5 Positive Effects of Daydreaming

New Research Finds Daydreaming Is Good For Our Health

5 Positive Effects of Daydreaming

Researchers have found that daydreaming is good for us, but we are surprisingly bad at it.


Daydreaming has been under attack for generations. As children we were told to “get that head the clouds and pay attention.” In adulthood recent studies have told us that mind-wandering seemed to makes us unhappy because it usually leads to negative rumination.

Now a group of researchers are heroically defending daydreaming AND insisting we all need to learn how to do it more. Contrary to popular opinion, daydreaming is actually an important activity in the brain. Daydreaming, or ‘thinking for pleasure’ actually has important health benefits.

“This is part of our cognitive toolkit that’s underdeveloped, and it’s kind of sad,” says psychology professor and study author Erin Westgate in a press release.

In the study, published in Emotion, the authors write, “When given the freedom, people do not spontaneously choose to think for pleasure, and when directed to do so, struggle to concentrate successfully.

Moreover, people find it somewhat boring and much less enjoyable than other solitary activities.

” The study authors speculate that people simply don’t know what to think about in order to think for pleasure, or daydream.

It’s this inability of adults to know how to enjoy thinking that has led to recent advice from positive psychology researchers telling us to stay focused on the present and avoid letting our minds wander.

That’s because some research has shown that mind-wandering often leads to rumination, and obsessing on the negative is definitely not good for us. But mind-wandering is not the same thing as rumination, and our brains actually spend about 50% of the time doing it.

Recent research has found that our brains do it because it helps us find innovative solutions to problems. Maybe daydreaming has a good side to it too?

Daydreaming is an entirely different cognitive activity from either mind-wandering or rumination. According Westgate and her co-authors, daydreaming is ‘thinking for pleasure,’ and it’s harder than we think. Which could be why scientists have previously found that daydreaming at work can make us more innovative.

Westgate says that in order to daydream, “You have to be the actor, director, screenwriter and audience of a mental performance. Even though it looks you’re doing nothing, it’s cognitively taxing.”  But it’s worth it, because daydreaming has positive health benefits, increased wellbeing or improved pain tolerance.

Daydreaming is a skill

To determine if people could regain the skill of daydreaming they had as children, the researchers started by coaching them to think ‘meaningful thoughts.’ It was terrible. Not only did the study participants not have the rewarding experience the researchers intended, they thought their own unguided thoughts were more pleasant.

“I was so confused,” Westgate says. But that was before she checked with participants on what they had been thinking about. “It was heavy stuff. It didn’t seem to occur to them that they could use the time to enjoy their own thoughts.” 

On the other hand, prompting study participants to think for fun led them to think of treats cake or avocado toast and not to the deep satisfaction of a daydream.

Then the researchers discovered the trick to daydreaming. Westgate gave study participants examples of topics to think about that were both pleasant and meaningful. With that prompt, the participants reported that they enjoyed themselves 50% more than they did when they were told to think about anything they d.

Westgate was delighted. She believes daydreaming is “something that sets us apart. It defines our humanity. It allows us to imagine new realities.”

But that doesn’t make it easy. “This is hard for everybody. There’s no good evidence that some types of people are simply better thinkers. I’m the world’s worst person at this,” Westgate says. “But knowing why it can be hard and what makes it easier really makes a difference. The encouraging part is we can all get better.” 

Westgate believes daydreaming is something that requires practice. But she also argues the effort is worth it, because daydreaming can reshape our emotions and make us happier. And experienced daydreamers can draw on the skill when they are under stress.

How to have pleasant daydreams

Westgate knows it can be hard to train our minds for daydreaming. “We’re fairly clueless,” she says. “We don’t seem to know what to think about to have a positive experience.”

But Westgate also points out that, “This is something all of us can do once you have the concept. We give 4- and 5-year-olds these instructions, and it makes sense to them.”  Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Believe that daydreaming is a skill you can build with practice.
  2. Remind yourself that this is not a time to run your to-do list or plan a vacation.
  3. Try it out when you are doing something only mildly engaging, folding laundry or taking a shower. When the brain is slightly occupied, we are more ly to daydream. “The next time you’re walking, instead of pulling out your phone, try it,” Westgate says. 
  4. Most importantly, tell yourself that daydreaming can feel wonderful if you prompt your thoughts with subjects you enjoy.

Источник: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisonescalante/2021/03/23/daydreaming-is-under-attack-now-researchers-say-its-good-for-our-health/


5 Positive Effects of Daydreaming

“Everything starts as somebody’s daydream.” -Larry Niven

Do you ever find yourself fantasizing about anything and everything? Maybe as a way of keeping yourself busy and distracted by thoughts of the future, possibilities, and the what-ifs of life? Do you get lost in these thoughts for the sake of them bringing you a sense of joy and peace? If so, you may be daydreaming. Daydreaming can be described as thoughts of the imagination that act as a distraction from the present and reality.

Frequency of Daydreaming

Daydreams tend to come and go throughout our days, lasting for both long and short periods of time. According to Psychology Today, research has shown that “as many as 96% of adults engage in having at least one b daily fantasies”.

Although they can sometimes seem sporadic and short-lived, daydreaming actually takes up a much more significant amount of time than one may guess; as it is estimated that up to half of our lives are spent imagining and daydreaming.

Why Do You Daydream?

There are different reasons and beliefs as to why people find themselves lost in thought and thinking about the possibilities of life. Some of these reasons include:

  • Daydreaming about the future
    • Thinking about something that may be happening in the near or long-term future
      • Prompted by the anxiety of the future
      • Prompted by the excitement of the future
  • Losing focus during a task/boredom
    • The mind can wander when we are bored with an activity or everyday chore
      • Working, reading, watching television

Psychological Benefits of Daydreaming

Whether you find yourself having short bouts or long-term spells of daydreaming, there are in fact positive side effects from daydreaming. Dr.

Muireann Irish, who studies the neurobiology of daydreaming in people suffering from dementia at Neuroscience Research Australia, admits that daydreaming has a bad reputation.

She has stated that “many people view daydreaming as being detrimental or a waste of time or a bad use of mental power”. When in reality there are indeed benefits to daydreaming, according to wakeup-world.com, there are 5 psychological benefits to daydreaming:

  1. Creativity & problem solving
    1. When we allow our mind to wander, we can come up with different, new, and innovative ways to do things and solve problems
  2. Enhanced memory
    1. Studies have found a correlation between daydreaming and working memory (the ability to conserve and recall data and details when we are distracted)
  3. Empathy
    1. Daydreamers have the power of imagination and therefore have the ability to imagine themselves in another person’s situation, demonstrating empathy for others
  4. Focus
    1. The use of modern technology as a form of distraction for the mind to reset our focus
  5. Incubation
    1. Daydreaming allows our unconscious minds to present themselves in our present lives

Psychological Negatives of Daydreaming

Although it is refreshing to learn that there are benefits of daydreaming, we are more familiar with the notion of daydreaming having a bad rap. Some of the negative side effects of daydreaming include:

  • Creates unproductivity
    • If a person becomes constantly distracted for long periods of time, they can lose the total sense of focus and purpose
    • This can be detrimental in the workplace if you are needing to meet goals and project deadlines
  • Forgetfulness
    • If a person gets lost in their thoughts, they may lose sight of what they were supposed to be doing or where they were supposed to be going
  • Cause for injury
    • Daydreaming can be physically harmful if the mind wanders while doing something physical (exercising, moving something heavy, or operating an appliance or machine)
  • Negative thoughts
    • Somebody who daydreams perpetually about the negative, not positive, thoughts or ideas can spiral down a dark tunnel

Negative Daydreaming Effects on Mental Health

The word daydream sounds fantasy-, filled with positive and luxurious thoughts and opportunities for the future. However, this is not always the case. Sadly, if a person gets distracted regularly with negative thoughts about oneself this can lead to very serious mental health issues, including:

  • Depression
    • When distracting thoughts are filled with poor images and views of oneself, a person may experience feelings of depression
  • Suicide
    • If a person spends their mind wandering time envisioning themselves inflicting self-harm or committing suicide, this can be extremely dangerous
  • Anxiety
    • Negative thoughts may create even more worry and fear about yourself and the future

If you or somebody you know daydreams about negative thoughts, images, or emotions please reach out for professional help immediately.

Modern Day Daydreaming

“Get off your phone!” Sound familiar? Whether this is something your spouse is constantly nagging at you about, or you are working on this as a self-goal, it is very common in our current culture. Our phones have become a source of addiction for many people in today’s society.

We use our phones to do things such as surf the web, flip through Instagram photos, and swipe right (or left) on dating apps. Although this can be sour for our social communication, interpersonal relationships, and ability to stay present at the moment, it also serves as a source of daydreaming.

When we tune out the outside world, we tune into our phones to refocus and quiet ourselves from the world around us.

Tips to Stay Present

Regardless of whether your daydreaming thoughts are serving you positively or negatively in your personal life, it is always a healthy reminder to stay present for the sake of ourselves and others around us. Here are a few ways you can try to stay more present in your life:

  • Get rid of junk and items in your home that do not serve a purpose to you anymore, these items can sometimes act as physical distractions for the mind
  • Change up your routine
  • Stay busy
  • Find new hobbies
  • Discover new interests
  • Set new goals
  • Mediation (for the sake of silencing the mind)
  • Mindful breathing


Clarity Clinic

At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff who specialize in psychotherapy and psychiatry services. To learn more about how we can support your mental health, call Clarity Clinic on (312) 815-9660 or schedule an appointment today.

Источник: https://www.claritychi.com/daydreaming/amp/

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