An article came out recently that talked about the value of daydreaming, and I wanted to share the highlights with you. It’s pretty crazy, sometimes we get so caught up in the world in our minds that we rest motionless, visualizing an imaginary world.
It could be replaying the sequence of an experience you’re trying to remember, generating new insights about a thought that interests you, or going down some “rabbit hole” of interconnected ideas that only make sense to you. When we snap out of it we laugh about where we went in our minds, but if we’re being critical, would rather have stayed focused on our immediate tasks.
The article shares that the daydreaming process is actually extremely important for brain function and is a very healthy thing to do.. The reason why is because daydreaming creates a state of what scientists call “quiet wakefulness”. This brain state has incredible benefits.
First is it’s a form of mindfulness. Mindfulness helps to offset stress and anxiety by deactivating your nervous system, and rather than meditating and getting really quiet, we can use daydreaming to accomplish the same. In fact we often judge ourselves if we can’t stay focused during a meditation, and the suggestion here is that doesn’t compromise the mindfulness benefits you’re receiving.
Quiet wakefulness also is an optimal learning environment for the brain. When we daydream at the end of the day, it actually helps to encode our memory of it. And beyond that, it is considered to be a creative process that activates the right hemisphere of the brain. This allows us to be more imaginative and inventive in our thinking, and helps us with problem solving challenges. But not only do you get these benefits in the moment while you’re daydreaming, but hours afterwards as well while your brain is still influenced by that “quiet wakefulness” state.
In my personal experience, one of the most productive things I do is I create designated “thinking” time on my calendar. To be honest, I don’t do enough of it. It helps me make plans, rethink strategy, and consider alternatives that I hadn’t before. With this new information about daydreaming, I’m going to try elevating my “thinking time” and let my mind wander just a little bit more and see how it goes!