How many of us have been so caught up in a vicious cycle of day dreaming that we put a halt to crucial work? Chances are innumerable, right? How about spending countless hours in headspace doing nothing but fantasizing?
Exhilarating, yet distressing, isn't it? If you find the sentiment shared above in your day-today schedule, besides feeling guilty for wasting your precious time, then, most likely you are into something called maladaptive daydreaming.
Maladaptive daydreaming, as coined by Dr. Eli Somer, is where an individual gets chronically trapped in a vicious cycle of daydreaming and, as a result, consciously withdraws from day-to-day social interaction or work-related activities. Unlike occasional daydreaming, it tends to be intense with a complex narrative and storyline.
Although, this unusual, yet persistent, cycle may liberate one from a tedious, obsolete and mundane schedule, it may, however, invite counterproductive effects in life.
The most common side effect of this disorder is procrastination.
Constantly drowning in a sea of thoughts will inevitably take away a large sum of time, causing one to delay the regular execution of one's daily tasks, leading to low performance and failure.
During the period of global uncertainty, where people are made to stay at home, it is almost certain that mental health issues like this have flared up amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As people have limited mobility, they are likely to adapt to this disorder as a strategy to cope with boredom or loneliness.
Reports have closely linked cognitive functions with proper sleep hygiene. So the next synonymous effect of this relentless pattern is poor sleep, and as a consequence, one may fall prey to a common sleep disorder - insomnia. That being said, it acts as a detrimental distraction and obliterates the overall circadian cycle.
Oftentimes, real life events trigger this condition, particularly in people with a severe history of trauma, stress and other behavioural disorders. For individuals with this condition, it works as a conduit–a portal to escape from a harsh cycle of reality.
In recent years, a handful of theories have been proposed and compiled to determine its root cause and severity. It has been regarded as a form of coping mechanism –a complex narrative designed by the brain to cope with unbearable pain caused by trauma.
However, recent research claims maladaptive daydreaming to be an indicator of creativity.
It is considered as the most common factor for stirring up an element of imagination through which one effortlessly taps into the realms of creativity, whether it be creative writing or storytelling.
A version of this article appears in the print on May 10, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.