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Health & Balance

Why Does Daydreaming Get Such a Bad Rap?

Daydreaming is seen as frivolous, a waste of time. But have you considered daydreaming's positive effects?
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Boost productivity. "Often I find that allowing myself a few minutes for daydreaming can help me to be more productive in the long run," says Cari Noga, a freelance writer in Traverse City, Mich. "For example, just the other day I had a lot to do around the house: laundry, dishes, cleaning, bathroom scrubbing. I tried throwing myself into the work, but I found myself getting distracted. So I sat on the couch and allowed myself 15 minutes of daydream time. I let my mind wander, and instead of thinking about things I had to do, I imagined things, places, people. When my 15 minutes were up, I was in a much better mood, my mind was clearer, and I really had the urge to get things done. And my house got cleaned!"

Cement your beliefs and values. When you daydream about scenarios in which you're trying to convince someone of something you believe in strongly, you are also in a sense getting to know yourself and what you stand for better.

Boost creativity and achieve goals. The beauty of daydreams is that nothing is impossible. "I used to daydream about seeing my book in print," says Jen Singer, author of 14 Hours 'Til Bedtime: A Stay-at-Home Mom's Life in 27 Funny Little Stories. "And now it is. I find that when I aim high while daydreaming, I end up working harder to make my dreams become realities. Lately I've been daydreaming about being on The Today Show or Ellen."

Olympic athletes and performers use this same kind of visualization, which has been shown to help their performance in the way that actual physical practice does.

Relieve boredom. People with monotonous jobs, like factory workers and security guards, often use daydreaming to keep their minds stimulated and to get them through the day.

All this is not to say that there aren't potential negatives to daydreaming. Obsessive thinking, for example, can interfere with day-to-day functioning in some cases. Likewise, lonely people can further isolate themselves if they spend a too much time ruminating about the past.

In general, though, we should nix the negative stereotypes and become, in the words of The Monkees, "daydream believers."

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Reviewed on June 01, 2006

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