For instance can it help you to rehearse the changes you want to make in your life? Be a good stress reliever, or simply give you a break from a tedious, monotonous job?
The answer is all those things.
Daydreaming helps you to imagine future events or remember past ones. Most people daydream between 10% and 50% of the day; each daydream lasting just a few minutes.
And the benefits to your relationships? You can use organised daydreaming to help manage conflict. You can revisit that argument and visualise how it might have turned out differently and how you might try something different in the future.
And absence makes the heart grow fonder if couples use day-dreaming to think about each other when they are apart. This is like psychological maintenance. Lovers can day dream about sharing special occasions or planning them.
That can include successes and failures but reviewed in a positive light – as opposed to daydreaming about the rows and arguments that couples in a more negative relationship might dwell on.
So focus on the positive aspects of your relationships. Sweet daydreams!
Updated 12 November 2010: According to a Harvard University study via an iPhone app, people spend half their waking hours daydreaming. More than 2,000 people volunteered to record their thoughts and moods at random times day and night. More than 250,000 events were recorded, some people even responded when they were making love!
The study also looked at how happy people were and it seems that the less happy you are the more likely you are to be distracted. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows what it’s like to be in the zone when time flies because you are so absorbed.
People reported being happy when they were exercising, making love, or having a conversation, and least happy when they were resting, working, or using computers.
The study suggested that people’s minds wandered 30% of the time – even when they were doing demanding tasks.
The results may be skewed because they were all iPhone users who didn’t mind being distracted.
Source: BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11741350
Updated 3 June 2011: Psychologists at NYU found that daydreaming about a happy future and career success can actually work against you!
They found that daydreaming relaxes you and makes you feel less energised which effects your motivation to actually achieve your goals. They think that less positive visualisation which doesn’t gloss over obstacles and problems might actually be more motivating.
However they say that daydreaming could still be helpful in boosting creativity so it’s not all a waste of time.