It happens. When I’m in the middle of writing something, I sometimes block out. I start to type it up but the idea is gone. Hello, marvelous idea, where did you go? Mental block!
Yes, we all experience a mental block once in awhile, especially when we’re under some type of pressure. That’s one of the problems usually brought up by our students at Ahead Tutorial and Review Center.
And guess what? Even the best students can suffer from mental blocks. The question seems simple enough but for one reason or another, your brain just cannot come up with the answer. Though it’s a frustrating situation, it is actually quite common. And there are a number of tricks to overcome this perplexing state.
- Step away from the question. If the answer eludes you, move on to the next question. Trying to recall the solution might take a while because you are working against a combination of frustration and anxiety under time pressure. You can either skip the question or distract your mind by looking around the room for a minute or two. When you come back, the mental block could be gone.
- Review your work. Sometimes, you might be able to remember the answer by going back to previous questions. Use the items you were able to answer to jog your memory about what’s missing. The answer might be part of a list and some of the items on that list may be found in previous questions.
- Prevention. The best way to overcome mental blocks is to prevent them from happening. Studying your lessons every day, instead of cramming the night before, is a good way to ensure that you don’t black out during exams. It also gives your confidence a boost because you know the lesson by heart.
- Do not let it happen again. If you experience another blackout, then learn from it. Remember the fear, anxiety, and helplessness of not being able to overcome the mental block. Let it serve as a reminder that you could have studied more. Every time you find yourself about to procrastinate, remember what it felt like not to know such a simple answer.
- Conquering fear. Overcoming a mental block is really about conquering fear. Fear is what causes this baffling state in the first place—fear of failure, fear of disappointing your elders. Fear and anxiety may cause you to doubt yourself. The mental block is the manifestation of the notion that you do not know the answers and will fail. However, if you have enough confidence in yourself, those fears will not confound you.