Updated: Mar 16
Science-based advantages in allowing your mind to wander.
I remember as a child I would travel the world in a day. I would conquer new planets. Meet new races. Save someone in distress.
All the adventures would happen in my head. I was daydreaming.
I remember feeling elated, free and thrilled.
Then as I got older, I started feeling ashamed about my adventures in a fantasy land.
As adults, we frown upon daydreaming. We usually label it as childish, immature, or even shameful.
There are also certain metal illnesses associated with excessive daydreaming.
Modern psychology, however, has busted the negative myth on occasional daydreaming and proven that it is helpful, healthy and even beneficial! Hooray!
There are studies done using MRI scans that reveal that areas responsible for motivation, language and spontaneity lit up during daydreaming. That means when daydreaming we are exercising our brain and learning new emotional responses.
Another study found out that daydreaming could aid creative insights. Yet, daydreaming prevents analytic thought, according to the same study.
Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious." - Thomas Edison
Below you will find 5 ways daydreaming is good for you:
1. Problem-solving aid
In the ScienceDaily article, researchers suggest daydreaming could help with problem-solving. Unlike previously thought, daydreaming does not mean laziness. Our brain is apparently more active during daydreaming than during focused tasks.
2. Low mood remedy
Psychology Today ran with a post suggesting that daydreaming might improve low mood. By allowing one's mind to wander while focusing on something, we switch the tasks and as a result refresh our brain. This could aid in lowering stress and improving mood.
3. Creativity boost
Professor Stuart Thompson, Neurobiologist from Stanford University, writes how daydreaming might help to prime our subconscious for creativity. Our brain remains highly active and works on consolidating our memories while we are asleep. If you daydream about a problem before going to sleep you might have an 'aha moment' when you wake up.
4. A mild escape from reality
Daydreaming could serve as an escape route during tough times by offering a respite from our reality. We could daydream before going to sleep and encourage our brain to create new pathways, or daydream while doing chores to make the task more enjoyable.
I remember during COVID lockdowns I would daydream about that day when we could hug our loved ones again and let happiness hormones flood my body. It helped me to stay strong and positive about the future. Every day I would spend those priceless imaginary moments with my far away friends and family. It was better than not stressing out about things.
5. Support personal transformation
Daydreaming or mind-wandering might help with our personal transformation as a lot of unconscious thinking is happening in the background without our conscious attention. Jennifer Windt, a senior research fellow in philosophy puts it this way:
By providing a transient glimpse of an alternative self and world, they can sometimes prompt an enduring change in perspective.
By imagining that we are someone else we might find new solutions and fresh ways of thinking.
But regardless of obvious science-based benefits, occasional daydreaming is a pleasant activity in itself. It does not require special training or tools. You don't need to show your process or results to anyone. You spend some time enjoying your own company and the vast possibilities that your brain is offering to you. What is there not to love?
Do you daydream at all?