Do you remember a time during school or work when you were actually allowed
to daydream? More than likely, the answer is no. Our teachers and bosses are always demanding constant attention, and they claim that paying attention helps keep you productive. New studies, however, are showing that daydreaming is an important part of our mental health for a variety of reasons.
Take a look at what happens when you daydream. You think about the past, present, and future, as well as experiences and memories that you have. You may even get a little goofy and think of seemingly outlandish things. Through this introspection, however, you can remember and reflect on things that have happened in the past, or perhaps think about our goals or dreams
and develop a loose plan that can help you achieve them.
Daydreaming can best be thought of as a way to buffer the constant bombardment of stimulation and feedback from the outside environment. By taking a short while to reflect, you can gather your thoughts better, retain information easier and regain composure before the next round of stress.
According to Southern California education professor Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, who co-wrote an article on the subject that is to be published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science
, our brains have two different systems: a "looking out system" that directs our attention to everything around us such as teachers, bosses, or friends, and a "looking in system" that allows us to daydream.
Immordino-Yang claims that when we are able to relax
, our brains are actually working harder on introspection. To solidify this claim, human test subjects were asked to relax, and had their brain waves scanned. Because the subjects were basically freed from being obligated to give a hoot about their surroundings, they began thinking more. When we take a moment of silence, or you are laying down before sleep, how often has your mind drifted into all kinds of thoughts? This is our body sorting out our feelings, recent experiences, and information.
According to Immordino-Yang, today's younger generation faces tougher obstacles when it comes to daydreaming. Teachers and parents are demanding students and kids to pay attention constantly, and if that's not enough, we live in a connected world
where the thoughts of family, friends and your own self can instantly be shared across social media platforms. This constant connectivity can really hinder our ability to take a moment to just chill out and focus on our inner thoughts, and if our ability to daydream dwindles, so will our capacity for learning and knowledge. After all, if we can't buffer the deluge of information that's now at our fingertips, how long until we can't learn anymore?
Murphy Paul, Annie. "Why Daydreaming Isn't a Waste of Time." KQED.org
. N.p., 1 June 2012. Web. 26 June 2012. <http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/06/why-daydreaming-isnt-a-waste-of-time/>.