You have heard of this story before. In fact, maybe you yourself starred in your own version. It is the day of the BIG test. You drowned yourself in books and notes for the past two weeks just to prepare for this day of days. No more parties, movies or even sleep. You have sacrificed so much to prepare for this test. You sit at your desk with your writing tools in hand and teacher is about to pass the exam papers. When you finally get yours and silence envelopes the room, your eyes dart to the first question. And then your mind goes blank. You have just totally and utterly forgotten everything you studied and are completely in the dark. Bummer.
Brain block or mental block can happen to the best of them. The weight and fear of your oncoming challenge just gets to you, that’s all. Stress can really do a number on you mental and psychologically if not physically. If you get hit with brain block, you are going to have a tough time trying to break out of it. So how to get rid of brain block? Here is how:
Breathe in, breathe out. If you get brain blocked during a big exam or presentation, you will most assuredly panic. Do not forge to breathe lest something more terrible happens and you actually need medical assistance. Breathe. And then breathe slower. And slower, and slower until you are breathing normally and are somewhat relaxed. The information you need will come to you more easily if you are calm.
Use your imagination. Would you be less afraid if you were taking the test in your bedroom in your pajamas? Of course you would! Imagine yourself in familiar and safe surroundings. Since you are letting negative thoughts and emotions knock you off your game why not let positive ones bring you back? Imagine yourself surrounded by things you like and in a place less scary than a grand lecture hall. Change your perception of what is around you and you can beat brain block.
Get distracted from your distractions. A good distraction to battle the bad distraction? Sounds weird but it may just save your life. Find some cue to snap yourself out of your paranoia and demolish that accursed brain block. May it be a song, your watch, your shoes, anything that will allow you to access happy thoughts and distract you from your fear. Give yourself a fighting chance by setting up mental cues to get your head back on straight.
Run through. Stage productions have dress rehearsals and basketball teams have shoot-arounds. Go through the motions of taking your test before the actual exam to help you settle down when taking the real thing. Simulate exam conditions, rules and surroundings so that when the time comes, it will feel as if you have done this before.
Recover. If brain block happens and you could not make it through, accept defeat and learn from your experience. The worst thing that could happen is that it happens to you again. Did you prepare too little? Maybe you went a little overboard with your preparations? Analyze what happened and see what you could have done differently to avoid another mishap.
Never take things too seriously. If you allow yourself to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, you will buckle. Relax and be confident in your skills and abilities. Brain block is an expression of self-doubt. Do not fear, you can do this!