Your homework is due soon, and your exam is coming up in less than a month. But no matter how hard you want to focus on getting everything done, your mind can’t stop wandering.
If you find it hard to pay attention when you need to, then you’re not alone. Your brain is hardwired to take trips to Lala Land more often than you would like. What makes this trip even worse is your personal feeling of falling behind, and our culture has made it seem like the process of a wandering mind is a one way ticket to failure.
But don’t worry, research has shown that not all daydreaming is terrible, and it can even help with learning.
How often do we daydream??
When you daydream, you think about old memories, goals or interests, and even unlikely scenarios. Daydreaming can be defined as a trance you experience while awake. A moment that takes your mind away from the current moment in time.
Everyone goes through daydreaming on a daily basis, with a recent study noting that we daydream 30-40 times throughout the day. That may sound a lot, but daydreaming about pleasant things can be beneficial to brain growth.
The natural process of daydreaming
You may assume that a poor mind is a mind that daydreams and can’t concentrate upon the immediate tasks at hand; however, Jerome Singer, a former professor at Pennsylvania State University, hypothesized that daydreaming could be good for all of us. When your mind wanders about loved ones or a pleasant memory, your brain will produce happiness hormones as you purposely engage your mind with meaningful topics.
In another study, researchers found that the same part of the brain that’s stimulated by daydreaming is the same part used for high levels of mental activity. Like lifting weights helps build muscles, daydreaming is a great way to build part of the mind necessary for cognitive activities. The results from this study also suggest that those who naturally daydream will best develop the skills needed to be effective learners. Far from having a negative impact, daydreaming is the key to a happy and healthy mind.
The benefits of daydreaming
1. Easier to Achieve Goals
Imagining your future plan can be pleasing to the mind. It lets you think through strategies and steps you’ll need to take and how to deal with different situations. Just like an athlete daydreaming about the game plan before a competition, daydreaming is like training yourself for an outcome you desire mentally rather than physically.
2. Improved Problem Solving
Daydreaming tends to solve a problem rather than forcing a solution. In a study at UC Berkeley, researchers found that a wandering mind is beneficial for creating new ideas as the part of the brain responsible for solving complex problems becomes more active.
3. Build Better Concentration
The ability to concentrate is important both academically and in life. But sometimes, finding a way to focus 100% of the time can be impossible. Your brain needs a break, so consider daydreaming as a power nap for the mind. These brief breaks are necessary for your brain to relax and regain control before going back to study another study session.
4. Lower Stress Level and Anxiety
Good brain health requires moments of relaxation. After a long day of school, allow your mind to daydream about happy scenarios. This can help with distancing yourself from a stressful event or a bad day.
Daydreaming has had a bad reputation for years, but it has given many benefits to students, researchers, and even entrepreneurs. So if you tend to daydream often, embrace it and let your mind roam free. When you find yourself frustrated with a project, family situation, or want to improve your creativity, allow your mind to wander and see what solutions you can conceive.