Four Ways to Reboot Your Brain

Dawn L Baker MD, MS asks us if we've ever had a creative block or a case of the "blahs" & suggests 4 ideas to help reboot our brains.

Earlier this year, I kept writing and rewriting the same few sentences for an article I was working on.

It just happens now and then. You’re writing and the words don’t come. Your new ideas for your practice or business seem to run dry. You just feel kind of… blah.

This feeling was described perfectly by psychologist and author Adam Grant in his Ted talk about languishing. His “blahs” were of the COVID quarantine Groundhog Day type. And, ironically, is path out of languishing involved Mario Kart playoffs on Zoom with family members.

We’re always on a continuum between peak mental focus and burnout, as these things cycle in seasons. What can you do to move the needle in the right direction?


Cultivate Connection

When’s the last time you spent time outside? Fall and its accompanying beauty are here, so what better time than now? Could you take one day and go on a camping trip with family or friends? If camping feels daunting, what about a road trip to a new locale? Connecting with people, nature, or both can help you out of a slump.

I’m currently on an RV trip with my family in the desert of southern Utah. We wake up to the sunrise over Zion National Park in the middle of an expansive valley. We’re meeting other campers, participating in some homeschool group activities nearby in St. George, and planning to visit some other nearby natural wonders.

Oh, and we brought our bikes, which leads me to a second way you can try to escape the “blahs”…


Embrace Challenge

There is great power in doing hard things. Challenges boost confidence and give you a new perspective on your abilities and what’s possible. You can try something you know is hard for you, such as a workout challenge, or you can just try doing something new. Pay attention and celebrate ay improvements you can identify, even the micro improvements.

On this trip, I’m going to try biking again. I haven’t mountain biked since before I started residency 15 years ago! We used to go a few times a week, and it was challenging even then. Now, it’ll be like starting all over again!


There is great power in doing hard things. Challenges boost confidence and give you a new perspective on your abilities and what’s possible. Click To Tweet


Find Flow

This is where the Mario Kart comes in. Adam Grant found flow, and subsequently his way out of languishing, by playing Mario Kart with his family. The game not only involved flow, but it also brought him social connection and challenge.

Is there something you do where you know you can get into a state of flow? Common examples my coaching clients have listed include yoga practice, walking, hiking, or playing musical instruments. Even mundane things like cooking and cleaning can bring a state of flow. If you don’t know what I mean by flow, check out the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.


“If you don’t know what I mean by flow, check out the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.”


My go-to flow-inducing activities are writing, walking, and working out. Since writing is associated with my block, I’m turning toward the activities I’ve been ignoring lately. Despite my love of weight training, I’m going to put it on the back burner to focus on yoga. I just started an online yoga teacher training course, which will likely bring a needed shift in perspective. And walking is always a good thing; almost everyone can do it in some manner, and I challenge your to turn your walks (even walks around the hospital) into mindful journeys!


Adopt a Mindset of RESET

Lastly, in moving beyond my blahs, I’m cultivating the mindset of reset. When struggling on a technical problem with an electronic device to my wit’s end in the past, my husband has often said to me, “Don’t even bring your problem to me until you’ve turned it off and back on again.” I keep this in mind with all sorts of problems now.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”- Anne Lamott

What about you? How do you reboot your brain and move past a state of the blahs?


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