Self / 08.09.2015

6 reasons why daydreaming is good for you

By Kerry Potter
Science says it's the surprising creativity boost you needed

daydreaming is good for youThink heads-down concentration is the key to productivity? If daydreaming is your guilty pleasure, we’ve got good news – it may actually be the secret of your success.

1. Daydreams aren’t a waste of time
Research shows that up to 50 per cent of our waking thoughts are daydreams. And yet we dismiss them as a guilty pleasure, a pointless moment of reverie, or mere procrastination when we should really be planning the family meals or concentrating in a meeting.

2. It’s a productive state of mind
Amy Fries, author of Daydreams At Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers (Capital Books, £2.93, Kindle), says: ‘In our to-do list world, people think daydreaming is synonymous with being lazy, when in many ways it’s our most productive state of mind.’ Consider, she says, that spike of energy and excitement you get when you have a great idea, and you jump out your seat to write it down.

3. Daydreaming is a source of healing and self-discovery
Fries says: ‘Daydreams help us cope with emotions, think positively, manage conflict, reaffirm values, maintain memories and build self-esteem. They also act as a source of self-discovery and self-revelation.’

4. Mental relaxation is important
Daydreaming is also a useful pause for thought during a busy day. While we’re aware of the importance of physical breaks – if we’re staring at a screen all day, we stretch our legs and walk around the office; or if we’re running around after children, we might squeeze in five minutes to sit down with a coffee – we’re less likely to try to incorporate a moment of mental relaxation into our schedule.

5. Daydreaming is good for creativity
Another major benefit of letting our minds roam freely is enhanced creativity (just think about how much more creatively you work, or problem-solve, when you untether your mind from daily demands and let it have a nice little rummage around in the deeper recesses of your brain).

‘One of the biggest discoveries of neuroscience is the fact that the brain is very active when we are not doing anything or specifically focused on anything,’ says Tony Crabbe, business psychologist and author of Busy: How To Thrive In A World Of Too Much (Piatkus, £14.99).

6. Your brain is active while daydreaming
Crabbe says: ‘We’d assumed the brain would just take a rest when we switch off, but it doesn’t. This is because of something called the default network that allows the brain to digest information and make new connections, which is the essence of creativity. It’s this process that triggers those “Aha!” moments.’

He is a big fan of daydreaming and its creativity-boosting potential, believing we should unplug from our Kindles and phones to make time for quiet contemplation.

What other ways do you help your brain relax? Tweet and tell us @healthymag or join in the conversation on our Facebook page

6 reasons why daydreaming is good for you
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6 reasons why daydreaming is good for you
Don't believe what you've heard: daydreaming really is good for you, your brain and your creativity.
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