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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

How to unblock a mental block

Finding inspiration can be an arduous task

You will find advice in blogs, articles, and books on how to overcome your obstacle/s and avoid them in the future. Getty
You will find advice in blogs, articles, and books on how to overcome your obstacle/s and avoid them in the future. Getty

A kid asked me once: “Can you ever run out of creativity?” When you work in the creative field, this is something that many people ask. They would ask me questions such as: “How do you know what to write about every week?” or “Do you ever run out of ideas?” and the best question is “How do you seek inspiration?” These are all pertinent questions that I have wondered about before I joined the creative field.

While I do not believe that a person can ever run out of creative ideas, I do strongly believe in mental blocks, or “writers’ block” as some refer to it.

The period can last from a day to several months which can be a huge problem if you are running a creative business. One of my team members is currently going through one of these phases, a situation that is giving her a panic attack because she thinks she may never be as creative as she once was.

If you find yourself in a mental block, or prone to falling into one, then rest assured that there are ways that can help you get out of it. I know, I have tried.

So what can be done if you do find yourself in this uncomfortable situation?

Admit that it is there

A mental block is a problem, and if you are prone to facing it, then it is best to acknowledge it, so that when you do face one, you will not stress about it. And so the next step is important, which is to remain calm and realise that it is a temporary phase that will pass.

Spice up your schedule

With mental blocks, what you need to do is to break your cycle. Routine is good sometimes, but it does not help much with mental blocks. When I am facing a mental block, I go out and do something that I would not usually be doing. For instance, I will take up a new sport, or activity, or drive up to an area I have not explored, and would walk around. I would also read about subjects outside my field. Lately, I have been reading a lot about astronomy, Mars in particular, as well as national parks in the US. These topics are not related to my field, but I find that by doing that, I trigger my creativity. I am also inspired most when I completely switch off from my routine and engage in something unrelated to my field.

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Draw it or write it

When she’s faced with a mental block, my friend goes to her whiteboard and draws her obstacle. She says that she always finds the solution once she sees her problem is in front of her. Another great way to get over a problem is to write it down. Jot down what is bothering you, and then perhaps you will see that it is not a big deal, or you will notice a pattern of some sort, or be inspired to find a solution. Writing personally works best for me. It almost always helps solve my problem, and allows me to realise that it is not that big of a deal as I had imagined it to be.

Seek advice

Do not suffer in silence. Often in business, time is money, and you cannot just sit there waiting for inspiration to kick in. If you have a mentor then call them up and talk about it. If you don’t have one but have fellow entrepreneurs then seek their advice. Even if you do not have any entrepreneur friends then that should not stop you. Many of the problems we face are universal, and a quick search on Google will show you that you are not the only one facing that situation, and many have gone through the same or quite similar scenarios. Also, you will find advice in blogs, articles, and books on how to overcome your obstacle/s and avoid them in the future.

Give it a bit of time before taking action

Finally, as precious as time is, especially in business, do not rush into anything or take any drastic decision before you have given it some time to sink in. A friend of mine advices me to sleep on a matter before taking a huge decision. Most of the time I wake up feeling much better and know what to do. Sometimes also, a few hours do the trick. During this time, go for a walk, take some deep breath, and then you will know exactly what to do.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi