My mom introduced me to dream journals many, many years back when I still struggled with recurring nightmares. My recurring nightmares stopped 22 years ago (yes, I remember it clearly) and I’ve all but forgotten my dream journals. I’ve recently restarted them. This time, though, I don’t have a separate journal for it anymore.
Dream journals help you remember what you dreamed about and explore your thoughts and feelings about those dreams. In some cases where emotional or psychological trauma is involved, keeping a dream journal can be very helpful in processing what you’re going through. It certainly was for me as a child. Some therapists encourage people to keep a dream journal precisely for this purpose.
Here are a few things that were helpful for me, and hopefully they can be helpful for others who want to start their own dream journals too.
Write your dream down as soon as you wake up
I usually keep a notepad on a table beside the bed so that I can write down certain details about my dream if I wake up in the middle of the night or in the morning. As much as you try to remember things later in the day, you’ll forget most of it if you don’t write it down as soon as you wake up. I jot down short notes that will help me remember my dream later–places, people, conversations–and then take the time to write a longer journal entry afterwards.
Be mindful of recurring themes
For the longest time, the recurring theme of my childhood dreams was trying to run away and my legs would refuse to move. The story would be different but this would always be the common thread–failed escape.
Note down how you felt while dreaming
I always note down what I felt inside the dream. Was I happy? Was I sad? Did I feel pursued? Did I feel safe? You might not be able to remember the tiny details that make up your dream, but you can at least remember this and jot it down as soon as you can.
Note down how you felt as you woke up
“I woke up feeling…” has always been a part of my dream journals. There are even dreams that affect how we feel for the rest of the day. I write all of that down because it could be helpful in processing how your dream affected your emotions afterwards.
Don’t just focus on bad dreams
There are happy dreams too. Write them down as much as you write the bad ones. You’ll find this part of keeping a dream journal to be very interesting. Write down interesting ideas, colorful symbolism, striking words in conversations. Sometimes you get the best, most creative ideas while you’re asleep.
Of course there are journals in the market being sold as “dream journals”, but I personally believe that you don’t need that too much. All you need is to remember as much as of your dream as you can and just explore it afterwards by writing. Sometimes, memories come to the surface as I explore my thoughts on the dreams that I write about.
Give it a try! You might find it helpful. 🙂