How Brain Dump Journaling Can Change Your Life
If you’re like me, you are constantly in your head. Always thinking, wheels always turning. It can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Having that much going on in my head often causes anxiety and leaves me feeling like I can’t accomplish anything. One of the greatest remedies to this is a brain dump.
What is a Brain Dump?
A brain dump is a form of journaling that involves taking your pen to paper and writing down EVERYTHING that comes into your mind. Literally. Thinking about having a taco for lunch? Write it down. Don’t feel like getting out of bed today? Write that down. How about that running list in your head of the things that make you “not good enough”? Write that down too, let it all out.
To me, brain dumping is a way to get what’s in my head onto paper so that I’m able to focus. I used to consider myself terrible at journaling because I didn’t understand what I was supposed to write down and felt I was “doing it wrong.” But with the brain dump, or stream of consciousness, there is no right or wrong – you just write down anything and everything you think of. And there’s no wrong way to do it. Win win, if you ask me.
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My Favorite Moments to Brain Dump
I find that doing a brain dump helps significantly before bed. Unless you’re like my husband and you fall asleep instantly, you probably lay awake at night with a ‘to do’ list of things for tomorrow or random ideas that you need to jot down. These thoughts and ruminations keep you awake at night. If I take out my journal before bed and write for a good 10 minutes, I find that it’s easier for me to fall asleep and to have a more restful night.
During an Anxiety Attack
For anxiety? Sure, brain dumping can help that too. If I’m feeling anxious or on the verge of a panic attack, I will take a few minutes to write down all that is causing me anxiety in the present moment. What are the (irrational or rational) fears that I’m feeling right now? How does it feel in my body? What is the real reason that I’m feeling this way? Is there some recurring theme that’s causing this anxiety for me? Did I just forget to eat lunch? Lunch? Tacos.
This brief pause to pull myself out of my head and get my thoughts on paper has, time and time again, helped to ease my anxiety and allow me to get on with my day.
For Work Projects
I also use brain dumping in my design work. Following a client phone call, I will jot down anything and everything that I think will relate to their brand, such as what keywords they mentioned during our phone call, and I’ll even doodle ideas that stood out to me. Once I’ve gotten everything on paper, themes start to present themselves and it is much easier for me to find direction with a project. It gives me the clarity I need to see what will work – instead of having the ideas jumbled in my head with nowhere to go – and making sure I am in alignment with the clients needs.
What to Do When You’re Done
After dumping my guts out onto a piece of paper, I typically feel relieved, like I no longer have to remember everything there is in the world. Sometimes I don’t feel the need to go back over my entry. Other times, it can be helpful to look back at my journal and pull recurring themes from what I wrote down. There may be something I need to focus on or a significant reason I’m feeling anxious. When you brain dump, take note of these items, and when you are ready, start to take small steps toward real change.
This way of journaling has been a game changer for me. I no longer soak in anxiety and feel confined by the thoughts in my head. I now have a healthy outlet to let it go, whether in my personal or professional life. So try it. If you are feeling the pressure or need a release, get out your journal or iPad and start dumping.