lightbulbI don’t know about you, but there are lots of times I need a killer idea that’s just going to wow someone–like when I’m writing article proposals for my editors, when I’m picking out birthday gifts for someone or when I’m planning a fun date with Douglas.

Luckily, if I’m in my Week 2 (the week leading up to ovulation), creative ideas come streaming out of my brain by the dozen.

That’s because brainstorming skills spike in Week 2 of your cycle, according to a 1994 study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. Credit goes to peaking estrogen, which revs mental energy so you think faster on your feet. Plus, it makes you less judgmental about what you dream up. Together, these hormonal effects enable you to bubble over with great ideas.

But, does this mean you can’t come up with ideas that wow during other weeks of your cycle?

Not at all! You may simply need to put a little more effort into it since lower levels of estrogen can make your brain a bit sluggish or make you more critical of plans you come up with.

To make things easier for you, researchers have uncovered several simple techniques to overcome these hormonal hurdles and unlock your creativity so you can impress folks with amazing ideas any week of your cycle.

Here are 5 to try:

1. Imagine putting together unexpected combinations that would never work, like a peanut butter and marbles sandwich. This prompts the brain to think more abstractly, triggering more creative ideas, research shows.

2. Sit in a room with high ceilings. This frees your mind and fosters more abstract thinking, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

3. Literally sit outside a box (or cubicle or square shape of any kind). A 2012 study in the journal Psychological Science suggests this tells the brain to try something new.

4. Walk in a non-linear way (for instance, zig-zagging or wandering around), which encourages the brain to explore ideas that are “off the beaten path”, the same 2012 study found.

5. Tightly squeeze a tennis ball with your left hand for four minutes (you can take rest breaks if you need to). Tensing muscles in your left hand triggers a surge of activity in your brain’s right hemisphere–the side where creative ideas originate, according to a 2010 study in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

If any of these ideas help you come up with a great idea, I’d love to hear about it!

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Gabrielle Lichterman is a longtime women’s health and lifestyle journalist whose articles have appeared in dozens of major magazines and newspapers around the globe including Cosmopolitan, CosmoGIRL, Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Daily News and Woman’s World. Gabrielle began developing Hormonology and the Hormone Horoscope in 1999 and has been sharing menstrual cycle-related research and tips through her apps, blog, book and newsletter ever since. Learn more at MyHormonology.com.
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