At one point or another in your life, you’ve probably kept some form of a journal or another.
And maybe, originally, it was a tangible, hardback book you hand-scrawled the day’s events into, along with your hopes, dreams, fears, and everything else that was going on in your head at the time. Then, perhaps as technology simplified and changed things, your journal became an intangible, online record of these same things.
Keeping a journal to record the activities of your waking hours is great. You can look back on it, be reminded of some of the events in your life, and find patterns in your thoughts and actions which can help you work through issues, grow, and even make better decisions moving forward.
What you might not have given as much thought to, though, is keeping a dream journal.
Sure, it might be fun to be able to recall your dreams in greater detail, but what other purposes does a dream journal really serve?
Here, we’ll examine 5 of the ways you can benefit from keeping a dream journal, so you can decide if it’s something you feel is worth trying.
Process Your Emotions
Dreams are windows to the soul, as they say.
And, just as a daily journal can help you process your emotions, so, too, can a dream journal.
Our dreams are often informed by the events in our lives. For example, you may have had anxiety over a big presentation at work, and found that same performance anxiety reappears in your dreams. Even if the source of the anxiety is different, your subconscious may be trying to help you work through that “emotional unfinished business” and process it, so that you wake up with fewer worries in the morning.
By keeping a dream journal, you’ll have a record of your recurring dreams and the themes and patterns within. And, you may even find it easier to understand those feelings that you can’t quite put your finger on during the day. Identifying patterns in your dreams and subconscious thoughts can make it a lot easier to process them because you’ll gain a deeper understanding of yourself. After all, it’s much less difficult to work through something when you understand its root cause.
Fuel Your Creativity
From Edgar Allen Poe’s poetry to Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory, many famous writers, artists, creatives, (and even inventors!)’ ideas came from their dreams.
Keeping a dream journal can inspire you. Not only the dreams themselves, but the process of thinking about each dream and asking questions can inspire creativity, too. You’ll learn to be more open-minded and inquisitive in your waking life, which can help you find more creative solutions to problems and situations you face every day.
Learn to Overcome Anxiety
Think about it: how many of your dreams feature positive scenarios and interactions? Likely, not many.
In fact, many of your dreams may be urgent in nature, where someone (or something) is chasing you or your survival is being threatened in a different way. This is because the amygdala (the part of your brain that signals the fight-or-flight response) fires more during the REM state of sleep.
Why does this happen, you ask?
Well, to put it simply, it’s our subconscious mind’s way of preparing us for the threatening situations we may face in our waking lives. When you encounter scenarios like these in your sleep, you’re essentially rehearsing what you’d do in your waking life, even though you’re (hopefully) not actually moving. Rehearsing your fight-or-flight responses (yes, even in your sleep) helps you get better at them in your waking life.
More Opportunities to Lucid Dream
When you spend time physically noting and writing down your dreams, you’re making both your conscious and subconscious mind aware that your dreams are important to you.
This can make it easier for you to achieve a lucid state of dreaming – in which you are aware of the fact that you’re dreaming and can then control the action within your dream. Lucid dreaming can improve your waking life, but you have to be open to it.
And, once you’re comfortable with lucid dreaming and have had some success, you can also try out some astral projection techniques. Talk about taking your night to the next level!
Interpreting Your Dreams Is Fun
Finally, interpreting dreams can be just plain fun.
It’s exciting trying to figure out what your subconscious mind wants to teach or show you, isn’t it? And with a whole journal of your dreams to investigate, the fun, excitement, and self-discovery never have to end if you don’t want them to.
Provided that you don’t give up journaling, of course!