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5 Ways To Overcome A Mental Block At Work

10 min read
Last Updated on 29 November, 2023

How often have you felt you couldn't think clearly despite your best efforts? Ever found yourself zoning out during a meeting or important task at work? Not sure if you need some sleep or if you are burnt out?

There's nothing to worry about; you're just going through normal mental blocks, which can happen to anyone at any time.

Working in an environment full of workload pressure and stress is perfect for creating mental blocks. You can overanalyze or feel blocked in your head, adversely affecting your overall work performance and mental health.

This article will explore more about mental blocks and what they are. It'll help you better understand the signs of mental blocks and how to overcome them at work.

What Is A Mental Block?


A mental block is a feeling or thought that stops you from moving forward or getting things done. It often hinders your productivity and occurs, especially when you're anxious or feeling overwhelmed. It is the inability to recall or remember information or think of something ordinary. It is generally the by-product of long-term stress.

However, it is not the same as mental fatigue or mental exhaustion. It can be one of the factors but not entirely the main reason behind it. It usually prevents you from accessing your natural creative skills and ability to perform tasks. It can happen to anyone and at any time. When you're experiencing a mental block, you'll feel the tasks ahead of you are impossible or challenging to complete, even though they might be simple.

Even though mental block is often called by different terms like writer's block, brain fog, or even mental fatigue, all mental blocks feature the same conundrum. It is the inability to concentrate, think, or reason clearly, resulting in a lack of drive.

Forbes reports that unchecked mental fatigue can even impact your physical health. If you don't learn how to overcome a mental block, it can derail your productivity and sense of contentment with life.

Identifying Mental Blocks At Work


According to the CDC, one in three Americans does not get enough sleep, and almost 83% suffer from workplace stress. This leads to mental exhaustion and burnout among employees; from making decisions to responding to mail and meeting deadlines, you're one step away from experiencing mental blocks at work.

When identifying mental blocks at work, you first need to pay close attention to any recurring thoughts you may be having and unusual behavior patterns. Ask yourself if these thoughts or behaviors hinder your confidence or ability to complete a task. If yes, then you might be having mental blocks.

Also, if you are extremely worried or stressed about a particular assignment, uncertain about the next steps in your career, or unconfident about your team's capabilities, in that case, you may be facing a mental block. These blocks can also occur if you're confronted with a new problem you've never had to deal with before.

Suggested Read : 7 Ways You Can Help Employees Dealing With Work Anxiety

What Causes Mental Blocks At Work?

Mental block or writer's block, although different people use different terms for the same thing, it still shares the common symptoms, and the causes behind it are the same too. When you are unable to focus or get your mind to do even the most essential thing, you might be experiencing a mental block (often misunderstood as brain fog among employees).

No matter what you call them, all mental blocks are caused by the same factors. Some are more common than others but are believed to be the reasons behind limiting your ability to perform or focus.

Again, according to Harvard Health Letter, the causes of mental blocks or the inability to think clearly are -

  • Lack of sleep

  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medication

Suggested Read : How Sleep Deprivation Affects Work Performance

Again there are more causes or factors leading to mental blocks than those listed above -

1. Mental Exhaustion


Being overwhelmed with thoughts or too many tasks can cause mental exhaustion, eventually resulting in mental blocks. And when you're mentally exhausted, your brain is overstimulated, which can further impair your cognitive abilities like thought process, decision-making skills, creativity, and many more.

2. Procrastination

Procrastination is when you know what to do, yet you put it off to do it later. It is a state of mind when you leave important tasks or decisions until the very last minute. It further leads to feelings of anxiety, stress, guilt, and affects your ability to be productive.

3. Burnout


Work fatigue or stress are the leading causes of burnout which can be of any form, physical, mental or emotional exhaustion. It can also cause decision fatigue when you have too many decisions or problem-solving to do. An unhealthy work-life balance can be one of the main reasons you don't feel motivated enough to focus on your work or experience mental block due to workload pressure and stress.

4. Cluttered Workspace

Your workspace can be a key factor behind your inability to perform or focus on work. A cluttered workspace can cause a rise in your cortisol levels, i.e., increase your stress hormone. Desk clutter can even cause anxiety and affect your productivity at work. It can make it difficult for you to focus on a particular task as your visual cortex is overwhelmed by things unrelated to the task.

Likewise, clutter contributes to negative emotions such as tension, confusion, irritability, and anxiety since it prevents you from completing your work. It is important to keep a clean desk or workspace to prevent distractions. A clean workspace helps your mind to see things more clearly when your desk is organized.

Suggested Read : Workplace Ergonomics: Benefits And Ways To Improve It

5. Self-doubt


Suffering from self-doubt or imposter syndrome can be the most dreaded reason behind a mental block. It is the fear of people discovering that you're not the best person for the job.

Thus, when you're constantly judging yourself or preoccupied with the thoughts or fear of being exposed as the imposter, you cannot focus on anything else. When you suffocate yourself with negative thoughts or disbeliefs, it becomes your reality and prevents you from doing anything productive.

How To Overcome A Mental Block?


Mental blocks can affect both your mental and physical health. Especially when you're at work, zoning out, or delaying tasks is neither professional nor can you afford it.

Again since workplace stress is one of the most contributing factors behind mental blocks, if you feel like your mental health or clarity has been declining over the years, then it might be the right time to keep track of the reasons behind it. One of the best ways to overcome a mental or writer's block is to identify the root of it.

There's no one-size-fits-all solution to mental health since everyone has different issues, and a generalized strategy might not work for everyone. But if you feel like you're experiencing the above causes, then you can try these tips to prevent or overcome mental blocks at work -

1. Identify your mental block and reevaluate your priorities.

The first step in overcoming your mental block is to identify what it is and what is causing it. Mental blocks can often disguise as something they are not, like writer's block, lack of inspiration to work, or inability to be creative.

So, to overcome it, you must find what it is, whether it is a mental block or something else; only then can you apply the right strategy to put things in order. Identifying the root cause and rebuilding your confidence is the first step to being more productive at work.

Next, reevaluate your priorities so that you don't exhaust yourself with workloads more than you can handle. Organize your to-do list for the day from most important to least important. A clear understanding of what is more important helps you declutter your min. Again, you know what to do when you're less likely to be stressed out.

When you complete or accomplish goals, your brain releases dopamine which further helps to improve your menatl health and mood. Starting small and accomplishing small task can affect your overall mental health in a good way.

2. Do not overextend yourself, and start small.


Mental blocks usually occur when you exhaust yourself or are overwhelmed with a workload that you don't even know where to start. It can make you feel anxious and stressed about work, causing you to procrastinate.

So, another way to overcome your mental block is to break down your tasks and start with something small. When you already have your plate full, it is always wise to break down the large projects into smaller activities so that it is less overwhelming and prevent you from freezing your brain.

Stick to a simple strategy, write down your tasks from easy to intermediate to hard levels and then start with the easiest ones. Although it might seem like a looming task, your progress can help you feel productive without hindering your efficiency.

Suggested Read : 5 Corporate Wellness Strategies You Can’t Ignore

3. Declutter your workspace.

When your work environment is cluttered, or uninspiring, overcoming mental blocks becomes challenging. If you're easily distracted by things or get overwhelmed by working in a busy workspace, clutter can be one of the main causes of your mental blockage. As mentioned above, clutter can trigger negative emotions in your brain. It is often linked with stress, anxiety, irritability, and confusion.

"A cluttered physical space can lead to a cluttered mental space.- unknown "

A cluttered desk or office can trigger your cortisol levels and prevent you from being productive at work. And since your work environment is more than your mere physical surroundings so, taking some time to tidy up your workspace can be a good start.

You'll feel more energized when your workspace is organized and clean. It won't feel claustrophobic or distracting, and you can put more mental energy into your work. Remember, a clean and healthy work environment affects your productivity and mood for the entire day.

Suggested Read : Mood Meters : A New Corporate Health And Wellness Initiative

4. Maintain a healthy self-care routine.


It is important to remember that your mental health is as important as your physical health. If you put your mental health in the back seat, then it'll affect your overall wellness too. Just like your physical health, even your mental health needs strength to rest and revitalize.

It needs time to rest and recover to help you get more clarity and think more efficiently. When you push yourself too hard, without any breaks or rest, you'll end up with either exhaustion or burnout.

Thus, taking time to relax and rest for better self-care, from eating healthy to exercising, is essential. Self-care is one of the best tools to increase the production of happy hormones and lead healthier lives. When you're happy and healthy, you're more productive, and your creative process improves.

Here are some ways you can overcome your mental blocks through self-care

  • Get enough sleep. ( 7-9 hours)

  • Practice meditation or mindfulness at work.

  • Set healthy boundaries at work.

  • Do not take extra work back home. Maintain a healthy work-life balance.

  • Set aside time to do activities that'll help you calm your mind.

  • Indulge yourself in something that makes you feel happy.

Suggested Read : 4 Self Care Programs To Foster Health At Workplace

5. Don't forget to take breaks.

A sedentary lifestyle can be quite harmful to both your mental and physical health. Sitting for long hours at your desks or in front of screens trying to work with a mental blockage can push you to the verge of a breakdown. Without good mental clarity on what you're working on for a long period of time, you may fail to accomplish your tasks and focus more on your mental block.

This way you make more mistakes because you're more distracted and easily frustrated by minor inconveniences.

"I like to get up and take a walk when dealing with a mental block. A change of environment can help shake it lose most times." -David Hoos, Director of Marketing at the Good

Thus, taking small breaks between work to rest and help clear your mind is important. Taking quick breaks will also give you a chance to approach your work or problem with a new perspective. So, when you feel like your mental blocks are too hard to overcome, you just need to take a break or some time off from work to rejuvenate.

These breaks can be small or extended like taking comp offs or even paid leaves.It can be a small half-hour break, taking a walk, engaging in a conversation with your coworkers, or watching a funny video. You can also take some time off and plan to take some free days away from the office.

Breaks, big and small, can help reset your mind, rejuvenate your body, and help you to get back on track as you work through a mental block. A small break or change in your work lifestyle is enough to revitalize your mind.

Suggested Read : Positive Distractions At Work: 4 Ways To Boost Productivity

Summing It Up

Thus, when you're in to understand the signs of a mental block and how to overcome them, you're set up for success.

No matter what this success looks like, it's essential to keep your mental health in mind while not overcommitting to too much work and taking breaks when needed.

Taking this approach will allow you to kick mental blocks to the curb. I hope this article helped you understand mental blocks and how to overcome them. However, if none of the above work, it is always better to consult a professional.

This article is written by Neha Yasmin who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. A selenophile with a penchant for discovering great meals and drinks. Is a self-proclaimed binge racer with a knack for cooking in her spare time. For queries, reach out to

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