The Benefits of Daydreaming for Mental Health

Oftentimes in our addiction we are told “Get your head out of the clouds.” While in addiction that may be good advice, when in recovery having your head in the clouds might be just what you need.  

Daydreaming helps to reset our minds. It improves our cognitive function and problem-solving. Additional benefits of daydreaming include things like:

  • Reprieve from stressful situations
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Helps us reach our goals
  • Allows our brains to process feelings, events, and problems that need a solution

 Elizabeth Cox presented on Ted-Ed about the benefits of daydreaming. She states that “…where mind-wandering really gets interesting is when it crosses into the realm of free-moving associative thoughts that you aren’t consciously directing. This kind of mind-wandering is associated with increases in both ideas and positive emotions, and the evidence suggests that daydreaming can help people envision ways to reach their goals and navigate relationships and social situations.

Benefits of Daydream from Elizabeth Cox

Unfortunately, many of us are too engaged with our phones or keep a packed schedule playing catchup for the time lost in addiction to spend time being still. Even “mindless scrolling” on social media activates the brain and does not provide the rest your mind needs.

Thinker Moments

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a mental health expert and in her Cleaning Up the Mental Mess podcast she shares how daydreaming can improve your mental health and cognitive flexibility. She also shares in her blog…that you can be intentional about turning these “time-travel daydreaming moments” into what I call “thinker moments” – periods of time when you let your mind switch off to the external, switch onto the internal and just wander and daydream.” Dr. Leaf points out that not only is daydreaming providing us the opportunity to have these “thinker moments” in our lives but by neglecting them we could also be harming ourselves as well. She states that if you don’t take regular thinker moments…giving the mind a rest and letting it daydream it can reduce blood flow by up to 80 percent in the front of the brain. This can dramatically affect cognitive fluency and the efficient, associative thinking required at home, school or in the workplace. She concludes that this can event lead to unprocessed thoughts and nightmares, affecting your overall quality of sleep, performance and mental health.

Two Minutes to Improve Your Mental Health

Are you ready to get better at problem-solving and improve your mental health? Anyone can do this. All you need is two minutes.

Aha moments can show up in mundane tasks
  1. Step away from distractions if you can.
  2. Take some breaths in and out. 
  3. Close your eyes if that is comfortable for you.
  4. You can let your mind take you to where it wants to go, or you can start with your favorite image that brings you peace. You could picture your next goal, amends that need to be made, or a problem that needs to be solved. Let your mind go with no expectations. 
Daydreaming can bring new ideas and help with problem soling

You may not get all of your answers within your daydream session, but you will activate your brain to continue processing while you go through the rest of your day or week. Happy daydreaming!

Listen to Dr. Leaf’s podcast below.

Organizations such as Field of Hope and Gallia-Jackson-Meigs ADAMH Board work to try to help those who are lost in addiction and unsure where to go or who to turn to. At Field of Hope, we understand that there can be many obstacles when rebuilding a new life in recovery. You will not do this alone. We provide services for drug, alcohol, and gambling addiction recovery and mental health care. Caring staff will walk alongside you to help you put the pieces together from start to finish. Call us today at (740) 245-3051

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