ah well.

    I really get you on the mindless tasks though. Something slightly active that involves a little participation but that isn’t going to use too much brain power. I hope your red sad face turns to orange neutral in reality too. πŸ˜˜πŸ’• x

  8. We try not to do mindlessness unless it is mindfully chosen. Try to decipher that, Yoast and 15 year olds!

    Spreadsheets used to be our version, when we were a worker. Making complex formulas that used algebra were very satisfying. Doesn’t sound mindless but it was very absorbing and forced us to not thinkβ€”about Trauma, the world of shit, pain, suffering, worry. Or we would analyze stocks for investing. Those pursuits can lead to very transactional thinking, which we have found can rob our relationships of their beauty.

    We almost never watch tv/netflix. When the show ends, we are so disorientedβ€”time, place, who we areβ€”that we get very scared

    Laundry is a useful one because it divides up big chunks of time. It keeps things moving. Unfortunately, dissociative delusion is our most unhelpful time suck. It is literally threatening our life. Mindfulness is the opposite: using senses in the present to observe without evaluating. Accepting can help

    Hi, Ashley! How is your day going? How are your babies? πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

    1. Yes, dissociative mindlessness sounds like a very scary thing indeed.

      Not much happening in my day. The babies are okay, but the boys will be more than okay when I finish my lunch and they get to come out to play. πŸ’•

  9. The world, independent of any doom and gloom voice, is a difficult place to inhabit. And, it’s the people that make it so. We’ve created the policies, procedures, and the like. And, to me, they benefit the wealthy, rather than the majority. Will it ever change? That is the question.

  10. Optimizing with Yoast makes up a large portion of my actual job, which may be why I put almost zero effort into optimizing my own posts, haha. It is satisfying to get that sad face to turn orange or green, though!

  11. “Plus there’s the β€œreward” of seeing Yoast’s red unhappy face change to an orange neutral face.”

    LOL. The small rewards πŸ˜….

    No way!!

    “From butt +β€Ž load. Butt in this context may be possibly one or both of:

    butt (β€œlarge wooden cask”) (Etymology 3)
    butt (β€œtwo-wheeled cart”) (Etymology 5)

    Alternatively, the term may either be a corruption of English boatload or have been influenced by that term (except for the specific, West Country dialect sense).”

    And I always thought it was a very slang American term about actual bums!

    Pfffffff, I feel like I should start calling it a bumload in protest and to retain the expected meaning! Lol.

        1. The Hubble Space Telescope had to be serviced by astronauts on a shuttle mission 3 years after launch, due to an aberration in its primary mirror.

          Following a detailed internal investigation, NASA engineers discovered that the cause of the problem lay in a manufacturing error which could be traced to an incorrect conversation between buttloads and bumloads πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ.

  12. I suspect the standard of language (written and otherwise) has fallen πŸ™
    I do like how you express yourself; but…

    I’m sorry you struggle Ashley, and I sincerely mean that. I know how it is to struggle with depression and anxiety. Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and panic how I will manage when the day comes I’ll have to get my own place again… my body is damaged and I worry about an income. John, most probably has *ADD which is making sense now, but that’s a struggle in itself, having to manage a relationship with a man-child when it’s no longer really a ‘romantic’ relationship, but we get on for the most part – and he’s the father of my dogs πŸ˜‰ *He told me his teacher thought he has it.

    I wanted to remark on earlier posts from the WP app but am unable to. There’s no ‘comment’ section (for me anyway). Because of the pain I like lying down to scroll through my favourite bloggers and comment.

    If you’re able to… I’d love to see some recent pics of your piggies πŸ™‚ xo

    ((( sincere hugs my friend ))) and thank you for the help you offer others despite not being well yourself. It’s good having a professional point of view. And one who is empathic.

    1. I’m not sure what’s up with the comment box on the app. If commenting on the post itself doesn’t work, you should bbe able to comment on the snippet that shows uo before you click through to the full post.

      I’ll post some pictures of the piggies tomorrow. Hugs right back at you. ❀️

  13. Your posts are definitely readable, i love reading your blogs!

    I actually hadn’t realised I did this or that it was even a thing until reading your post, my mindless tasks tend to differ depending on what it is I am feeling, if I am extremely anxious I obsessively clean but I have to do it in complete silence. when I’m feeling low or depressed i sometimes watch YouTube it’s probably really unhealthy but watching someone else live their life or complete their daily routine or activities helps me to escape for a moment either that or I sleep a lot lol

Leave a Reply