How often have you caught your mind wandering at work or while doing chores and chided yourself to snap out of it? In general, we tend to view daydreaming as an unproductive activity because it takes our attention away from the task at hand. However, if you look at daydreaming as a form of creative visualization, you can shift your mindset to use it as a stress-relief technique.
Some mental health experts say that daydreaming, when used intentionally, can become a mindfulness exercise. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us now have more reasons to want to protect our mental health and prevent negativity. How can daydreaming about better times help you achieve these goals?
1. It Makes You More Mentally Agile
You might work to keep your body healthy, fit and strong, but have you thought about doing the same thing for your brain? Mental fitness is the idea of training your brain to stay more active and alert. People who set aside time for mental exercises like daydreaming and guided meditation are better at being present in the moment. They also improve their memory and have reduced stress levels.
2. It’s Relaxing
You can often achieve a sense of calm by closing your eyes and picturing yourself in beautiful, relaxing surroundings. For example, perhaps you have a favorite beach or mountain getaway you haven’t been able to visit due to the pandemic. Envisioning yourself going there can help release tension from your body and mind, leaving you feeling free.
3. It Gives You a Sense of Optimism
One unexpected benefit of this pandemic has been more free time to slow down and turn your attention inward. Daydreaming lets your mind wander freely, while you forget about reality for a short period. A daily, mindful daydreaming practice can help you feel more grounded when you are experiencing anxiety or emotional instability.
4. It Helps You Maintain Relationships
Another positive effect of daydreaming is that it can help strengthen your connections with others. Due to the pandemic, you likely have friends or relatives you haven’t been able to see for several months. Picturing yourself spending time with them can help maintain your closeness. You can imagine what you’ll do together when everyone has received their COVID-19 vaccine and it’s once again safe to do things like eating in restaurants, going to concerts and plays and traveling cross-country. While daydreaming isn’t a substitute for spending time with loved ones face to face, it can help you remember them with love and keep them in your thoughts, rather than letting the relationship atrophy.
5. It Sparks Creativity
Envisioning how you’d react in various scenarios can make you a more creative person by improving your ability to think on the fly. For instance, if you’re working toward a promotion at work, visualize yourself completing all the goals it would take for you to get there. Or, if you’re hoping to improve a relationship with a loved one, a daydream where you walk through an important conversation with them can make it seem more manageable.
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