Hormone Imbalance Side Effect: Your brain is on vacation
Have you ever spent 15 minutes banging out an e-mail that should have taken 30 seconds, or struggled to articulate an idea during a business meeting? Look at the calendar: You were probably about to get your period. Estrogen levels drop during menstruation, which triggers a subsequent drop in mental acuity. "When there are high levels of estrogen during ovula- tion, women experience a boost in their verbal skills," says Pauline Maki, Ph.D., an associate professor in psychiatry and psychology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. That's when you're more likely to finish the Sunday crossword puzzle quickly or nail a work presentation.
What to do about a lagging mental acuity caused by hormone imbalance:
"There are a few things you can do to compensate for your fuzzy thinking," says Maki. To crunch through a pressing deadline, schedule a sweat-breaking workout. In a recent study, researchers from the University of Muenster in Germany found that regular runners learned new vocabulary words 20 percent faster than those who had a less intense workout or did nothing at all. The authors believe that the greater physical activity increased levels of certain brain chemicals that promote attention and learning. But don't forget to make time for sleep and relaxing downtime at the end of your day, since stress and fatigue can further drain your brain.