We’ve all been there, when we’re in a world of our own, recalling a dream that we had or running hypothetical scenarios in our head, and suddenly the person we’re with pulls us back out of our heads and into reality. Daydreaming and reminiscing about dreams we’ve had is a perfectly normal thing to experience, however if you notice it becoming more frequent it can start to impact on your daily life and how effectively you interact and build relationships with others.
As with a lot of symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. The stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline are released and this puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze.
Why Can Anxiety Make Me Daydream More?
When we’re struggling with anxiety, we often experience physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, strained muscles, hyperstimulation and low blood sugar, and as such, the body can feel massively fatigued. When our brain recognises that we’re fatigued it reduces our brain wave activity and when we daydream it’s at a lower operational level called the Theta range. We also experience this range when we’re in REM sleep, our dreaming stage of sleep, and when we’re highly relaxed, when we’re meditating for instance.
Now, this isn’t exactly a bad thing – a lot of the time our daydreams can be quite pleasant and escapist – but if they’re happening frequently, it takes us out of experiencing life in the present, something that has been linked to improved mental health. It’s also a considerable sign that our body needs to rest, so that our brain waves can get back into the alpha, beta and gamma ranges and operate at an optimal level.
How Can I Stop This Symptom?
In order to combat the parts of this symptom that stem from our fight, flight or freeze response, the main thing that we can do to combat it is to focus on our breathing and allow yourself to anchor yourself in the present moment. This should calm our central nervous system, and deactivate our fight, flight or freeze response allowing our system to become less fatigued. Overall, this symptom signifies that the body needs rest so perhaps try and get some sleep or take it easy.
However, with prolonged low moods, you need to consider managing or building strategies to tackle your anxiety. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.