Let Your Mind Wander
My husband often lies in bed after waking just to give himself time to think and daydream. I, on the other hand, was brought up that we need to get moving for the day so I am up and at the day as soon as I awaken. Daydreaming wasn’t considered a task high on the priority list when I was growing up. Perhaps that is why I never learned to do it. In fact, it was not something that we would admit we were taking time to do so the first time I heard my husband say he was daydreaming (or thinking), it caught my attention. However, my husband says that this is when he gets his best ideas or when he solves a problem he is working on, so I have paid attention to this and watched from afar with some awe.
As it turns out, my husband may be onto something. Apparently, there are some benefits to daydreaming and so intentionally daydreaming might be something to consider. Daydreaming has been found to activate the brain’s executive network. This is the area of the brain that is considered the executive of your brain and is associated with high-level, complex problem-solving. It can help to organize thoughts and helps a person to think of new ideas outside the box. According to the research, the less a person is aware that he/she is daydreaming, the more this part of the brain, the executive network and our “default network” which is associated with routine and easy mental activities, is activated. So if you are working on solving a complicated problem, engaging in simple tasks allows your mind to wander and this activates the executive network to solve the problem. (Four Reasons Why you Should Daydream More Often (Really!), 2009)
Taking this a bit further, studies show that the most beneficial type of daydreaming is the type where you are attentive to the fact that you are doing it. As you allow yourself to wander and drift off, you also want to have enough awareness to catch those creative thoughts that might be helpful to you. So you have to be able to interrupt the daydreaming moments to catch those insights. Ways to enhance this process might be to have a notebook handy to write down the ideas as they come, solidifying the creative ideas and new connections and helping you remember them when you become alert again.
Daydreaming not only increases your creativity, it is also helps increase one’s ability to deeply relax. Relaxing deeply is a good time for using your imagination but can also reduce stress levels quickly. Another benefit from daydreaming is that as you lower your stress levels, you also lower your blood pressure. Daydreaming is a form of hypnosis so when you enter into the state deeply, your relaxation is increased and your body responds accordingly.
Daydreaming can also help you access memories. If you are trying to remember details of something, daydreaming can help you fill in the details of this memory. Daydreaming may put you into a better state of mind because as you reduce stress, you can focus on positive visualization, putting you in an uplifted mood. Use your imagination time to bring in positive images, thoughts, feelings, or situations. This is as good as being there as your body does not know the difference. You may find you feel much better after the little “get-away” of your choice in your imagination.
And with that said, one word of caution: use your daydreaming time with some constraint as “constant daydreaming” can interfere with healthy living as we want to be present in our life and in our moments. Also there have been some studies that show that spending most of your day in a daydreaming state may be linked to Alzheimer’s. So everything is good in balance, as is daydreaming.
So now, kick back, relax, and let yourself go to a place that calms you, allows you to relax, and watch the thoughts and ideas as they float through your consciousness.
AC Associated Content Health and Wellness. (n.d.) Associated Content Health and Wellness. (2008, Jan 22). Retrieved July 23, 2009, from Associated Content.
Four Reasons Why you Should Daydream More Often (Really!). (2009, May 20). Retrieved July 23, 2009, from sixwise.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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