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Should Daydreaming Be Mandatory?

By Anna Dehnke
16 Nov 2015

In today’s world we are constantly pushed to “stay busy” and be as productive and involved as possible.  With this mindset, it is often difficult to find time to slow down and let our minds rest from the intensive thinking our lives require.  Because of the hectic lifestyles many people live, unstable mental health is becoming more prevalent.  A practice that some doctors advocate is letting our minds “rest” and allow ourselves to daydream, which could arguably improve mental health.  Daydreaming has become something with a negative connotation because of its requirement of slowing down and simply letting our minds wander, but it has been proven to be good for mental health.  As a busy student on DePauw’s campus, it is interesting to consider whether finding time to daydream would be beneficial for students’ overall health and whether this practice would inhibit our ability to perform to the best of our ability in the classroom.  It may be argued that the amount of work assigned by employers, teachers and professors may be ethically impermissible and inhibit students and employees from having healthy mental states.

The debate about whether daydreaming promotes a healthy brain is discussed in Claudia Hammond’s recent article from BBC News in which Hammond advocates for daydreaming and argues that it can improve memory. By allowing our minds to process past, present and even future information, we promote a better-organized thought process and memory interpretation.  This ability to process memories and think about the future in a quiet and relaxed space could potentially be very beneficial for mental health.  The researchers from these studies would argue that our society and schools are putting too much pressure on employees and students to be constantly busy.  Many students and workers find themselves overwhelmed with the amount of work that is presented in their lives and cannot find time to relax and let their minds “rest”.

The students, workers and employers, along with others arguing against the benefits of daydreaming, may argue that daydreaming is useless and the time spent resting one’s brain could be used to be productive in other facets of their lives.  Because of the pressure of today’s society to be constantly active and busy, many people have been trained to equate downtime with laziness.  Students would argue that schoolwork should be done in this downtime in order to achieve the highest potential.  Teachers and professors are arguably assigning too much work which may actually be promoting unhealthy habits, creating unstable mental health.  It is difficult to determine whether daydreaming, schoolwork or work-related assignments should be a priority in the lives of people today.  Should it be ethically obligatory to allow employees and students to have down time to relax their minds, decompress, and “daydream”.

Some may argue that daydreaming makes a person lazy and prevents other productive work from getting completed.  Others may argue that daydreaming provides a space for a mind to constructively decompress.  Which is more important: relaxing the mind or completing the most tasks or assignments as possible?


Anna graduated from DePauw University in 2016 with a major in Biology and a minor in Spanish. With a passion for working with animals, specifically horses, she is pursuing a career in animal welfare.
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