Instead of focusing on writing about one event, brain dumping allows you to get down all of your thoughts in a speedy manner (usually within 5 or 10 minutes). The idea is that when you get all of the thoughts crowding your head on paper, you free up space in your brain to be productive and learn new things. In this article, we shall discuss using brain dump as a tool for stress relief.
The idea is that by getting these running thoughts out of your head and onto the page, you will experience some freedom from the stress they often induce.
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Types of Brain Dumps
A brain dump is a type of therapeutic writing, which is when you write down your thoughts and feelings in order to let go of—and gain a greater understanding of—challenging emotions. Although therapy is the mainstay of mental health care, therapeutic journaling is frequently recommended by therapists and counselors as a way to manage your mental health.
Therapeutic journaling is helpful for people who deal with racing and overwhelming thoughts that tend to accumulate in the mind. Releasing these thoughts on paper can be healing and can free up space in your mind for less intense or intrusive thoughts.
Brain dumps are similar to other types of writing that can be beneficial for mental health, like jotting down a list of your worries before so that you can sleep better, journaling to relieve anxiety, and keeping a gratitude journal for improved emotional well-being.
While brain dumps may have similar therapeutic value as other forms of journaling, they have fewer rules and constraints.
Brain dumps are about spilling your thoughts on the page in whatever form that takes. You can write a list of your worries, you can write down your actual to-do list, or you can free-associate and write down whatever pops into your head.
Other Types of Brain Dumps
There are a few other types of brain dumps besides the one that focuses on releasing thoughts and emotions onto the page.
Creative Brain Dumps
These are brain dumps used to generate and brainstorm ideas for creative and work projects and don’t include personal elements.
Brain Dump in Information Technology
This refers to information on a specific topic, often stored in an electronic format. The term “braindump” is strongly associated with websites that unethically provide answers to test questions on information technology (IT) certification tests.
The Benefits of Brain Dumping
Brain dumping specifically hasn’t been studied extensively, but journaling in general for mental health has, and researchers have found many benefits to the practice.
What the Latest Research Says
Let’s take a look at the most recent studies on the mental health benefits of writing.
A 2018 trial published in JMIR Mental Health looked at the effects of engaging in an online positive affect journaling (PAJ) routine among adults who lived with mental health challenges, including anxiety. The intervention group engaged in a journaling session 3 times a week for 15 minutes over a 12-week period. The researchers found that journaling participants showed decreased anxiety and stress, along with increased resilience and social skills, as compared to participants who didn’t journal.
A 2022 review published in Family Medicine and Community Health found small but encouraging mental health gains among people who journaled. People who journaled had an overall 5% reduction in mental health scores as compared with people who didn’t journal. The strongest benefits were seen in mental health conditions like anxiety and PTSD. Although more research needs to be done, the review team recommended journaling as a beneficial, low-cost, harm-free addition to psychotherapy for the management of mental illness.
Writing shows much promise as a before-bedtime ritual, and doing a “brain dump” type of writing ritual may be just the ticket to better sleep. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology looked at the practice of writing before going to sleep and its impact on falling asleep. This study compared the act of writing down a to-do list versus journaling about activities that had already happened.
Interestingly, the people who wrote down their to-do lists fell asleep notably faster than people who did more traditional journaling. The effect was greatest among people who made their to-do list as specific as possible. Writing down one’s thoughts in list-style form and including to-do lists is one feature of brain dumping, so this is an encouraging study for brain dump proponents.
How Often Can I Brain Dump?
There are no rules when it comes to brain dumping. You can do it as often as you wish. But the studies that have looked at the benefits of writing and journaling found that performing these acts with regularity—at least a few days a week—seemed to help. In other words, making brain-dumping part of your daily routine might increase its benefits.
How to Brain Dump
Brain dumping may sound like a good idea for you, but you may not know how to get started. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that brain dumping doesn’t have many rules, and that’s the point. The idea is to “dump” all your thoughts and feelings onto the page freely, without worrying about the end result.
Ready to get started? Here are some steps you can take:
- Get yourself a journal. This can be a bound journal, a composition notebook, or a notepad. You can also use an online tool, including a tablet, the “notes” section on your smartphone, or a file on your computer. Whatever feels easiest for you.
- Pick a time of day. Some people like to braindump first thing in the morning so they are free and clear all day. Some prefer to braindump after work. Others prefer to do so at night, right before bed. Again, it’s all about what works for you, and you can experiment at first to find the best time of day for you.
- Find a quiet, distraction-free place to write. This can be your bedroom, your office, a park outside, or a coffee shop. Some people need complete silence, some find that writing with music or the TV on helps, and others find white noise to be a good way to tune out the rest of the world.
- Set a timer, or note the time that you start. You don’t have to strictly time your brain dumping, but it can be helpful to set a goal of at least 5 minutes so that you stick with the exercise.
- Remember that you don’t have to be “good.” You aren’t trying to impress anyone here. No one needs to even see what you are writing! Your writing can be messy, and grammar and spelling don’t matter. The main goal here is to just get everything out.
- You make the rules. You can write in lists, you can write in short phrases, or you can write in complete sentences. You also get to pick what to write about. Maybe you want to write out your to-do lists for the day or the upcoming day. Maybe you want to write about some worries you have. Maybe you want to write down what’s making you upset lately. You can write whatever you want and what you write can change from day to day.
In summary, b brain dump can be a helpful tool for your mental health and can serve as a great way to release your worries, thoughts, and feelings. However, if you are struggling with a mental health condition, or your mental health struggles are making it difficult for you to function in your day-to-day life, brain dumping may not be enough on its own. If you are experiencing heightened mental health challenges, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health counselor or therapist.
I hope you find this article helpful as well as interesting.