Time management is a lot of work. We're very hard on ourselves when it comes to wringing productivity out of every available moment, even when we're off the clock. If you've got a spare moment, you're probably enriching yourself with a podcast or planning a trip to the grocery store or organizing a get-together you need for your mental health.
What if we got back in the habit of daydreaming? One new study from the University of Florida argues that we've lost the knack of it, to our detriment — but luckily, with practice, we can get it back. If you have fond memories of zoning out in a sunbeam thinking about a crush or a book or an adventure you'd like to have, you might know this instinctually. If life feels like it just doesn't have time or room for such fripperies, that's just capitalism talking.
"What we feel is a function of what we think," said study author Erin Westgate. "Thinking for pleasure can be a powerful tool to shape our emotions." Even if the process can feel cognitively demanding ("You have to be the actor, director, screenwriter and audience of a mental performance," Westgate says), it's worth it for improved moods, better relaxation, and lowered stress.
It might take some practice, getting back in the habit of thinking for no reason. As long as the thoughts are pleasant and meaningful, Westgate advises, that's a great start. We all need hobbies to keep ourselves from burning out. There's nothing less expensive and more portable than privately dreaming as you go about your day.