Let your mind wander for brain health

By Kelly Jirsa

Let your mind wander for brain health

Taking time out in your mind to escape the present, could do you a whole lot of good.

Wandering minds

Research shows that our minds wander at a consistent rate 30 and 50% of the time. In a sampling of 2250 people the data showed that daydreaming occurred across 22 daily activities, with the exception of sex, “where the rate of daydreaming was considerably lower”, Giulia Poerio, University of Sheffield and Felicity Callard, Durham University reported.

It was thought for a time that daydreaming was “detrimental for personal happiness” as negative moods were linked to ruminating and self-focused thought. Despite the negative assumptions or judgement associated with daydreaming, with a study in 2010 suggesting “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind”, the benefits are becoming clearer as newer study results emerge.

Better thoughts through content control

Daydreaming is linked to “greater creativity, the ability to delay gratification, problem-solving, and future planning.” When asked to imagine four positive events happening in the immediate future, participants in a study reported overall increased levels of happiness.

Another study where participants were asked to daydream about loved ones found their feelings of loneliness dissipate and improvement in feelings of social connection.

But beware of what thoughts you get lost in…

“A busy mind full with thoughts of tomorrows tasks probably won’t be conducive to a restful night’s sleep. But conjuring nostalgic childhood memories to mentally transport you from a noisy commute might be just the ticket for rest and relaxation.”

Giulia Poerio, University of Sheffield and Felicity Callard, Durham University.

Daydreaming could be the active rest you need right now, but be sure to keep your thoughts pleasant to get the most out of this very human skill.

 

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