Daydreaming Could Land You in the Emergency Room, Says Science

Daydreaming is demonstrably more dangerous while completing dangerous tasks, go figure.


It’s an easy activity to slide into: Maybe you just hit that 2 p.m. exhaustion wall, maybe you just have this creeping suspicion that you’ll be called into work on Saturday, maybe you are just plain fed up with the monotony of that stack of reports sitting in your “To-Do” pile. You take a sabbatical in the comfort of your chair, mind wandering to foreign shores and—oh no, you just spilled scalding hot coffee on yourself.

Your 6th grade English teacher always said you were going to get burned because of your head-in-clouds ways, but you didn’t think she meant literally. But if this, or some way less specific version of this event has happened to you, you are just one in a crowd. As it turns out, a whole lot of people get injured each year thanks to daydreaming, according to the Atlantic.

Steve Casner, author of Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds, estimates that almost half of our time in any given day is dedicated to daydreaming. In 2014 alone, one in 16 Americans (close to 23 million people) went to the emergency room due to home-related injuries. The primary cause of these accidents? A wandering mind.

Daydreaming is more frequent when someone is distressed, according to a study titled A Wandering Mind Is An Unhappy Mind (you can probably guess what the abstract of the study is). The mind goes to its proverbial happy place in order to tune out the surrounding environment which is causing it stress. According to the same study, the most frequent activity which leads to daydreaming is personal grooming (65 percent of the time) and the least frequent is sex (10 percent of the time).

According to a study published in Psychology and Aging, day dreamers tend to skew young, as people ages 18 to 25 are exponentially more likely than people ages 60 to 85 to have thoughts unrelated to their current task. 

According to Peter Delaney (via National Geographic), a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, daydreaming will frequently pull you entirely out of the task at hand, leading you to forget entirely what you were doing.

Daydreams aren’t a waste of time, but if you’re operating heavy machinery, it’s probably better to focus on the forklift. What do your daydreams reveal about you?

[Source: The Atlantic]

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