9 Detours Around Your Mental Roadblocks
We’ve all been there. You’re rocking and rolling, feeling great about the amount of work you’ve accomplished. Then you realize some project needs to be done ASAP and you’ve completely forgotten about it until now. You have to push through but your mental energy is too spent to do anything else at this moment. What do you do?
First things first, you have to realize that this is a mental roadblock. It’s brought on by your brain taking on entirely too much, and like any roadblock, you won’t get through it unless you first regroup and think of a better way. That’s why we’ve put together a list of actions you can take whenever you feel yourself start to slip. Here’s what we recommend.
1. Go For A Walk.
Going for a walk can do a couple of things to restore your sanity whenever your workload has pushed you too far. First off, it gives you a change of scenery where you have more to look at and think about than text on a page or practice problems in a study guide. Sometimes you can get so focused on the problems you’re dealing with that your brain stops noticing obvious solutions. A good walk will get your blood pumping again and ease situational stress on your brain.
Thirty minutes of intense physical exercise can give you an added shot of energy, and that’s probably the one thing you’re lacking if you feel the mental roadblocks start to come up. Whether you choose to do heavy cardio or weight training is immaterial. The objective is to get your body active, and your mind will soon follow.
3. Reward Yourself For What You’ve Accomplished.
Rewards can take on several different forms and vary depending on what your interests and hobbies are. If you’ve been wanting to see what happens on the next episode of Orange Is The New Black, or you’re in the middle of catching up on your Breaking Bad-a-thon, it certainly won’t hurt stepping away from your work for a bit so you can get sucked in to a good story. Maybe your idea of a reward involves shopping. If so, you might want to, within reason, take a break and go for a drive down to your favorite store to buy yourself a present for the work that you HAVE accomplished.
4. Connect With Someone You Love.
Need to step away from the apartment, house, or dorm room, but craving human interaction? Make some time for someone you love — a spouse, significant other, family member, or best friend — and go do something that won’t be too invasive on the rest of the time that you have left. (This probably rules out a night of drinks and dancing, but there’s no reason why the two of you can’t go out and enjoy a quick meal and some conversation.)
5. Power Nap.
I am a big fan of the power nap, though I’ll admit it’s a tricky one if there is a bed involved. Something about getting those covers over me makes it too tempting to just call it a night. That’s why if I’m shooting for a true power nap — 30 minutes, no longer — I’ll always set my timer and take a seat in my favorite chair. The act of sleeping upright is restful, but it’s not something I can comfortably do for very long.
6. Grab A Snack.
A nice snack can clear your mind of cobwebs, provided you’re eating the right kind of snack. If you want to maintain your focus and productivity, don’t eat things that are heavy on carbs. Think leafy greens, whole grain, coffee, etc. We wouldn’t recommend a giant plate of pasta smothered in red sauce.
7. Work On A Pet Project.
Got a short story or novel that you’re working on? Why not break it out whenever your academic self is starting to slip? This keeps your mind active, but gives it something to do that doesn’t feel like work. Time yourself 30 to 60 minutes, then when you’re done, go back to the essential task.
8. Video Games.
You would be surprised at how helpful video games can be to your productivity and switch-tasking abilities. Most games — think PS4, Xbox One, mobile apps — require quick response and stellar hand-eye coordination. Some even require you to make snap decisions in a highly responsive world where one wrong move could be your last. Yes, video games are fun, but they’re also great for improving the relationship between mind and body. So if you feel you’re at the end of your rope, play through the next chapter of Assassin’s Creed II or beat the next team on your Madden schedule. Provided you can set the controller down when you’re through and not play “just one more level,” you may actually find this beneficial.
9. Get Organized.
Feel like your study location is getting too cluttered? Maybe the task you’re about to tackle is too challenging without a game plan in place? Getting organized — both physically and mentally — can help you recharge your mental energy and feel more equipped for whatever it is you need to do. So clean up your workspace and give it the facelift it’s been needing, or develop an outline for how you’re going to tackle the task that has caused your mental roadblocks to form. After all, planning is a very short distance from action.
You may not be able to see mental roadblocks, but they’re just as real as what you’ll find in the “real world.” Luckily, as most roadblocks come with marked detours, you can form the detours that help you around those you encounter. We’ve suggested some techniques that work for us above, but what about you? What helps you “get over the hump” and on to the task at hand? Share your thoughts in our comments section, and good luck avoiding distractions!