Who doesn’t love a good daydream? Imagining yourself with feet in the water, cocktail in hand, lying on a white sandy beach. Or maybe yours is getting a massage from Brad Pitt.
Of course, it’s usually followed by returning to reality with an unpleasant snap. But……..is it possible that the daydream is actually beneficial? Not just while you’re having it but as a general boost to your wellbeing?
According to a researcher from 1955 Jerome Singer, there is a particular type of daydreaming that is very good for our wellbeing. He believed that imagination and fantasy are essential elements to positive mental health and wellbeing.
If you’ve been reading my stuff, you know how I like to write about taking time out, making sure you have time off, doing nothing, and carving out chill time.
My mate Jerome (and the subsequent research) seems to support the idea that not being smack bang in the middle of reality and doing sensible shit all the time is the way to better mental health.
If we take time to engage in some ‘positive constructive daydreaming’ – having playful, wishful fantasies, and planful creative thinking – we can experience many benefits. Here’s just a few:
Happy daydreams can leave us feeling refreshed and more effective.
They help with:
- future planning,
- attentional cycling (which helps us make the most of different attentional streams to make pursuing our goals easier), and
- dishabituation (improves learning through giving us short breaks from external tasks).
Pretty good right?
Of course if you find yourself engaging in less helpful mind wandering activities like ‘guilty-dysphoric daydreaming’ – if you know dysphoric means pretty unhappy then this is pretty self-explanatory; or the mind-wandering that we normally associate with poor attentional control then those lovely benefits are not likely to be coming your way.
The idea is that you are doing things that are increasing good feelings and creatively rehearsing positive things that you would do, manage or create for your future.
So go forth today and be a happy daydreamer.