What is Mental Gymnastics and Mental Block in Gymnastics

by Mouli Chakraborty
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Gymnastics is a phrase we are well aware of. But have you heard about mental gymnastics? Astonished to listen to this phrase, right? Might be thinking, can mind too do gymnastics? Yes, it can!

However, though the phrase sounds like something positive, as if it’s a kind of workout regimen for keeping our brain fresh, it’s not actually so! It’s exactly the opposite of it! 

Mental Gymnastics is something that creates mental blocks in your mind that hinders you from thinking something freshly or positively—shocked, right?

Well! We, too, were shocked as you when we learned the meaning of the phrase for the first time. Anyway, Come! Let’s go deep and know everything about it. 

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Does Our Brain Attract Mental Gymnastics?

Yes, our brain loves performing mental gymnastics and attracts it towards itself. It tends to create mental blocks in gymnastics by spiralling destructive thought patterns into it.

Now, you may wonder, what is a mental block in gymnastics? Well! It is making up of excuses and arguments for unjustifiable and inexpiable decisions or situations. 

They are all the thoughts and reflections that play within a person that keeps him from doing the exact thing he is required to do.

For instance, thoughts like- “what if the thing will not be impressive enough?”, ” what will happen if I am unable to finish my homework in time? ” what happens if I fail to attend the train on time? And, so on. 

And, believe us! Your mind’s reaction at that moment will be worse. For instance, the replies that your mind will provide are- “It will certainly not impress anyone; thus, let me not squander my time on it “, ” Maybe I couldn’t finish off my homework in time so that I will quit it.”, “I will fail to catch the rail on time?” respectively, and so on. 

The result of mental gymnastics is analysis paralysis. As per a clinical psychologist, there’s a wide rift between making a target to do something and doing it in reality.

This has made the famous saying, “if you know something better, you will do that better”, to be false. 

This is because most people understand what they are required to do but fail to do that or at least feel it hard to do that. 

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How Do Mental Blocks In Gymnastics Happen?

How Do Mental Blocks In Gymnastics Happen
How Do Mental Blocks In Gymnastics Happen

According to Teri D. Davis, in the centre of understanding what to perform and performing it usually lies these one or more patterns of 5 mental gymnastics blocks:

  • Inadequacy of confidence 
  • Concern for failure
  • Self-sabotage
  • An inappropriate system for support 
  • Lack of motivation 

These thoughts act like defence mechanisms. Instead of helping us, they merely stand to create a block in our way.

We as humans are constantly inclined towards striving to lessen some kind of tension about something that happens by either avoiding it or escaping it. 

And, to reduce our emotion of tension that comes within our inner selves, our mind erects some defences that come as procrastination and convinces us that it is not good enough.

So, in the process, instead of getting motivated for the work, we get demotivated. 

But isn’t there any way to keep ourselves away from these mental gymnastics? Can’t we generate positive thoughts in our minds by avoiding these negative ones?

Well! The good news is that we definitely possess the power to discern when our mental blocks spiral into overdrive by switching up our approach. 

How To Help A Gymnast With A Mental Block?

How To Help A Gymnast With A Mental Block
How To Help A Gymnast With A Mental Block

There are specific ways through which mental gymnastics can be beaten. And they are:

Go For Behavioural Activation:

Anxiety is an important part of mental gymnastics, and anxiety always comes to one’s mind because of a lack of proper planning.

Ever cooked a dish for your office party and suddenly realized that you had forgotten to put an important ingredient within the dish?

We can realize how much panic will it create in your mind. But, better avoid becoming anxious or panic-stricken by following behavioural activation. 

Behavioural activation is doing different behaviours that will activate you for doing the work. But, what does it need? Okay! It needs your mapping, prioritizing, scheming, time management, and halts in between.

First, create a list of all the steps and resources required to complete the business. Then, rank the items considering their importance. 

Provide yourself with a time frame to complete each of the steps. You will feel excited about doing it as you are now crossing off things while completing them.

It heightens your motivation by triggering your brain to discharge many happy chemicals. 

Break Your Work Down:

Do you remember about the famous childhood story of the hare and the tortoise? The proud hare failed to win the race because though he was speedy, he was not steady.

His overconfidence made him lose the race. But, the slow yet steady tortoise wins the race. The same thing applies in this case. Instead of running in a hurry, do it slowly and steadily, and you will win the race. 

Don’t target to fulfil your task within a few hours. Instead, give your brain some time and break your work down. Do the work slowly but steadily.

To avoid mental blocks in gymnastics, take little steps on your work each day. It will not give you workload pressure at a time in the future.

Writing 200 words per day for five days is much easier to handle than writing a 1000 words assignment at a time. 

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Sometimes Lend Your Positive Thoughts An Opportunity:

We always remain busy with various anxious thoughts. But, have we ever questioned ourselves with positivity why we are anxious? Is there really anything to be worried about? And, isn’t there any solution to our problem? 

Negativity can always be beaten with positivity. So, what we are needed to avoid in mental gymnastics is a bit of positivity. We should resort to a mindful approach by taking deep breaths. This deep breath will help you to create a space from your supreme emotional thoughts.  

This deep breath will slow down your thinking, and keeping anxiety aside, it will help you to ask yourself some questions- ” why am I afraid” or “what is there to fear about? It will give you a chance to speculate in an unvarnished way. 

When you realize the fact that you as a person is never your thoughts’ sum total, you will get the power to come out of the negative thoughts running inside your head. Instead, go back to your real self and learn about the actions you can take to move forwards. 

Yes, mental gymnastics are indeed done by all of our minds to some extent, sometimes at the level of an Olympic. However, we have gotten the power to change this approach with the help of a little interest and kindness towards one’s own self. 

Wrapping Up:

So, mental gymnastics is really a problem for our healthy life and positive thinking. But, it can also be removed from our minds by following the above techniques and resorting to positivity. 


Q.1. What does gymnastics do to your brain?

Answer: Mental gymnastics makes our minds think negative things. It makes you feel anxious about everything every time. 

Q.2. Does gymnastics affect your mental health?

Answer: Yes, mental gymnastics negatively affects your mental health. You will be left with all kinds of anxious thoughts and feelings throughout the day. You will suffer from fear, insecurity, lack of focus, and anxiety. 

Q.3. How common are mental blocks in gymnastics?

Answer: Mental blocks in gymnastics are common to most of us. It happens mainly at the time that is most inconvenient for us.

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