Reducing Anxiety and Increasing Happiness: Not A Daydream

It’s pleasant to think that daydreaming, the time we spend musing or fantasizing while we are awake, makes us happier people. Then researchers come along and poke a hole in that theory.

It was discovered at Harvard University that those who daydream about enjoyable situations or ideas do not increase their personal happiness quotient by doing so. Although their daydreams stirred positive thoughts and feelings, the dreamers were no happier after a daydream than before having one.

What about negative daydreamers, sometimes known as worriers? The participants in the study who daydreamed about negative things experienced a reduction of happiness within 15 minutes of ending each daydream.

Worry Daydreams

Worrying is a type of daydream. Worry may have elements of fact, but the facts are played out in the mind as a fantasy. These fantasies usually end in frustration, anger, or loss that fills the daydreamer with anxiety or dread.

Daydream’s effect is not just immediate. Afterward, even if our mind has returned to the day’s business, worry daydreams can deplete our overall sense of well-being and happiness.

Amazingly, the human mind spends up to 70 percent of daytime hours wandering in some form of daydream. We are typically busy with something else while our mind is day-tripping. We might be baking brownies, walking the dog, listening to music, mowing the lawn, or sitting in a department meeting.

If you are prone to worry daydreams, you may be spending half of your day or more stirring up your body’s stress hormones and depleting your reserves of happiness. It would be worth it if worry provided control over circumstances, but we know that is a fantasy as well.

The Mindful Alternative

The research that was done on daydreaming uncovered something else: People who experience happiness the most are those who stay focused in the present moment, on whatever it is they are doing. They live their lives more mindfully.

Apparently, people who practice mindfulness or another type of meditation rewire their gray matter. They acquire the ability to switch off the parts of the brain that are necessary for daydreaming and become mental masters of their thoughts, whether mowing the lawn or formally meditating.

Without meditative practice, our brain naturally drifts to thoughts related to the self including our wants, well-being, and safety. We may turn these thoughts into pleasurable fantasies or into worry.

The Perks of Being Present

As mentioned, living more in the moment can increase your level of happiness. It also gives us objectivity over our thoughts and emotions, helping us realize that they come and go and are not a reliable foundation for belief. Being attentive to what we are doing quiets the mind and allows us to notice our inklings, instincts, and intuitions.

If you have an anxiety disorder and entertain worrying thoughts, living more mindfully may be your best option for maintaining peace of mind and heart. It is not an ideology or a religion, just a self-respectful way of life.

Source: Yale News

Photo: Pixabay

Anxiety Support Groups

Latest Post by digby Tue, 11/12/2019 - 5:48pm
Comments: 1
Latest Post by digby Tue, 11/12/2019 - 5:49pm
Comments: 2
Latest Post by MillieM Mon, 11/04/2019 - 3:23pm
Comments: 1
Latest Post by MillieM Mon, 11/04/2019 - 2:58pm
Comments: 2

More Articles

There’s no sure way of preventing generalized anxiety disorder, but there are certain steps you can take to keep your anxiety disorder from...

People with an excess of MeCP2 protein experience anxiety and a range of other behavioral issues, but Baylor College of Medicine scientists have...

This article is Part II of a two-part article....

When you struggle to fall asleep night after night due to severe anxiety, you may find your symptoms getting worse; lack of sleep is one of the...

Anxiety control or fear of losing control may happen during a panic attack you might think you were having a heart attack or some other...

More Articles

The neurotransmitter serotonin has long been implicated in mood and other psychiatric disorders, and people looking to improve their mental health...

Having an anxiety disorder can seriously debilitate your quality of life. If you’re suffering from anxiety, you know that it can affect your...

Controlling stress and anxiety could lead to a reduction in the number of hot or cold flashes. Hot flashes also include sweaty palms. The more...

Although best known for treating major depressive disorder, Cymbalta (generic name: duloxetine) is also a proven and effective treatment for...

Anxiety disorders are complex, influenced by a number of chemical, behavioral, and situational factors. There are several neurotransmitters in the...

Royce White has never been one to let obstacles get in the way of his dreams. An inspiring young man and stellar athlete, White was drafted by the...

The adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, produce a variety of essential hormones. When these glands don't produce enough of one or more of...

We all know that bullying and other stressful social situations can have lasting effects on a person, but a new study from New York’s Rockefeller...

What is stress?

Stress is sometimes used to describe challenges or threats, like, “Kelly was under a lot of stress”, or other times to...

Part of going to school is taking tests, and you may be one of many students that experience intense test anxiety. This performance anxiety comes...

Getting on an airplane can cause an anxiety attack even for the most seasoned flier. Whether it’s a fear of heights, the feeling of the unknown,...

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic, excessive worry. People with GAD feel exaggerated anxiety...

A study from Deakin University that looked at 3,000 Australian adolescents has revealed that mental health in adolescents over time could be...

Advil is one of several marketing brand names for the widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) commonly known as ibuprofen.

...

Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to have a number of potential health benefits, from possible anti-cancer effects to improved cardiovascular health...