I speak to a lot of people who are stressed out, anxious, and frustrated about some area of their life – with no way to release it.
They carry this stress around with themselves day in, day out, occasionally letting go by venting or waiting until it’s unbearable and they explode.
For example the other day I had a friend staying at my apartment. She was having trouble sleeping at night and said that the thoughts racing through her head were keeping her awake.
So what did I do to help her?
I gave her a journal and a pen, and I told her to write everything in her mind down on paper before she gets into bed at night.
She had the best night of sleep she had in weeks in the first night, and hasn’t dropped the habit since.
I had another friend who doesn’t necessarily have problems sleeping, but just feels like his mind races too much. Too many thoughts circle around and he feels like he can’t get out of his own head.
Again I suggested the journal, but he doesn’t like to write. He was resistant to the idea. Said he’s “too busy” and “it takes too much time” (eye roll).
So instead I told him to use voice notes. To do a voice journal every day where he simply recounts the day. To do this when he leaves the office so that by the time he gets back home he’s already processed and released the majority of his thoughts about work.
Again – immediate results. He now has the habit of voice journaling on a daily basis.
You see, throughout the course of our days we will inevitably encounter stressful situations and things that leave our minds racing and thoughts circling – So we need an antidote to this madness.
We need a release.
I believe that in order to properly let go of unpleasant emotions and feelings, we need a way to let go of them. A way to channel that energy and frustration out of our head and into something else.
It’s pent up energy – energy that needs to be let out that has no vehicle or way of doing so.
So how do you do it?
Two words – Brain dump.
You need to take a big fat dump of thoughts and let it out of your system.
Imagine that your mind is, quite literally, constipated. It’s full of thoughts. Too full, and now you’re feeling the effects. Your mind feels bloated.
It feels like you need to take a big mental shit and let it all fly out, farts and all!
But you can’t just take a dump anywhere – you need a toilet. You need a container to release into.
In comes the journal/computer/cell phone. This is your receptacle. This is the safe space for you to shit all over the place!
Personally, I find journaling to be the most effective method. Writing down my thoughts and feelings onto a piece of paper, or into my computer.
If I can’t do this, I’ll do voice notes. You can also talk to someone else – pending that they are willing to listen.
I call this technique “brain dumping”, because it’s like taking a dump of thoughts onto the page. Getting all of the thoughts out of my head and into a medium of some form or the other – whether it be written by hand, typed onto the computer, or spoken out loud.
I find that by getting thoughts out of my head and onto the page/screen it gives me some separation and distance from them. Helps me to see them from an objective point of view. Gives me clarity and organization.
Whenever I’m feeling like thoughts or racing, or that my mind is full of too many ideas, I immediately pull out the journal and get to dumping. Sometimes it’s so intense it’s more like mental diarrhea flying out of my system!
Jokes aside – It’s been the most powerful therapeutic tool I’ve discovered – even more so than meditation and exercise.
On the note of meditation and exercise – I DO also believe that both help to facilitate the brain dumping… but don’t do the full job.
Exercise gives me some separation from the thoughts going through my head, but doesn’t help me to let go of them entirely. They are still in there circling around, just slightly less intense.
Exercise helps to calm the mind before the brain dump, makes the thoughts loosen up a bit and relax. It’s like the cup of coffee that facilitates the shit and makes it easier to get it out of your system.
And as much as I love meditation, I don’t think that it will do the trick either. Many people (especially beginners), find that the thoughts are amplified when they try to sit down and meditate. They circle too intensely and a 10 minute meditation isn’t much of a release at all.
That’s why I prefer to meditate after a nice big brain dump. It’s like using a moist towelette to wipe my ass – it’s the soothing after balm.
For this reason I prefer to excercise BEFORE the brain dump, and then meditate AFTER the brain dump, to get myself back to homeostasis and compete the process of self-healing.
In any case, brain dumping is hands down the most effective therapeutic tool I have discovered for myself in all my years of exploring the mind and learning about meditation and mindfulness.
It takes no training and anyone can do it any time. It’s a big reason why I don’t carry around a lot of stress with me – I process and let go of things quickly.
So the next time you are feeling stressed – brain dump that shit! Get to writing or talking into your phone. Get some way of getting it out of your head and into something else.
TRUST ME. It will work. I guarantee it.
You might even surprise yourself with how much you write/speak/shit 😉
However – I will say that just like a regular dump, this won’t release a lifetime of accumulated unhealthy eating habits. In the same way a dump is the result of what you have eaten over the last 24 hours, you could say the same for brain dumping as well. It’s a good way to get rid of the energy from today, or this week, or this month, but it’s harder for longer periods of time or intense trauma. That’s where the real healing work comes into practice. This is just one tool to help along the curing path.
Either way, give it a try because you know that it will help you to live a calmer and happier life. Because you know that you don’t want to carry around stress with you any longer. Because you know that if you love yourself, it’s the healthiest thing you can do.
Now get out there and take a big fat brain dump of thoughts onto the page and release that shit! (Pun intended 😉 )