5 tips to overcome a mental block
“I don’t know what to write!” – Inika about this blog, December 2020.
I’ve had a busy semester, and it’s been a bit tricky to find creative inspiration this last month. Cue the writer’s block that drove me to write this post. Writing and editing this has actually helped my creative process, so I’m happy to announce that my strategies work! (At least a little bit).
In essence: here are my top 5 tips to overcome a mental block <3
1. Talk it out
It helps enormously to talk to someone about what you’re having trouble with. You can rant about your problems, use them as a sounding board, and they can even offer suggestions. If you don’t have a person at hand, try buying a duck.
No, seriously. Talk to a rubber duck or a soft toy (this a life-hack presented by my friend who is in a reportedly fun– but intense–computer science programme). You can even talk to your pet!
2. Try a different format
It’s quite common to get tired of what you’re working on. The word document starts to look blurry, nothing works, and you feel like your course material would be more useful if it ablaze and trying to warm your cold, dead, heart.
So my advice to you is: switch it up. You can try changing the medium you’re working on. Try switching between your laptop, notebook, and a whiteboard. You can even use paper napkins!
You can also try changing the format. If you’re writing paragraphs after paragraphs or taking bullet points, you can attempt a mindmap or vice versa. Another option is making a voice recording explaining what you want to do. The possibilities are endless.
3. Take a break
If you’ve been looking at one thing for long enough and banging your head against a wall, it’s fairly unlikely that looking at it any longer will give you a stroke of genius.
Honestly, take a break. Do something else. My go-to strategies are to…
- go on a walk
- do some stretching
- water my plants
- listen to music in a place that is far, far away from my desk.
Point is, give your mind rest! It’s important to check in with yourself and take it easy when you need to.
4. Think about this controversial statement
It’s worth doing poorly if it’s worth doing at all
(This isn’t a direct quote, but the general gist is attributed to the English writer G.K. Chesterton)
In essence, I find that a lot of my personal struggles come from being demotivated to embark on something because it may not turn out as great as I want. My perfectionist streak (whilst often useful) is responsible for this issue, so it helps to talk it down a little.
- You don’t have to take beautiful notes that will be a pleasure to study from later. Bad notes are better than no notes.
- It’s better to turn in this assignment on time than to turn it in late, no matter how mediocre the figures are.
- Very few people will care if your last paragraph fits perfectly on this page.
- Your blogs don’t need to be complicated and deep to be good.
- and so on
I find that somewhere along the way, sometimes things do work out the way I want. Not having my mind clouded by stress or the pressure for perfection eases my workflow.
5. Just… do it
Counterintuitive? Perhaps. Trust me though: set a 25-minute timer, sit down, and just create what you can. It does not have to be perfect. You are not allowed to edit or reconsider, or think about your progress or ANYTHING in those 25 minutes. Just do it.
This is called the pomodoro technique, and helps you create focus and actually get started. Those two things alone can go a long way. Plus, you’ll likely have at least a little bit done by the end of it.
Before you guys head off to try these different strategies, I want you to remember a few things.
- Your productivity doesn’t define your worth or goodness as a person, nor does it define your skill or knowledge. Source: me
- It’s been a rough time for many of us. Be kind to yourself.
- Sometimes mental blocks last a long time, and other times they come and go like the breeze.
- Do what you can, but if your mental block is causing you stress or anxiety then try reaching out for some help 🙂
I hope reading this blog helped you as much as writing it helped me! As always, you can find me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Inika Prasad — Biomedicine BSc
Hello, Inika here. I’m a third-year Biomedicine bachelor’s student at KI. I'm from India and a little bit from Sweden. As a Digital Ambassador Blogger, I'll be writing about my programme, things happening in and around KI, and giving insights into university life.