5 Reasons Why I Think You Need to Keep a Dream Journal
Updated: May 7, 2019
Why do you need to keep a dream journal? I'm not talking about a journal specifically for the dreams you have when you sleep. I'm talking about your DREAMS, your aspirations, your goals and ideas. The big stuff.
For someone with ADHD, like myself, keeping a journal can be a total life changing experience. ADHD can come with a myriad of comorbid conditions like, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, to name a few. We're also notorious for having difficulty focusing and poor memory retention. Yay.
Keeping a journal has helped make dealing with, um... myself, a lot easier. Also, I'm sure everyone struggles with some of these things and could benefit from using a dream journal, not just us ADHDers.
***I should note that I'm not a mental health professional and if you're struggling with Anxiety, Depression, OCD, ADHD, etc., I encourage you to speak with one. These are just some of the tools in my toolbox that I use make my life easier.***
So, without further adieu, based upon my life experience, here are my 5 reasons why I think you need a dream journal:
Remembering things by writing them down.
I tend to forget things a lot. Like, 98% of the time you can guarantee that I'll forget to do that thing I needed to do. I come up with amazing ideas for things I want to create or do, but I have a really hard time holding on to those ideas long term and usually end up forgetting them in a few minutes.
It took me a long time to realize that if I wanted to remember
something long term, then I needed to write it down. I'd figured this out in college. Something about the physical act of writing made things stick a little better. Sleeping on it seemed to increase the staying power.
Writing is a great way to help improve your memory retention when you're studying. It's also useful for...
Setting goals so you can achieve your dreams.
Like I mentioned before, my memory sucks. This makes long term goal setting problematic because there can be a lot to do in order to achieve a goal and I have a hard time retaining all of that information. Staring a huge goal in the face can be overwhelming.
I've found that writing down my goal and then breaking it down into smaller steps makes the process of achieving that goal easier to digest. You can even make it into an inforgraphic that you color in each time a step has been completed.
I use colorful washi tape to make tabs on the edge of the pages so I can easily find the page again when I want to revisit that goal.
Sometimes there are things that keep us from achieving our dreams. Sometimes those things are our own thought patterns.
Change your thought patterns, change your story.
Since writing helps you to remember things, it works really well for
positive affirmation exercises used to combat negative and self-sabotaging thoughts. Basically, reminding yourself that you aren't stupid and you are a good person and listing the reasons why.
You can take this a step further, though, and completely change your story. We all have stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves. Some are good and some are bad. They're usually based on things people have told us or experiences we've had, but that doesn't mean they're always true.
Changing your story was something I wasn't even aware of until I read You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero (pg. 137).
I went through her prompts and wrote down all the things I've been told or tell myself. Then I went through those things and wrote my own "Badass Story Changer" in my journal which I revisit, rewrite and add to occasionally.
Changing the way you think about yourself and how you relate to the world can be really helpful in achieving your dreams, but what if all of those negative thoughts and stories hit us all at once?
Clear your mind and your dreams will follow.
I've kept an unofficial journal on and off for most of my life. I use it to write down my feelings when I'm stressed out, anxious and having a hard time getting my brain to shut off due to constant intrusive thoughts.
Side note: My yammering, worrying brain is one of the primary causes of my insomnia. The other cause is drinking Coca-cola Classic in the afternoon, but that's a different topic altogether.
This practice of writing my thoughts is therapy for me. For reals. Once I write down everything I'm thinking about or feeling emotionally, it takes away some of the mental burden and eases my anxiety. There's actually a study about how doing this can help you.
I can then step back and gain a different perspective on the situation, which is difficult to do when you're in the thick of it, and figure out why I'm feeling a certain way and see if I can change it.
I can also just vomit words... Wait, that sounds gross... I can also just purge my thoughts onto the page and assess them later, like, after a good nights sleep.
A relaxed mind is a receptive mind, which leads me to...
Keep track of the big ideas that will lead you to your dreams.
If you're a creative person, you know that there are days when
you're just bursting with ideas, and then there are days when you wonder if you have a single creative bone in your body.
It's a really good idea to take advantage of those moments when your Muse decides to speak to you and write down those ideas and inspirations for future use.
This usually happens for me when I'm at my most relaxed, like, when I'm lying in bed about to fall asleep. Sometimes my Muse speaks to me when I'm in the shower and suddenly I'm yelling, "Hey, Siri, remind me of this thing!" Later, when Siri reminds me, I write my thought down in my journal.
I have a huge list of ideas that I keep handy for whenever I hit a dry spell.
Now, if your moose is speaking to you, well, then you may have actually fallen asleep. Write that shit down anyway though, because my last reason for why you need a dream journal is...
To write down your dreams!
When we sleep at night, one of the things that our brains do is sort through and process everything that we've experienced and learned that day.
For me this can result in some really crazy dreams, like, pushing my daughter in a grocery cart through an abandoned mental asylum while armed with a pump-action shotgun (with infinite ammo apparently) and taking out zombies. I was a total badass in that dream. I had also been playing State of Decay 2.
Or, discovering that my [fictitional] neighbor had a barn full of alien egg pods and was kidnapping people to feed to his growing brood.
Yep. I honestly have no idea what spawned that dream.
Anyway... Dreams can make for some amazing creative fodder, if you think about it. Write them down and squirrel them away for later. Use them as a story starter or the basis of a novel, or even illustrate them... Oh, hey, that gives me an idea!
That wraps up my 5 reasons why I think you should keep a dream journal. I hope that you found it helpful, inciteful and inspiring.
If you feel that you need a new journal in which to write down your goals, dreams and aspirations, well it just so happens that I've made a few which you can find in my Etsy shop. *wink wink*