Coping with Maladaptive Daydreaming


Five Ways to Improve Control of Maladaptive Daydreaming

Like any addiction, Maladaptive Daydreaming can be hard to control. However, each person is different, and there isn’t a singular solution for everyone. From the experience of the individuals with MD and the early research results, we can list five steps that may help gain better control of MD.


1. Address underlying issues

MD can be a form of self-medication for other underlying problems such as: anxiety, depression, loneliness, or bad memories. Reducing the overuse of MD as self-medication can be achieved by focusing on improving your quality of life. It can be beneficial to find a sense of purpose or find gratifying experiences to add meaning in your real life. There are also often limits that we impose on ourselves. Adjusting our habits and extending beyond our self-imposed limits can awaken the desire to live an improved life.

It may be helpful to seek therapy for the issues that motivate you to dissociate into your fantasy life and to address any underlying emotional pain. Mental health professionals are able listen to you impartially and help you develop coping skills to manage your stress and mental health. It is your decision whether or not to speak about your MD, but many report that it can be a relief to open up about their experiences. Many mental health professionals are still unfamiliar with MD, but feel free to refer them to the International Consortium on Maladaptive Daydreaming Research website. Most of the published research on MD is presented on their Publications page. You can also tell them that you recognize many of the symptoms listed on the website.


2.  Refocus your attention


Most people with MD underestimate the time they spend in fantasy and are unaware of their daydreaming habits and patterns. Daily monitoring of the time and circumstances of your daydreaming can help you increase awareness and accountability for this mental behavior. Research evidence shows that people who keep a record of their daydreaming are more successful in controlling it.


The practice of mindfulness is proven to be an effective method for regaining control of one’s mind and daydreams. Being present in the external world with all your senses and without judgment is incompatible with focusing on your daydreaming.

Meditation and Nature

Some people with MD find it helpful to practice other forms of mind-body routines that can help with anchoring, such as yoga. Exercising and walking in nature also help to re-establish contact with your body and, therefore, reality. Evidence shows that nature walks have many beneficial effects on the psyche.

Personal growth

Embarking on a path of personal growth and self-awareness is important. There are many ways to undertake this kind of path, such as taking courses, watching videos dedicated to self-improvement, or reading books on these issues.


3. Avoid triggers

Triggers are unique elements that tend to activate or promote your daydreaming. Many daydreamers report that motion and music are their most powerful triggers. Others triggers include: movies, video games, TV, books, or the internet. Boredom and loneliness are also typically associated with daydreaming.

If you are familiar with your activating triggers, you can plan to limit your exposure to them or even to avoid these stimuli completely.

It is best to avoid “planning the fantasy,” like searching the internet for things that are needed in your daydreams (e.g. a dress to wear to a party), or to seek solitude to avoid being disturbed while you daydream.

4. Connect with other maladaptive daydreamers

Thanks to the internet, getting in touch with other people with the same disorder is easier now, even while maintaining privacy.

Support networks are important. A network of relationships, even if virtual, can sometimes act as a lifesaver. Sharing and comparing problems, reflections, and solutions with other maladaptive daydreamers can give a clearer and more objective vision of the disorder. One study has found that people using online community support during lockdown had less difficulty dealing with MD. Furthermore, interacting with others is incompatible with escaping into your daydreaming.


5. Take your life into your own hands:  Stay active. Plan.  Don’t procrastinate.

Remember, you have a real life to live that is full of hopes, aspirations, and obligations. Focus on staying active in real life, carrying out your duties, and cultivating a social life without giving in to the temptation to procrastinate. Having a daily list of things to do and people to meet will help you stay connected to real life and avoid drifting into daydreams.

Socializing, volunteering, and promoting your values and interests.

It is very difficult to get lost in fantasy around other people. A satisfying social life can be a valuable coping aid in MD. Being an active part of a community, volunteering, or participating in groups and meetings whose social, political, religious, or cultural values ​​you share can help you not only to establish new relationships but also to feel a sense of usefulness and gratification. Try to get involved in an activity that encourages you to leave the house at least once a week. We understand the catch here; many people with MD, by nature, tend to avoid contact with others. Some are introverted; others are socially anxious. Often MD arises precisely from social isolation.