We’ve all heard of writer’s block, but feeling stuck at work isn’t exclusive to writers. Most of us have struggled with mental blocks, whether they happen while we’re working from home or in the office. Often this mental block can lead to mental exhaustion, because we feel overwhelmed when our creativity and productivity reach a dead end. 

If you’re wondering how to overcome mental blocks, luckily, there are many ways you can better address your tasks at hand, all while prioritizing your mental health. Reduce stress and decision fatigue and start working more productively with this comprehensive guide, which will highlight how to overcome mental blocks and how to stop them from happening in the first place. 

What are mental blocks and why do they happen? 

A mental block is essentially a barrier in cognition that stops us from being productive, feeling motivated, being creative, and being effective at work. Here are some instances that may block you from getting your work done: 

  • Being in a poor working environment: If you don’t feel comfortable at work and the corporate environment doesn’t feel safe, it’s going to be very difficult for you to find the motivation to get things done. 
  • Having a lack of information: When you don’t have enough information to complete a task, it’s going to delay you and render you less efficient.
  • Multitasking: Multitasking is okay when you only have a few items on the go, but when you simply have too much on your plate, it becomes unproductive and acts as a barrier. 
  • Falling behind on your workload: This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious, which can make it hard for you to reach your optimal performance. 

Organize your thoughts

Reduce the risk of feeling overwhelmed by organizing your meeting notes and action items in one place. Try using a tool like Fellow!

8 tips to overcome mental blocks 

1 Listen to music

Listening to music can help calm your nerves and realign you on your goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to listen to your favorite sing-along; instead, try listening to lo-fi beats, some classical music, or another kind of music that will feel soothing to you. Often, music can make our less enjoyable tasks a little bit more tolerable and can make the time pass more quickly. 

2 Take a breather

If you’re feeling stuck and beginning to feel increasingly overwhelmed, it’s probably a good time to take a breather. Getting out into the fresh air and into nature often gives us the time we need to decompress and engage in some self-reflection. Being in nature tends to increase positive emotions and decrease negative ones, which supports our psychological wellbeing. Staring at your screen for hours is ineffective and stumps motivation. Go for a walk so you can come back to your to-do list feeling fresh minded. 

3 Use a different method

Sometimes the solution to a mental block is simply approaching the task at hand from a different angle. The next time you find yourself stuck, think about whether there may be a different method you can use to complete what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re not sure, this is a great opportunity for collaboration and to learn from your teammates. It’s a much more effective use of time to reach out to your colleagues for support, than to sit at your computer feeling stuck. 

4 Open up to someone you trust 

There’s no shame in feeling stuck at work. Chances are, every single one of your colleagues, including the leadership team, have felt stuck before. Don’t be afraid to speak up and don’t hesitate to book a one-on-one meeting with your boss to communicate how your mental block may be affecting your performance. With Fellow, you can book one-on-one meetings with your manager to collaborate on talking points, exchange feedback, and have engaging conversations. Booking these meetings is going to provide you with a dedicated space to discuss priorities and remove roadblocks, all while building more trust and a stronger overall relationship. 

5 Engage in self-care 

Creativity and productivity need to be nurtured. For this reason, make sure you’re spending time doing things that make you feel good and help support your mental health. Whether these activities include working out, reading a book, socializing with friends, or doing a face mask, find what makes you feel good and make it a priority. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so it’s important that you nurture your own wellbeing to reduce stress and to be more productive at work. Self-care can also look like taking a small break away from your computer for some quiet time to meditate, listen to a podcast, or simply chill out for a few minutes. 

6 Do some physical activity

Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins and leaves us feeling less worked up and more prepared to take on the weight of daily stresses. If you’re feeling stuck, you’re likely not being very productive and are better off using your time to exercise and do something positive for yourself so you can get back on track. Better yet, see if a colleague wants to join you so you can destress from your corporate responsibilities together. 

7 Refuel your body 

This is a simple, yet important tip: drink lots of water, get an adequate amount of sleep, and eat foods that nourish your body and energize you for the day. Fueling your body is foundational to being creative and productive at work. If you realize you haven’t been eating or drinking enough water while at work, take some time away from your computer to escape your mental block and feed your body. If you realize you’re not sleeping enough, make it your top priority to go to bed earlier and to improve your nighttime routine. 

8 Break down the project

Another way to help move around your mental block is to break down your project or task into smaller milestones so it’s less challenging to reach the overarching goal. Breaking down your project will make the task less intimidating and easier to tackle. Usually, when we think about starting a large assignment, it can feel daunting; by breaking it down, you’re able to think about what may be realistic to achieve one day at a time. 

How to stop mental blocks from happening 

1 Keep an organized workspace 

If your workspace is messy, it’s not going to help your mental block, because it’s going to make your mind feel disorganized as well. Keep an organized desk and make the effort to make your workspace an enjoyable place to be. Whether it’s putting up some photos or tending to a plant or two, the little things may help motivate you, especially when you’re feeling stuck. When you’re experiencing a mental block, take a second to clean up the space around you, then resettle into your work. 

2 Start small to manage overwhelming feelings

Recognize and address when you’re feeling overwhelmed as soon as these feelings begin. It’s much more manageable to handle stress before it grows into something bigger and more difficult to soothe. When you do recognize these feelings, think about small things that tend to make you feel better, and take the time to engage with those things. It’s also important to talk about these feelings before they start affecting you more deeply and take a toll on your mental health. 

3 Give yourself breaks

There’s nothing productive about sitting at your desk for the entire day sans break. We need breaks away from our computer to avoid decision fatigue and mental exhaustion. Try to be intentional with your breaks and choose to make healthy decisions for yourself. This means that maybe instead of scrolling social media for twenty minutes, you go for a walk, grab a coffee with a colleague, or call your grandma. Schedule your breaks in your calendar to be more productive and recognise when you’ve hit a wall and are ready to take a moment away from your computer. 

4 Know your limits

Knowing your limits shows that you have respect for yourself and that you care about the quality of your work. Having too much on your plate is a recipe for a mental block. What’s more is that our work may not be to our usual standard. Try to notice if your mental block is the result of an unrealistic workload, and if that’s the case, speak with your manager immediately. Having too much work is going to negatively affect you, your productivity, and your efficiency, and this unrealistic workload and its consequences won’t be beneficial to the team. Recognize your limits, set clear boundaries, and identify your comfort zone in terms of workload to avoid mental blocks. 

Parting advice

Overcoming mental blocks is not always easy and can often feel overwhelming. This can be especially true while working from home, because the line between our professional and personal lives often becomes blurred. That said, there are many ways you can reduce stress, get back to your creative process, and find ways to tackle the tasks at hand. Start by identifying what’s causing your mental block, then try some of the tips we’ve listed to see what’s the most effective for you. Most importantly, tend to yourself and your mental health and make time to do things that make you feel good and that lift your spirits. Doing so will help you address mental blocks more effectively and avoid burning out. 

If you found this article to be helpful, be sure to share it with a friend or a colleague. It’s always a pleasure seeing you on the Fellow blog. Until next time!