I have come to realise that I am quite the daydreamer. I think I have always known this, but never really paid that much attention to it - let alone outwardly admit it!
Why, well because daydreamers are often thought of as lazy and that is certainly one thing I’d like to think that I am not.
However recently I read an article about daydreaming. This article didn’t just infer that it was a trait of laziness but declares daydreaming is actually bad for your mental health and could even lower your intelligence!
There is definitely a stigma around daydreaming, many people associate it not only with being lazy, but also distracted or disinterested. I would say this is particularly prevalent in academic situations. I remember being at school and teachers shouting at the students who were taking a moment to gaze out of the window - ‘stop daydreaming and get on with your work’.
But for me, my daydreaming is often intentional. What starts out as a ‘moment away’ from a particular task or situation can turn into a daydream – but a daydream with a purpose – one that opens up a world of possibilities.
I am not going to lie, sometimes it does just turn into a daydream about lying in the sunshine on a beach in Greece too!
Due to my fondness for daydreaming, I am very keen for it not to be deemed in anyway bad for me. So I decided to look into what else has been written around this topic and luckily I found that there have been loads of studies to claim daydreaming can actually be helpful in many ways.
I want to share with you six of the most positive effects of daydreaming. Many of these regularly help me during my working week.
- Problem solving – studies have established that if you leave working on a complex problem to perform a more simple task (which therefore allows you space to daydream) you are more likely to return to the complex problem with a solution.
- Reflection – allows us to better understand situations and people, which in turn means we can become more open-minded, empathetic and mindful of those around us.
- Creativity – when we daydream we are disconnected from our immediate surroundings. Allowing our minds to travel around different parts of the brain collecting different bits of information which can then lead to new creative ideas. JK Rowling credits daydreaming with some of her very best ideas, surely this is a good enough reason on its own!
- Relaxation and stress relief – research has proven that daydreaming is like a low-level self-hypnosis, reducing your stress levels as a result. The act of daydreaming means that your brain involuntarily semi shuts down which can provide you with moments of much needed relaxation. You can also use daydreaming as a type of simulation for a particular situation you are worried about. For example if you are nervous about a presentation, by playing it out in your mind it can make you better prepared and less stressed for the actual event.
- Memory recall – working memory is your brain’s ability to store and then recall memories despite distractions. Since daydreaming exercises your capacity to recall and reflect on memories and sometimes, serves as a distraction in itself, it conditions your brain to have better emphasis in recalling such types of memories. This has come in very handy over the years.
- Make you happier – Ultimately, and maybe most importantly, I believe daydreaming can actually make you happier. There is a proven correlation between hope, anticipation and joy which are all by-products of daydreaming.
I think it is fascinating that this little quirky behaviour of our brains can not only lead to increased productivity and creativity but also contribute to the wellbeing of a person’s mental health.
Although I am not sure teachers will be ready to embrace the daydreamers quite yet, but for me I don’t think I have the self-control to curtail my daydreams and to be quite honest I don’t think I want to.
So next time you see someone gazing out of the window remember it could be intentional and providing their brain with the space to rest, create or recall.
As for me I am still hoping it will lead to my very own creative JK Rowling moment.
Daydreaming - a short-term detachment from one's immediate surroundings, during which a person's contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass, and experienced while awake.
Hannah Irwin has over 10 years experience working at Impact and is a Content Marketer, specialising in awards submissions, showcasing the inspirational work we do with our clients.