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Why it’s OK: Daydreaming is an important mental state where we unconsciously turn our attention away from immediate tasks to sort through important problems in our lives, according to a study in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," Not only does it help us work through issues, it encourages creative thinking.

When to indulge: Since daydreaming can sap attention from what we’re doing, researchers recommend letting your mind wander daily during simple, solitary activities that don’t require much brainpower. Some of your best ideas may come to you if you let your imagination take hold while showering, going for a walk or cleaning the house.

Don’t overdo it: Researchers at Harvard found that people are generally less content when they allow their mind to wander, instead of being in the present, because we tend to ruminate about negative, rather than positive, things. If you feel stressed, says Harvard mindfulness expert Ellen Langer, Ph.D., “It’s usually because you’re anticipating a negative event that may not happen. If it does, it might turn out not to be so negative after all. It may be wise to practice, ‘no worry before it’s time’ and enjoy being in the present.” When daydreaming leads you to focus on something that causes anxiety, that’s a sign that you need to get out of your head and back to the present.

(Credit: Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images)
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