Daydreaming shields mind from reality

By Asma Alkrizy, Opinion Editor

Allowing my thoughts to wander off into a pleasant journey of reveries has enabled me to explore my creativity and future goals and dreams.

But unconsciously, it has gradually made me lose touch with the real world.

Daydreaming and fantasizing are defensive mechanisms individuals often use to satisfy their desires or escape unwanted emotions. But when it becomes compulsive, it can affect their personal goals and relationships.

Ultimately, it can develop into a psychiatric disorder called maladaptive daydreaming, where your daydreaming gets out of control.

In this case, the individual has difficulty controlling fantasies or repetitive thoughts triggered by internal or external stimuli such as books, songs, shows or ads.

While maladaptive daydreaming occurs from extensive fantasizing or daydreaming, it is important to understand fantasizing and daydreaming are different.

Daydreaming is a mind wandering process that occurs when your mind drifts into a series of pleasant or pensive thoughts before being snapped off.

Fantasizing is similar in the mind wandering process, but the mind concocts fantasies about futuristic goals and dreams that almost seem impossible to happen in real life.

While daydreaming about your future goals and dreams can be motivating and amplifies your creativity, if stuck in it for long, things can go wrong.

In addition, a marketing research study by Elsevier, Inc. revealed that extensive daydreaming resulted in less satisfaction and happiness in a relationship.

The study also manifested that having repetitive thoughts about past relationships or potential partners made the couple unhappy and lonelier, producing a negative impact on their overall satisfaction.

A downturn of maladaptive daydreaming is over-overthinking about something that isn’t actually there.

I almost fell victim to maladaptive daydreaming in high school before I realized I had to set limits to my fantasies.

When my parents encouraged me to attend an online school to evade the high school drama, I spent most of the days at home.

I resorted to concocting stories based off shows, movies, and books I read and began imagining myself interacting with the characters.

Fantasizing became my favorite pastime in ninth grade.

I’d pace the room back and forth thinking about being in the hunger games with my siblings and friends, and ponder over the best strategy that would lead me to win in the arena.

I remember imagining myself a dauntless girl who concealed her face with the hijab and went to save a friend who a group of bandits had kidnapped.

Even though I’m not that skilled at fighting, I held a prowess in the martial arts in my imaginary world and whacked the bandits off with my Jackie Chan moves.

I realized I was spending hours fantasizing about something that never really happened.

Recognizing my lack of sleep and loss of concentration due to overthinking, I researched my condition, and landed on maladaptive daydreaming.

Setting inner limits is the best way of controlling one’s consciousness.

So every time my mind wandered off, I conditioned myself to return to reality by reminding myself those thoughts were just make-believe.