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Home » Blog » 5 ways to overcome a mental block

At some point in time, all of us have experienced the inability to think clearly, never mind how hard we tried. If you are also facing the same problem, fear not! You are definitely not alone; others are also feeling equally foggy or stuck up. Don’t worry there is nothing wrong with you (or the others). What you are facing is called a ‘mental block’ and these blocks have a knack of cropping up at the *most* inconvenient times. They affect our performance in various sectors of life and hamper our personal as well as professional lives. In your personal life, a mental block can be an annoyance (like forgetting a movie’s name). But in the workplace, it can be a downright nightmare. When deadlines or deliverables loom on the horizon, the last thing you want is to freeze.

The good news is that researchers believe that creative thinking is a learned attribute. Thus, there are techniques available to help you push through your mental blockade.

But first,

What is a mental block?

Mental blocks are barriers that stand between you and your creativity, motivation, and productivity. In fact, the much-used term ‘writer’s block’ is basically a writer facing a mental block. People struggle to start projects, move sluggishly on already existing ones, have a tough time coming up with words, or are just unable to stay focused. Given the hectic time that we live in, mental blocks are only going to become more commonplace. So,

What causes mental blocks?

A lot of things, unfortunately.

Too many medications, the deficiency of vitamin B12, and the lack of sleep are just the tip of the iceberg. Other factors include-

  • Decision fatigue or mental exhaustion which happens due to us having to make too many decisions.
  • A chaotic environment boosts the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) which leads to greater anxiety, thus hampering creativity.
  • Procrastination, the bane of our times is simply putting off tasks for later. Mostly, it happens due to our fear of the various problems that might arise upon starting that task.
  • Then there is the dreaded imposter syndrome, which is our fear of people discovering that we are simply not good enough for the job. We become preoccupied with this often irrational fear and cannot focus on anything else.

Now that we know what it is and what causes it,

How do we overcome mental blocks?

Fear not, we have you covered. Here we offer you 5 ways to fight off those annoying mental blocks. (Scroll through to the end for a surprise tool!)

  1. Start with the small tasks: One of the easiest ways to work through a mental block is to keep taking a little off your plate, gradually. Getting tasks done and then crossing them off your list is a big morale booster and will create a positive headspace, thus helping with motivation and creativity.
  2. Take a break (and have a Kitkat, if it helps ): We have always been told to take a break and come back to a troubling problem later. There is a reason for that. When we try to work through a mental block unsuccessfully for an extended period of time, we tend to focus more on our mental block than the actual thing we’re trying to accomplish. Taking a quick break helps clear your head and can also give you the chance to approach your task with a new perspective. Grab a coffee, go for a walk, play a game, listen to some music- choose the poison of your choice to revitalize yourself and come back refreshed. Then attack the problem.
  3. Manage your time: Sometimes, all you need is a boost to get past the block and start working. Remember, action precedes motivation. You need to start working before you can feel motivated to keep going. A mental block makes time a scare resource and you have to end up fighting deadlines and creative blocks in the face of dwindling time. Use the Pomodoro technique Set a timer for 20 minutes and work only on the project you’re feeling blocked by. Close your inbox and shut off all notifications. At the end of the 20 minutes, take a 5-minute break. Repeat for a few more cycles.
  4. Don’t overextend your limits- Quit being stubborn in the face of adversity. It doesn’t always help. Don’t overcommit and bite off more than you can chew. Restructure your workload on a priority basis and lighten the load on your brain otherwise, you run the risk of burnout. It is necessary to cut down on tasks, especially during a mental block as it will not benefit either you or your team.
  5. Take care of yourself, hire a coach- Just like physical strength, your mental stamina needs time to rest and recover. If you push yourself too hard without any time for rest and relaxation, you’re going to experience mental blocks at some point. Seek professional help- Life coaches are of tremendous help in such matters. Not only will they help you get back to the basics, they will also use new innovational techniques like mind-mapping to help you fight these blocks.“My secret to getting past mental blocks are lots of therapy and professional coaching.” Helena Hambrecht, C-Founder of Haus

For our readers, we also present this amazing podcast with Ritu Mehrish. Ritu is a leadership executive coach and, in this podcast, she talks about a phenomenon called the Leader’s block (a leader’s mental block). When she explained the details to us fully, it was very reassuring for us to know that mental blocks spare nobody. We are sure that you will also experience the same relief upon listening to her.

Ritu comes with the experience of being a former business leader, who has managed a multi-million-dollar business vertical with 1000 people, across 8 countries and 5 continents and also understands the joys and challenges of leading diverse and global teams. So, when she spoke about Leader’s block, we made sure to listen. We suggest that you do too, and your problems of mental block may soon be a thing of the distant past.