How to overcome mental roadblocks
Have you ever started a workout and then nearly talked yourself out of it a few minutes later? You start working out, but after a few minutes of heavy breathing your mind decides it would rather just stop and go home...we've all been there, right? IT'S THE WORST!
Unfortunately, this has happened to me way too often and it is one of the most frustrating things ever. In fact, it just happened last week when I was hiking up Grays Peak.
I was excited to hike my second 14er (fourteen-thousand-foot mountain), but a little after hitting the trail, my breathing started getting heavy and I was feeling a bit sluggish. My motivation quickly started to dwindle and I began questioning what I was even doing up there.
I glanced at Polar watch to see how long we had been hiking for and I was stunned to see that it had only been 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES?! That felt like a half an hour at least. I started to doubt myself and wondered how I was going to last the few hours it would take to reach the summit.
However, as I trudged on through the light snow, I began to realize that this "weakness" I felt was really just all in my head. I reminded myself that I was in very good shape and that I had just hiked a 14er a few weeks ago and that I had no problem at all getting to the top.
While this did help a little, I knew what I really needed to do was get my mind off the journey ahead and instead focus on the moment. I knew I needed to distract my mind so that my body could continue to trek on.
If there's one thing that I've learned throughout my fitness journey, it's that becoming 'mentally fit' is often harder than becoming physically fit.
Overtime, I've been able to better deal with this by coming up with ways to distract my mind so that I can keep going and get over those mental roadblocks. I find that once I distract my mind for a bit, my body has time to adjust to the workout and it suddenly doesn't seem so bad. This allows me to keep going, and before I know it, the workout is done.
I thought I'd share 2 of my favorite tips that I use to distract my mind so that you can try them too the next time you face a mental roadblock. I used these few tricks when I was hiking the 14er and I was able to keep going until I reached the top.
How to overcome mental roadblocks:
1. Think about something you need to do later
I know this sounds silly, but it is honestly a good way to get your mind preoccupied and start a train of thought. No matter where you are or what you are doing, there will always be something you need to do later or the next the day.
When I was hiking the 14er, I started thinking about what else I needed to accomplish before the weekend ended and plenty of things came to mind. I thought about how I needed to do laundry, how I needed to remember to buy trash bags, and how I should probably write a few blog posts (riveting stuff, I know).
This made me start thinking about my blog and how I would need to come up with new post ideas and take some pictures. Before long, my mind was busy thinking about all the little details of my next post and I completely forgot about the struggle of hiking.
2. Listen to what is happening around you
Another trick I use to distract my mind is to start paying attention to the sound of my steps. When I was hiking, I listened to the crunch of the snow with every step I took. The steady rhythm of my footsteps became almost meditative and it helped me stay more focused in the moment instead of worrying about the journey ahead.
I then listened to other sounds, like the few birds chirping in the distance and the sound of the wind blowing through the trees.
I also do this when I'm at the gym, though the sounds aren't nearly as pleasant as the ones I'd hear on a hiking trail, it still works. When I'm doing a circuit, I listen for the sounds my feet make as I jump and hit the floor. I listen to the clanging sounds of the weight machines or the humming of the treadmills.
While I usually can't stay focused on hearing the sounds around me for too long, it's still a good way to keep myself distracted for a bit so that I can finish my workout without struggling.
So, the next time you are in a situation where you are facing a mental roadblock, go ahead and try one or both of these tricks! If you have any great tips of your own, feel free to share them as well!
Below are a few more pictures of my hike, including the view from the top of Grays Peak! I'm so glad I was able to push through because seeing that view was SO worth it!
PSA: My environmental scientist boyfriend would like me to let you all know that if you bring your dog on a 14er, it should be on a leash if you are above tree line as dogs threaten the endangered wildlife and plants up there. Plus, many 14ers are located in wilderness areas, where it is illegal for your dog to be off a leash anyway. (You're welcome, Samuel).