I believe one of the biggest challenges of young professionals in their late 20s is the occasional and sometimes prolonged mental block.

Harvard Business Review said in a 2016 article that quarter-life crises often come to those in their mid to late 20s. This may be due to the need for change but the incapability to handle a massive amount of it.

Making a life-changing decision is easy, but sticking to that decision is difficult and can leave any young professional scared, lonely, and overwhelmed.

A mix of these emotions is the perfect concoction for a mental block. The Sage Neuroscience Center creatively defines a mental block as your brain reaching a barrier in accessing creativity, motivation, or productivity.

The center recommends hitting the brain switch like a computer to reset it. But what if, turning the brain off and on won’t work?

I am in such a stage as a giant shift in my career has forced me to face walls I’ve never even realized were there. The walls close in all around me until I am boxed in.

My 32-year-old mentor (to whom I owe an apology for my last column after I wrongly guessed his age) said that I have been having difficulties tapping into the limbic system of my brain, the portion that handles the emotional response.

In truth, I have been trained to suppress my own emotions as a journalist. After all, when you’re writing about tragedies, crises, and problems, the last thing you want for yourself is to absorb everything.

It’s easy to take another person’s emotions into words, but a journalist is never allowed to consider her own emotion. Such is the price we pay for objectivity.

Now my career has shifted to creatives. The skilled emotional detachment that worked to my advantage in my former job turned into a barrier.

To get through that mental block, my mentor made me write four major words in red ink around a box.

He made me write as many words as I can that related to each major word until I found myself facing a page full of words that all made sense individually but scattered like red dust on the paper.

My mentor then made me draw arrows to connect one word to another.

My major words were Life, Change, Emotions, and Work. I wrote a total of 16 words and made thrice as many connections.

As I stared at my bloodied paper, something hit me that I dared not speak out loud...a probable solution, a way out.

I needed to move on.

I decided to change my life because I knew deep inside that I needed to grow. But I couldn’t let go of the life I loved and enjoyed for many years.

I know I would never exchange the life I have now and that I have found a brand new purpose in a different kind of storytelling. Yet old habits die hard.

Perhaps, this is what is causing distress among young professionals like me who have made the leap of faith in their personal lives and careers.

The change is easy, the letting go is not.

If you’re a young professional like me who is stuck in a prolonged mental block, take the time to do the box exercise.

Find the connection to your emotional core and figure out what’s stopping you from moving forward.

Perhaps, you need to stop looking for a way out around you but instead, look within you to find the clarity to move forward.