I’ve used daydreaming throughout my life as a coping mechanism, going so far as creating an entire world where I escaped to often. I’ve also used it as a rehearsal for everything from what to say to a noisy neighbor to how to explain a difficult medical issue to a doctor. Although living in a dream world isn’t recommended, daydreaming does have its benefits.
For one, daydreaming can significantly reduce stress. Are you facing major surgery? Final exams? A big project at work? Try zoning out. Think of a time when you had fun; a time when you were truly relaxed and happy. Maybe it was a road trip with your best friend, or the time when you scored the winning touchdown to clinch the state championship for your school’s football team. Imagine yourself there for a few moments, then come back to reality. Perhaps you’ll notice that the edge has been taken off a bit, allowing you to face the situation with a clearer head.
Practice for an Upcoming Event
Daydreaming also allows you to rehearse an important event, such as a job interview, a break up, or meeting future in-laws. Imagine yourself in the situation. What’s happening? What are people saying? How are you responding? Being prepared can considerably reduce anxiety, thus enabling you to enter the actual meeting with confidence.
Help Make a Dream Come True
You may have heard the expression, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” As with practicing for an upcoming event, you can picture yourself doing something you would really like to do. Have you always dreamed of being a veterinarian? Or maybe you have a secret desire to travel the world leading adventure tours. Whatever it is, take yourself there. What’s involved in the preparation? How can you find out information? Who can you consult? How can you make that dream a reality? Then go for it.
Occasionally I’ve battled writer’s block. The words just wouldn’t come. If this happens to you, let your mind wander and listen to what it comes up with. You might just find the words to get the piece moving again . Daydreaming can be useful to rehearse scenes for your latest story or novel as well. Does the dialog sound natural? Awkward? Do the scenes flow smoothly from one to the next? It also might be helpful to picture details in the surroundings to enhance the mood of the piece. Daydreaming can help spark an idea in any number of creative endeavors. If you’re stuck, pay a visit to the daydream world for some inspiration.
Make a Difficult Decision
Daydreaming is also helpful when making a difficult decision. Use your imagination to review various scenarios and options. Say you are looking for a new daycare center for your child. Your friends and family have recommended several places, and you’ve done your own research. They all seem good. How do you decide which one to go with? Imagine yourself in each facility again. You’re taking a tour, talking with staff, observing as they interact with the children. What vibes do you get when you relive the experience of each? Which one makes your feel most comfortable? Which one feels right? Listen to your gut as you work through your daydream toward an informed and thoughtful decision.
Daydreaming is a useful tool for rehearsing for reality or taking a short break from it. Used wisely, it can help you live a healthier life.
F. Diane Barth, LCSW, “Difficult decision to make? Your daydreams can help!” Psychology Today, Off the Couch, March 19, 2010
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.,”Can Daydreams-to-Order Unlock Your Creativity?” Psychology Today, Creating in Flow, December 6, 2009
Nikhil Swaminathan, “Escaping from the Insipid: Our Brains May Be Wired for Daydreaming,” Scientific American, January 18, 2007