You KNOW what you planned to say.survive-mental-block
You KNOW that person’s name.
You KNOW you can write that article or business plan
So WHY are you stuck!

WHY is your brain letting you down?

And what can YOU DO to jump-start it again?

These mental block moments occur in even the youngest of adults and it’s scary.

What’s happening?

Your memory is an amazing set of reactions and processes that fire to help you recall information you need. It works best when you are operating in a relaxed and ‘normal’ mode. When you are in a happy, confident frame or mind and enjoying what you are doing.

This fast-paced world or ours, though, puts you and your memory under increasing and unrelenting pressure.

You may be tense, nervous, insecure or in a panic

You may have deadlines looming and be multi-tasking

You’ve been working on a project for hours and just can’t finish …

You may feel angry, emotionally charged or under threat

You may have suffered sleepless nights …..

Your body reacts to these pressures by sending more adrenalin into your system to help you cope.

But the bad news is:

The sustained release of adrenalin actually decreases your ability to think and remember well because adrenalin activates the ‘fight-flight-freeze’ responses of the amygdala.  This brain shortcut saves you from being run over by a bus but your logical, normal brain processing is on hold.

Result:  A mental block.

Mental blocks more than twice a week? Read this.

If mental blocks are happening to you more frequently than twice a week you need to check that nothing physical is causing the condition. If that checks out, honestly evaluate how you rate on a stress questionnaire. Stress, if sustained over a long period of time, can cause mental blocks. Rate your current stress using this link:

Mental Block Rescue Plan

Relax. The adrenalin needs time to return to normal levels to clear mental blocks, so take a few deep breaths and exhale slowly. Rotate your shoulders and loosely shake your arms and hands to relieve tension.

Change your environment. Go outside for a few moments and breathe deeply; move away from your desk and find a coffee, tea or snack; really study the details of a painting – any of these will help to disconnect you from where you had the mental block and will jump-start new brain connections.

Change HOW you are working. If you are at a computer, sketch out what you will do next on paper or a whiteboard. If you can, brainstorm with a colleague. The change of process helps you review what you were working on and relieves the stress the mental block is causing.

Give yourself 20 minutes. Set a timer and allow yourself ONLY 20 minutes to work. Then stop. Walk away and do something entirely different. Do some stretches. Just the jolt of having to leave what you are doing will often allow a solution or new idea to flow into your memory.

Thinking about the task you were undertaking from a different perspective will sometimes clear the mental block, also. How would your son or daughter view this task? What would your friend, golf coach, your dog(!) do in your situation? ….. you get the idea.

Use different words to describe the situation or problem causing the mental block can also give new ways for your brain connections to approach the task. (See an example of reframing below).

Skip the tricky bit. Leave a gap and move on as if it has been done. Or fill the gap with nonsense text and highlight it so you can find it later. Often just moving on will help your brain ‘fill in’ the gap much later in the project.

Don’t panic – if you are in a public situation, make a humorous comment and move on. Use one of the ways above to continue until your adrenalin returns to normal levels. Chances are, the thought, word or name you need will pop back into your mind seconds later.

Reframe your thinking – how?

Here’s a famous example:

Problem: The makers of hotel elevators received many complaints about the slowness of even their newest elevators.

After spending a lot of time analyzing the machinery and the physical impact on patrons of increased elevator speeds, some clever thinkers asked themselves questions and re-framed the problem.

Why did hotel guests complain?
Why did the lifts seems so slow?

Answer: Because they had nothing to do while they were waiting!

When visible screens indicated the progress of the elevator, and mirrors were installed inside and outside the elevators, the complaints ceased.

Want to know more about how to Re-Frame your Thinking? Read more

Trust your brain – given the right conditions, your brain will remember.

If you can control factors surrounding you at the time, mental blocks will be a thing of the past.

Or, if they occur, now you know what to do.

For more information, read