Everyone must have occasionally daydream or fantasize in a conscious state. Usually, it's easy for your mind to wander when you should be paying attention to the work at hand. However, there are some people who daydream or fantasize to deal with everyday life or entertain themselves. This pattern of daydreaming habits (known as maladaptive daydreaming habits/behaviors or maladaptive daydreaming) can prevent them from fully interacting with others and living their lives. If you think you have a maladaptive daydreaming habit, understand the situation first and learn how to deal with it.
Part 1 of 2: Understanding Conditions
Step 1. Determine if the daydreaming pattern shown is maladaptive
Since almost everyone has daydreaming, you might think that frequent, detailed daydreams are normal. However, if you have a maladaptive daydream pattern, you may feel depressed and have difficulty controlling your daydreaming. You may also feel annoyed that the daydream interferes with your life to the point of causing great embarrassment. Also, you may have to try to hide the daydreaming habit.
The term "maladaptive daydreaming" or "maladaptive daydreaming" was coined in 2002, but is still not officially considered a mental disorder and is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Step 2. Consider past violence as the cause of the daydream pattern or habit
People who have a habit of maladaptive daydreaming generally have experienced violence at a young age. What was originally just an imaginative daydream later turned into a complete escape fantasy. The maladaptive nature of daydreaming can affect the individual in his early or preteen years. If you've experienced violence and have to deal with such daydreaming, make sure you get help from a mental health professional.
For example, what starts as a child's daydream can turn into a detailed fantasy after violence or a traumatic experience has happened to someone
Step 3. Recognize the characteristics of maladaptive daydreams
In addition to childhood violence, the presence of certain kinesthetic elements can be another hallmark of maladaptive daydreaming. These elements are often repetitive movements, such as throwing a ball or spinning something with one's hands, that a person performs while daydreaming. Some of the other characteristics, among them, are:
- A strong desire to daydream until it can be compared or considered an addiction.
- Such a complex and detailed daydream pattern.
- Realization of the daydream (physically), but still accompanied by an understanding of the difference between reality and daydream (unlike schizophrenia or psychosis).
- Difficulty in completing daily tasks (eg eating, bathing, sleeping) due to daydreaming.
Step 4. Begin to identify and avoid the triggers
The trigger for the habit can be an event, place, feeling, or thought that makes you start or return to daydreaming maladaptively. Therefore, identify the triggers. You can make notes about moments when you daydream and what happened before. For example, you may notice that when you walk into a certain room, you have certain thoughts that are most enjoyable. Or, it could be that you daydream when you're bored. Always be aware of these triggers and make specific plans to avoid them.
For example, if you're trying to avoid a certain place in your house that triggers maladaptive daydreams, your plan might be something like this: Work in the kitchen, not in the bedroom. Get out of the house and try to go for a walk. Try working in a coffee shop instead of working from home
Part 2 of 2: Dealing with Maladaptive Daydreaming
Step 1. Get enough sleep
There are several things you can do to improve sleep quality. Avoid consuming caffeinated or alcoholic beverages before bed, as these can keep you awake and interfere with sleep. You also need to follow the same sleep schedule by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Also, try following a bedtime routine, such as washing your teeth, taking a shower, and reading a book before bed. Such routines signal to the brain that once these activities are over, you will soon fall asleep.
Several studies have shown that poor sleep quality or not getting enough sleep encourages a person to daydream more often. Poor sleep quality has also been associated with impaired memory, decreased reaction speed, impaired attention, and poor daydreaming
Step 2. Make sure you stay busy throughout the day
Keep your mind busy so you don't have time to daydream. Choose activities that require mental focus, such as reading or doing crossword puzzles. You can also engage in physical and mental activities, such as playing basketball or dancing. Or, you can also engage in social activities, such as enjoying coffee with friends or attending casual events held in town with coworkers.
One theory regarding daydreaming suggests that daydreaming is a self-calming technique used to calm the individual who is daydreaming. If you're daydreaming to calm yourself down, try some other calming or self-care activity, such as cooking, doing yoga, or going out with a friend to get a pedicure
Step 3. Count how often you daydream to reduce the frequency
You may be trying to completely break the habit of daydreaming. Instead of stopping the habit suddenly, observe how often you daydream within a certain duration or time span. After that, remind yourself to reduce the frequency of daydreaming as time goes on. For example, you could set a timer for 3 minutes and note how often you daydream during that time. Repeat the process until the frequency of your daydreams decreases.
- At first, you may not be able to control yourself and the timer will stop in the middle of a daydream. It's okay if you can't control yourself at first. Let the timer interrupt your daydreams until you can finally learn to monitor your own behavior.
- Timing is a good form of self-monitoring because it encourages you to play a role in reducing the frequency of daydreaming. The results of this monitoring can last a long time because it is a behavior modification technique.
Step 4. Keep a journal to keep yourself focused
Although there are not many studies discussing maladaptive daydreaming habits and their treatment, forum users who discuss maladaptive daydreaming patterns report that journaling helps to deal with these habits. Journaling and writing thoughts that come up helps you manage your thoughts and break free from daydreaming. By writing down what you daydream about, you can stop daydreaming and enjoy the moment. Also, try journaling about daydreaming and the effect it can have on you and the role you have in your life.
While research is still needed to show why journaling can help reduce maladaptive daydreaming patterns, at least this activity has been shown to slow down thought processes, allow room for self-discovery, and relieve tension
Step 5. Turn your daydreams into productive ones
Once you've identified the daydreams that arise and what triggers them, begin to notice the effect they have on your feelings. You may find that some daydreams trigger anxiety and feelings of paranoia, while others make you excited and motivated. If you often have the same daydreams and are motivated to do something, try to make the dream or dream come true.
For example, you may often imagine living abroad and working in a different field. What started as a daydream can become a reality if you are willing to take steps to move elsewhere and get a new job
Step 6. Discuss your concerns with the therapist
Because maladaptive daydreaming is not yet officially considered a mental condition or disorder and research into it is still at a very early stage, there is no treatment or treatment recommended for the habit. In fact, many health care providers have never heard of this habit. However, at least you can get help from a therapist or psychiatrist who will help you deal with the condition or situation that triggers the habit.
For example, if you usually daydream whenever you feel stressed or upset, you can work with a therapist to develop strategies for dealing with stress or anger
Step 7. Look for communities that focus on the same problem on the internet
The level of awareness, research, and treatment of maladaptive daydreaming habits is still at an early stage. Therefore, the easiest way to talk about the condition and get tips is to look for websites that are maintained or visited by people with the same condition. Usually people who join or visit these sites are very active in understanding the conditions they face.
Make sure you keep up with the medical developments of research into maladaptive daydreaming patterns. As more research emerges on the subject, new treatments and mechanisms of treatment will begin to develop and become available
- Try to share stories with others about your condition to help solve the problem and make others understand your condition.
- Talk to other people. You are not alone! There are many others out there facing the same problem.