3 ways journaling can help your social anxiety

A few years ago I would never have tried journaling. I assumed it was just a girly or feminine way of talking to yourself. I wasn’t about to jeopardize my masculinity so I could write some lame feelings down in a diary. What could I possibly benefit from that?

Fast forward a few years, and now I’m a huge advocate for journaling.

Why?

Because I learned how much it can help with my social anxiety.

 

If you know me, you know I don’t talk much. There are many people who are the same, and it’s not from a lack of intelligence or spite towards people around them. Sometimes when presented with a social situation, a surfeit of emotion overwhelms me and I lose my words. All the sudden I have no idea how to interact with the other person. It’s frustrating. What journaling does is help me articulate my communication confidently, and in a way that is appropriate and effective for whatever situation I’m in. For example, you may want to say hello to a random passerby, but be too nervous about a number of things. Am I going to say hello correctly?(this sounds silly but it’s true) Should I keep walking after the hello? Should it be a hello, or more of a hey there? These are real concerns for many people. Thankfully, I’m going to show you some tips for how journaling can help alleviate this kind of discomfort.

1. Prioritize fears and problems

Whilst writing down things about your day, don’t shy away from discussing the negatives. Some fears and problems can often times be resolved by simply thinking about them. Journaling forces you to think about the problem enough to get it down on a piece of paper. We are all dealing with multiple problems at any given time. But some of them need more attention than others. For example, the fact that I am failing a class would be more important than the stain I need to get out of my shirt. When you’ve identified an important problem — my example is failing a class, make a list of things that can help you solve that problem! My list would look something like this.

  • Make more time to study
  • Go in for tutoring
  • Ask more questions in class

Again, you may not need to write everything down, but doing so forces your mind to work it out — and that is the goal.

2. Identify negative behaviors and promote positive ones

Sometimes in the mess of life, it is difficult to always be self-aware. Sometimes we will do things that hurt other people– and not even notice it. Writing down events from our day will help us identify negative and positive behaviors. But it doesn’t stop there. After you categorize your actions, make a point to focus on doing the positive things, and dropping the negative ones. By becoming more self-aware, you — in turn — become more confident in the actions that you do take.

Here is an example using the situation of the passerby.

You feel anxious greeting people as you guys walk by each other. In the journal, you can write something down like — ‘greeting people with a smile and a simple hello is a positive behavior’. Then as time goes on, you can make an effort to do this with everyone you pass by. This might sound odd, but eventually, you’ll get to the point where it won’t be so routine. You’ll be confident enough in your ‘social abilities’ to say whatever you want when you see a specific person. But the journal helps you identify some of these things so you can focus on them.

3. Reduce stress

This is the one you’ve probably heard of before. When I fought with my brothers, my parents would tell us to write down our feelings. Needless to say, I thought it was really dumb. The reason for this was because writing something down allows us to really think about it. Why am I feeling this way? How am I making this other person feel?

It’s sort of like self-awareness training. And it helps with social anxiety.

After realizing the issue — and writing it down — we create a stress-free mind that is able to process it with much more clarity.

If you tend to stress about many things, write them down.

All of them.

It might take a while, but you’ll quickly realize that things you once worried so intensely about now seem insignificant.

I would love to hear how these tips work for you. Let me know in the comments!

 

5 tips to remember your dreams tonight

Dreams are such a mystery. They come and go, night after night, with little to no recollection of their contents or significance. Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers what their dreams were about. What would happen if we started to remember the things we dream about? What experiences would we have? Would we learn more about ourselves, or would we simply open up another door to an exceedingly vast sphere of mystery? I guess you never know unless you try.

Here are 5 tips to remember your dreams more clearly tonight:

1. Sleep More

This may sound obvious, but there is research that backs it. On average, we dream 4-6 times each night. The y can be long or short, detailed or dull. The goal of dream recall is to remember more of the details to even the dull dreams.

 

After 8 hours of sleep, we often experience up to 45 minutes of dreaming. That’s why we often have long and detailed dreams right before we wake up. Our minds are most likely to have dreams when we enter REM(rapid eye movement sleep). In the last minutes before we wake up, our body has entered a very deep REM cycle that prompts some awesome dreams.

Most people don’t get 8 hours of sleep every night. I don’t either. But if you want to have more REM cycles, you need to sleep more. It’s that simple.

 

2. Wake up in the middle of the night

Set an alarm for 5 hours after you go to sleep. You’re first REM cycle typically starts 4.5 hours after you actually fall asleep — so you should have gotten a solid 30 minutes of quality dreaming in. When you wake up, immediately start recalling what you remember. Take note of images, colors, sounds — and especially dialogue. The more you intentionally recall your dream details, the better you train your brain to do it naturally. Researchers suggest it’s easier to remember a dream when we wake up directly from it. This means that more often than not, you’ll be waking up in the middle of the night.

I know what you’re thinking — that sounds achingly unattractive. Who wants to disrupt a good night sleep halfway through? I understand.

But if you are serious about digging into your subconscious and remembering your dreams, you’re going to have to get a little uncomfortable.

3. Write it down

I’m sure you’ve heard of a dream journal. Many people do it simply because they love journaling, and their dreams give them something to journal about. But the main purpose of writing down your dreams is so that you can refer back to it later. Referring back to past dreams could help produce some reoccurring ones. Dreams that replay over and over again — or have a recurring aspect — are easily identified by the dreamer, making them a key piece in recalling dreams.

Keep pen and paper next to your bed. When you wake up from a dream — either in the middle of the night or in the morning — write down everything you remember about that dream. And I mean EVERYTHING. Where were you? What were you doing? Who was there? Try to recall specifics and rebuild the dream again in your head and on paper.  You can even take it a step further and write down specific things from your dreams on your bathroom mirror, in your car, or on the ceiling above your bed.

If you want, you can work on your memory recalling skills by remembering things you did in the waking day. Write down what you ate for breakfast or what color your best friends lunchbox was. Recreate real-life situations on paper, and you will learn to do the same thing with your dreams.

 

4. Instruct your brain to remember your dreams

When you lie in bed at night, your brain is playing a slideshow of the day’s activities. It makes a note of everything you’ve gotten done during the day and puts more things on the to-do list. What you want to do is put ‘remember my dreams’ on the night’s to-do list.

It turns out that our subconscious minds are highly suggestive. While you are drifting off, repeat something like “I remember all my dreams” over and over again. Use the present tense — instead of saying something like “I recalled my dream yesterday” — because you’re trying to convince your mind to think a certain way.

What this does is send a command to your brain instructing it to remember the dreams you have. And while you won’t be consciously remembering, your subconscious will hear the command too and act accordingly. It sounds quite elementary, I know, but it works!

 

5. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine before sleep

As you can guess, these depressants — or stimulants — restrain your body from entering REM sleep, the type of sleep where dreams occur most frequently. Alcohol can also suppress your memory which will obviously affect your dream recall. If you can avoid coffee or alcohol for the entire day, that would be ideal. But if you can’t go without and still want to remember some dreams, just make sure it’s been 8 or so hours since the last sip. For more on how coffee affects your dreams, check out my other post: How does caffeine affect dreams?

Remembering your dreams isn’t an easy task. That’s probably why you looked up how.

Try using all of these tips collectively and watch the dreams start flooding in like the Mill River:)

Also, make sure to comment and tell me how they worked for you!