Daydreaming May Have Some Huge Mental Health Benefits

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There might be good news for those with their head in the clouds. Daydreaming, thought to be an escape from reality, might actually have some positive effects on your lived experience. Behavioral Scientist defines daydreaming as "mind-wandering" or "our thoughts drifting away from the present moment."


According to research cited by The Harvard Gazette in 2010, humans spend 46.9% of their waking hours "thinking about something other than what they're doing." That's nearly half the day spent in la la land. With increasing deadlines, bills to pay, and an ongoing global pandemic, there seems to be plenty to worry about, but also plenty to dream into existence. Whether it's visualizing all the errands you have to run or thinking back to your romantic date over the weekend, the mind loves to stay active, thinking about what's to come and the memories we've created.

Even though we happen to do it every couple of minutes, it seems we've been conditioned since childhood to avoid daydreaming. Now, science believes tapping into mental fantasy could be better for us than we think.


Daydreaming is natural and lets the brain rest

In a fast-paced world that encourages productivity, daydreaming has long been looked down upon. In a 2011 edition of the Darmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science, Los Angeles-based clinical hypnotherapist John McGrail explained that daydreaming represents "non-doing" while we are constantly pressured to be proactive, energetic, and motivated. But experts say that daydreaming is completely normal and functions as another state of consciousness or level of awareness that naturally fluctuates throughout the day (via 


According to the medical experts at WebMD, this natural state of mental rest is beneficial in helping the brain to relax. Daydreaming provides moments of tranquility that protect the brain from overstimulation from the real world. 

Daydreaming powers creativity

Not only does daydreaming increase relaxation, but research has also found that it can actually lead to inspirational breakthroughs. According to the University of California, Berkeley's Greater Good Magazine, there is a link between mind-wandering and creativity. The level to which your creativity is affected by daydreaming depends on several factors, including how "freely moving" your thoughts are and your ability "to be removed" from real life.


A 2012 study in the Psychological Science journal also found that daydreaming might create the perfect mental atmosphere for creative incubation. However, researchers at Behavioral Scientist emphasize that you're more likely to get a rush of creativity from daydreaming when your mind is exploring ideas and scenarios that are meaningful to you, even if they're unrelated to your current task.

Daydreaming can lead to problem-solving

If you have a problem that you just can't crack, daydreaming can help you to find the solution you're looking for. According to Everyday Health, a positive side effect of an increase in creativity is an improved ability to solve problems. By spending a little time daydreaming during the day, you may find that the answers to your problems present themselves to you, or you're easily able to think of several and imaginative ways of tackling an issue. This can be especially helpful at work.


It helps you to visualize goals

Psychologist and author of several self-help books Dr. Bo Bennett, per AllAuthor, is credited with the famous quote: "Visualization is daydreaming with purpose." As much as we think of productivity as taking action and creating tangible efficiency, there is also mental efficacy that is natural and necessary in any ideation process.


According to life coach Julie Leonard who wrote the book, "Intentional Happiness: The Life-Changing Guide To Being Happy and Staying Happy," daydreaming helps us to narrow in on our goals by practicing visualization. Intentional visualization helps us to gain a clearer picture of what we want, improve our self-image, and create positive thoughts about the future. If you can harness daydreaming as a tool for intentional living, it could be the pre-set to creating a life with purpose.

Daydreaming can possibly reduce pain

Fantasizing about positive thoughts, or daydreaming, has even been shown to increase pain tolerance, per Forbes. By visualizing happy thoughts, the brain creates "future memories," which forges new neural pathways (via SIRPA). Unfortunately many are unaware of the power daydreaming holds.


Psychology professor and author Erin Westgate, Ph.D., reveals that daydreaming is actually an incredibly underdeveloped tool of our brain and that "it's kind of sad" how little we use it, per University of Florida. She encourages everyone to build their daydreaming muscles in order to have a source of enjoyable thoughts to relieve them in stressful times. "[Daydreaming] is something that sets us apart. It defines our humanity. It allows us to imagine new realities," Westgate says. "But that kind of thinking requires practice."