Feeling Stuck? 5 Ways to Clear Your Mind and Be Your Most Productive Self
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You can be in flow one day and out the next. While completing my doctorate, full-time work was required. I also managed a business and was involved in a dysfunctional relationship. I had made a commitment to complete the work I had set out to, without considering the impact of the pressures on me.
But one day I felt disinterested and unfocused in completing my work. I sat at my computer for a while, but no results came. I couldn’t produce. This sounds familiar? This is a mental Block ..
Spotting the signs
I was in the middle of my doctoral program with tons of papers to write, but I was stuck. It lasted for several days. It was not the first time I experienced a mental block.
I realized I was prone to mental blocks when I was engaging in long periods of mental stimulation, experiencing prolonged stress, and in a highly creative period. Here are some signs to watch out for in yourself:
- Feeling frustrated and overwhelmed
- Trying to push through to finish a task but feel stuck
- Difficulty completing any tasks that required me to think, strategize or create
- Trouble producing anything of high quality
- Finding it hard to describe how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing
One of the hardest things about experiencing a mental block is that it cannot be seen, which makes it hard to identify. A mental block can occur at any time, and it can be severe or temporary. They can be severe or acute.
Several factors can contribute to mental blocks. Some of them include:
- Mental exhaustion: As in my case, I was overworking my brain muscles all day and night by constantly engaging in creative activities. Mental fatigue was a result of excessive decision-making. My life was structured so that all decisions were made through me and could not be delegated. My brain was exhausted.
- Lack of sleep: With 24 hours in a day, eight were dedicated to my full-time job, six were going to my business, two were for traveling back and forth and three were used for cooking, bathing and spending time with my family and friends. On average, this schedule left me with five hours each day to sleep. Aim for six to eight hours sleep each night. My brain was not getting enough rest to function properly.
- Environmental disorganization: Your workspace should reflect the clarity you want when working. My environment can make it difficult for me to focus on a task when it is chaotic. My marriage was dysfunctional when I got my doctorate. My ex-husband was verbally abusive, and he also had a drug addiction. He would often throw fits and cause havoc in the apartment. Items would be scattered all over the place and everywhere I went when I returned home. To think clearly, I would have to leave the house. This was one reason I was so busy and out of my house as much as possible.
- Impostor syndrome: I doubted my experience and abilities at the highest level while earning my doctorate. I felt like I was somewhere in between. I had years of experience in my field, but I didn’t feel like an expert. I began to doubt my abilities and to hesitate before writing a paper. I was anxious about the quality of my submissions and feared being judged. Instead of creating, I would be stuck on validating my own work.
Overcoming a mental block
Once you can identify the root cause of your mental blocks, that is half the battle. The second half of the battle is to take steps to overcome your mental blocks so that you can achieve your goals. Here are a few things to try:
- Turn up your physical activity: This is my go-to anecdote. Mental blocks can be created when our energy is low. Engaging in regular physical activity helps prevent and remove blocks that occur. Exercise can improve our ability to think clearly and pump blood to the brain.
- Grab a coloring book and start coloring: Coloring is relaxing and allows you to get your creative juices flowing without using much brain power. Coloring can improve brain function by helping your brain and body relax. Colors activate different parts of the brain’s cerebral regions.
- Schedule your sleep: Putting your sleep on your schedule helps to regulate the amount you get. Your brain will relax if you get more sleep.
- Meditate daily: Meditation is a powerful tool that can help us remove distractions and negative thoughts. It allows us to connect with our subconscious mind and let go of the negative thoughts that are holding us back. It creates peace within us which allows us to gain clarity in all situations.
- Tap into music: Music can serve as a form of therapy to help us process emotions and act as a calming agent. Listening to music also has incredibly positive effects on our brains.
The most important thing to remember when feeling stuck is that stepping away from what you are working on is always an option. Relax and shift your focus. Keeping working will only frustrate and not be helpful. Instead, take some time to explore the suggestions.
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