After a hard workout, our bodies understandably need rest and recovery. The same goes for our mental “muscles.” Maintaining productivity when your mind can’t maintain focus just requires a little creativity. As with the 50-minute-on, 10-minute-off recommendation from last week, you might find it easier to push through the wall if you try some of these tips to improve concentration.

  • Get outside. Even a brief walk outside has been shown to have multiple health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels from stress. The fresh air also gives your brain a boost, allowing you to clear your mind and re-focus your thoughts.
  • Relax. Take 5 or 10 minutes to close your eyes, be still and just focus on your breathing. According to psychologist and wellness coach Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, “research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress.”
  • Train your brain. Switching to a mental exercise for a few minutes can help use more and different parts of your brain, in turn, strengthening your entire brain. In this Mensa Research Journal article, researchers conclude that human cognition is not fixed beyond a certain age, but rather, the adult brain is an “adaptable, plastic organ capable of continual improvement in efficiency and effectiveness when exposed to the proper experiences.” If you’re looking for fun ways to stretch and train your brain, you should check out Lumosity.
  • Unleash. Sometimes, you get stuck because you’re trying to edit as you brainstorm. Just get all of your thoughts out, as they come to you. Then, revisit to refine. My office mates joke that I go all “Beautiful Mind” when I brainstorm. I admit…it’s kind of true.

Whether you find yourself stuck because you’re overwhelmed or out of inspiration, listen to your body and your brain. Hitting the wall could be your brain’s signal to change course for a few minutes and could be the catalyst to the big idea you’ve been seeking.

If you have any suggestions to add to this list, let us know. Being in an industry where an eternal flow of ideas is expected, we’re always up for trying new approaches to break the mental block.