Are you prone to daydreaming during work, while relaxing and watching television or even while sitting in traffic? It turns out that a lot of us are engaging in this practice. According to experts, we tend to daydream for between one-third and one-half of the hours in which we are awake. Each individual daydream only occurs for a period of a couple minutes. Eighty percent of respondents to a University of Minnesota survey would prefer to disclose a humiliating event in their lives rather than expose what they daydream about. But since so many of us engage in the practice, we should embrace it for its health benefits rather than be embarrassed or think it’s silly. Check out how daydreaming affects the brain and five reasons why it’s good for us.
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1. Your working memory becomes stronger
Picturing yourself on a sunny beach while sending an email is actually good for your brain – specifically, your working memory. Daydreamers have a stronger working memory, also called short-term memory, which means even when distracted, daydreamers’ brains have a better ability to remember things. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science and the University of Wisconsin discovered this little fact.
2. Your creativity is heightened
Do you daydream because you’re creative, or are you more creative because you daydream? The answer, it seems, is that both are most likely correct.
The brain has something called a default network that houses your dreams and imagination. This part of the brain is active when you daydream, which makes you more creative during waking hours because you are more open to possibility – whether it’s a new idea that helps you succeed at the office, or even just being more open to your physical environment.
3. Your problems are solved
Stumped on a work problem and think there’s no solution in sight? Daydreaming can help. According to researchers at the University of British Columbia, the problem-solving area of the brain functions during a daydream. This part of the brain is called the executive network.
4. You become relaxed
It’s difficult to even take a proper vacation in today’s modern 24/7 work culture. How do you really relax when you can bring your iPhone onto the beach and your laptop into your hotel room? But, taking the time to engage in a daydream when you are simply sitting and seemingly doing nothing – much like the practice of meditation – can be highly relaxing. Think of a daydream as a break for your mind and body instead of something frivolous.
5. It's inevitable
If you find yourself daydreaming despite your best intentions, don’t fight it. Researchers at Harvard University discovered that our brains have a natural tendency to daydream, specifically for 46.9 percent of our waking hours which is almost half the time we are awake.
Daydreaming is a natural part of life, and a natural part of your brain’s cognitive processes. The process makes you more creative and relaxed, helps solve problems, and even boosts your short-term memory. So, as long as you still get your work done, of course, don’t fear the daydream. It makes your brain healthier than you think.