6 weird, scientific tips for inspiring A+ ideas when you're stuck in a rut.

We've all experienced the struggle of trying to be creative on demand, only to be paralyzed by a major brain block.

You know how it goes. You sit down at your desk, ready to brainstorm some sweet ideas.

"I can do this," you say to yourself. "I'm a smart person. This will be a piece of cake."


You have everything you need at your desk. You're good! You're high energy!

You need a big idea? Yeah! You have big ideas all the time!

Like ... uh...

...uh...

GIFs from "Big Hero 6."

Shoot.

When you're stuck for ideas, it might feel like you've hit a wall. Everyone's been in this position at some point or another, and we've all heard the standard "fixes" for this brain blockage — things to stimulate your brain like taking a walk, talking to a friend, or keeping a journal.

But ... what if those things don't work for you?

Here are six weird, scientifically backed, ways to get your creative brain juices flowing again:

1. Work on your project at whatever time of day is usually your least productive.

Feel most alert early in the morning? You might want to wait 'til the late afternoon before trying to draft the next chapter in your novel.

Photo via iStock.

In a 2011 experiment, participants were consistently more insightful at non-optimal times of the day compared to optimal ones.

It turns out that while being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed might be good for analytical tasks like logic puzzles or math, that highly focused energy can crowd out the eureka moments. But if you try writing that chapter at a time that doesn't feel optimal for you, you might find new solutions and possibilities come more easily.

2. Take a walk in a cemetery or think about death. No, seriously.

Trying to write a song and the lyrics just aren't coming? One weird way to force yourself to be more creative might be to think about death.

Many different studies — like this one about humor and this one about creative expression — have suggested that, under the right conditions, indulging our morbid sides might help unlock new ideas.

Image from ju-dit/Pixabay.

There are some caveats to this advice: For example, the humor study found that this only worked if participants were subconsciously shown morbid stuff, and the results of the creative expression study kind of fall apart if participants dwelled a little to much on their own mortality.

But if you're already in a creative rut, why not try doodling the reaper man, walking through a cemetery, or even just changing to your favorite "The Walking Dead" computer background? Who knows, a little subconscious morbidity might just help you find the inspiration for the muse you've been looking for.

3. Try turning off the lights and working in the dark.

If you need to come up with an elegant solution to a complicated coding problem, for example, it might be time to draw those shades and embrace the darkness like you're a vampire, or Batman.

We all want to be Batman. Photo via iStock.

“Darkness increases freedom from constraints, which in turn promotes creativity." That's according to two researchers in Germany who were studying employee creativity.

Turning the lights down low gives a greater sense of freedom and reduced inhibition, which can increase creativity and help us come up with new workarounds or solutions for whatever we're stuck on.

(By the way, if you regularly work in a dark environment, consider getting a screen dimmer, like f.lux, to reduce eyestrain.)

4. You know that co-worker or relative you never agree with? Show them where you're stuck.

If you've got to pitch an idea to your boss and it's just not coming, don't just reach out to your friends for help, because — in this case — your worst enemy might also be your creativity's best ally.

Craig, your exaggerated hand movements are getting problematic. Photo via iStock.

It might seem like every single office brainstorm starts with the phrase, "There are no bad ideas," but if you need something truly innovative, you should be seeking out dissent, not agreement.

"Dissent, debate, and competing views have positive value, stimulating divergent and creative thought," says one study from 2004.

Having to defend your ideas is not only a quick and easy way to expose any flaws in your thinking, but also helps bring up new viewpoints or snags you may not have considered before. If all your office buddy and you are doing is agreeing with each other, you're just listening to your own echoes and getting nowhere.

5. Take a few minutes to stir up some nostalgia by trawling through your old Facebook photos.

If all your paintings are starting to seem tired or you're stuck on the opening paragraph of your next essay, you might be able to jolt your creative muscle with a little nostalgia.

Like, remember that time we had actual physical photo albums? Photo via iStock.

In 2013, researchers in Hong Kong found that by asking study participants to remember nostalgic events, they could stimulate the participant's creative juices.

"Results showed that participants who were primed with nostalgic experience demonstrated higher creativity," said their paper.

So if you're feeling stuck, go ahead and open up those old pictures from college, try to ignore how awful your fashion sense was, and try to remember what that one professor's name was. It might just make your next painting a new Picasso or your essay an A-minus at least.

6. This last suggestion is the best one — have a drink.

Image from tookapic/Pixabay.

Stuck on what to make your next YouTube video about? Can't figure out the perfect angle for the big pitch you need to deliver this week? I'm not advocating drinking at work or to excess (drink responsibly), but it turns out that being slightly tipsy can help people come up with more creative ideas.

Alcohol decreases focus, which is bad for analytical or intensive tasks but freeing for creative ones. Just don't take it too far — alcohol also makes it harder to weed out the bad ideas from the good ones! So brainstorm with a beer, sure, but it's still probably best you make any big decisions sober. The world doesn't need more "social experiment" videos.

Creativity is weird, but we can learn how to summon it.

We're still learning how the brain comes up with ideas, so take all these tips with a grain of salt. Creativity isn't as simple as the old left-brain = logic, right brain = emotion idea, for example. It's more like a conversation between many different parts of your brain.

And, of course, creativity only takes you so far if you're not also willing to work on it.

But if you're banging your head on a desk, despair not. Your brain is full of ideas, you've just got to unlock them. Maybe these tips can help.

Family

Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

RELATED: This sneaky guide dog is too pure for this world. A hilarious video proves it.

The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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