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Embrace | Overcome | Create Your Life 

  • Writer's pictureTerri K. Lankford, LPCS

Three Brilliant Ways to Use Brain-Dumping


Have you ever heard of “brain-dumping” before? Chances are, you may have heard or even done brain-dumping and didn’t even realize it.


Brain-dumping involves taking all of those racing thoughts in your mind - things to do, worries, anxious thoughts, and self-doubt - and writing it on a page (or dumping it). This can be done before anxious thoughts arrive, in the moment of the panic, or afterwards as a way to reflect and destress yourself.


Brain-dumping can provide a sense of relief and reduce mental clutter, alleviating feelings of overwhelm and stress. Engaging in this practice allows individuals to externalize their thoughts, helping them gain better clarity and perspective on their emotions and challenges. Additionally, it fosters self-awareness, promotes mindfulness, and can serve as a valuable tool for introspection and self-discovery, ultimately contributing to improved mental well-being.


So, we’ve established brain-dumping is putting all the jumbled thoughts in your head onto a page. We’ve also established this can be helpful to externalize thoughts and emotionally regulate. Now - is it really just throwing things on a page, or are there some techniques you can try?


We’re glad you asked! Here are three different ways you can use brain-dumping to your advantage:


Brain-Dumping as a Container Exercise

The container exercise, which is often used alongside EMDR, is a therapeutic technique that involves visualizing a mental container to hold and manage distressing emotions, memories, or thoughts. By creating this imaginary vessel, individuals can safely explore and process challenging feelings without being overwhelmed by them.


Want to integrate brain-dumping with the container exercise? Try these three steps:

  1. On a piece of paper, draw a container that can be used for storage that’s as big as the page. It can be a jar, a box, a fishbowl … anything you want.

  2. Inside the container, write your thoughts. They don’t have to be organized or even make sense. Write what feels good.

  3. When you’re done, literally put the container away to deal with another time, when you’re more regulated. You can hide it under a bed, in a folder, in a desk … wherever is hidden enough that you won’t stare at it until you’re ready.


Brain-Dumping as a Thoughts-Challenging Activity

If you’ve ever done CBT before, you’ve likely done some form of thought challenging - that is, checking the facts around a thought and challenging its accuracy. To combine brain-dumping with thought challenging, try the following:

  1. On a piece of paper, write down your thoughts, especially thoughts of self-doubt or catastrophe. This is the time to jot down that worst-case-scenario you’ve been ruminating over.

  2. Put the piece of paper to a side for a second and do some sort of grounding technique, like 5-4-3-2-1 senses grounding, box breathing, or gentle movement.

  3. When you feel ready, come back to your piece of paper and take a look at the thoughts. As you read the thoughts you jotted down, think: what is the evidence for this? What is more likely to happen?


Brain-Dumping as an Acceptance Exercise

Acceptance, commonly used in ACT, is the opposite of CBT - instead of challenging your thoughts, you learn to sit with them. Try out this exercise to practice acceptance of thoughts:

  1. On a piece of paper, write down your thoughts, including thoughts of shame, guilt, anger, and sadness.

  2. Put the piece of paper to a side for a second and do some sort of grounding technique, like 5-4-3-2-1 senses grounding, box breathing, or gentle movement.

  3. When you feel ready, come back to your piece of paper and take a look at the thoughts. As you read the thoughts you jotted down, remind yourself: it’s normal to have sad/shame-filled/guilty/angry emotions. All emotions are welcome at the table. Emotions and thoughts alike are temporary visitors that pass.

Also, a disclaimer about all three of these exercises - we mentioned coming back to the page to reconsider or review your writing, but this is never a requirement. Sometimes, putting space between yourself and your thoughts is enough! Feel free to burn the paper, rip it up, stomp on it, shred it … whatever feels affirming for you.


We hope this blog post helped introduce you to three different ways to use the brain-dumping exercise! If you want more holistic help, look no further than Rise and Thrive Counseling. Our holistic counselors can help address all areas of life - especially emotional wellness. Reach out today to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Welcome to Embrace | Overcome | Create Your Life.

 

I’m Terri Kiser Lankford, owner of the Rise & Thrive Counseling Practice, a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (in NC), and the host here at Rise & Thrive Counseling, PLLC and the Embrace| Overcome|CreateYourLife Blog.

 

I’m also an entrepreneur, Syltherin, foodie on a fitness journey, complete book nerd, photography novice who happens to think music is life. 

 

Warning! This site is about motivation, health & wellness, and self love.  but its also about various mental health issues and may talk about subjects such as suicide, self-harm and other touchy subjects at some point. This site is not intended for youth and may be “too much” to some.

 

Nothing on this site should be considered a medical recommendation. I am not a doctor. Anything of interest should be discussed with your doctor or therapist, or me (in person) if you are my current client.  No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. (Sorry, I have to say that.)

 

All writing and mental health information here are accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time of publication. However, keep in mind my opinion, and available information, changes over time.

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