Description: You have very likely seen, heard or read a multitude of things lately about the state of stress and anxiety these days in general and about YOUR state of stress and anxiety as we head into the Covid winter before the vaccine spring that we hope will be coming along. However, putting stress and anxiety aside for a moment, how is your focus or your attention these days? Have you heard the phrase lockdown brain fog? Are you able to keep your mind on task or does it seem to be wandering more than usual? If so, why might that be? Also, if your mind does seem to be wandering a bit, is that a good or a bad thing? Once you have focused on these questions for a bit (come on… FOCUS!), have a look through the article linked below to see what a Psychological researcher has to suggest about these things.
Source: Our minds may be wandering more during the pandemic – and this can be a good thing, Jennifer Windt, The Conversation and The Independent.
Date: December 6, 2020
Article Link: https://theconversation.com/our-minds-may-be-wandering-more-during-the-pandemic-and-this-can-be-a-good-thing-145764 or with a lot of ads at https://www.independent.co.uk/health_and_wellbeing/mind-wandering-more-lockdown-coronavirus-sleep-anxiety-b1589762.html
So, did you even think that making sense of where our mental focus is at these days could involve a consideration of dreaming? Well, it IS the same brain after all. Knowing a bit about our typical sleep patterns, particularly in relation to REM sleep and what may happen when we sleep a bit more than usual for a while or when anxiety and stress (so yes, they are still in the picture here) lead to rumination can explain why we seem to be dreaming more these days. The good news is that there do seem to be some potential advantages to a b it of mind wandering or daydreaming as they involve an openness to thoughts and ideas in the same ways that lead to and support creativity. So, perhaps we can out aside some of our concerns and anxieties and, at least a little bit, enjoy some mind wandering generated creative thinking.
Questions for Discussion:
- Why might we (seem to) be dreaming more during this time of pandemic restrictions?
- How might mind wandering and daydreaming (and even pain old night dreaming) be related to creativity?
- What are some ways in which you might take advantage of Covid related reductions in mental focus over the next few weeks?
References (Read Further):
Boykoff, N., Moieni, M., & Subramanian, S. K. (2009). Confronting chemobrain: an in-depth look at survivors’ reports of impact on work, social networks, and health care response. Journal of cancer survivorship, 3(4), 223. Link
Neilson, Tore (2020) The Covid-19 Pandemic is Changing Our Dreams, Scientific American, Link
Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2015). The science of mind wandering: empirically navigating the stream of consciousness. Annual review of psychology, 66, 487-518. Link
Wegner, D. M. (1997). Why the mind wanders. Scientific approaches to consciousness, 295-315. Link
Baird, B., Mota-Rolim, S. A., & Dresler, M. (2019). The cognitive neuroscience of lucid dreaming. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 100, 305-323. Link
Wright, K. P., Linton, S. K., Withrow, D., Casiraghi, L., Lanza, S. M., de la Iglesia, H., … & Depner, C. M. (2020). Sleep in University Students Prior to and During COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders. Current Biology. Link
Christoff, K., Irving, Z. C., Fox, K. C., Spreng, R. N., & Andrews-Hanna, J. R. (2016). Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: a dynamic framework. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17(11), 718-731. Link
Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2016). Mind wandering minimizes mind numbing: Reducing semantic-satiation effects through absorptive lapses of attention. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 23(4), 1273-1279. Link
Revonsuo, A., Tuominen, J., & Valli, K. (2015). The avatars in the machine: Dreaming as a simulation of social reality. Open MIND. Frankfurt am Main: MIND Group. Link