Earlier this week, Bustle published an article about how looking at our phones when we wake up in the middle of the night is a terrible idea. I mean, staring at our phones is a terrible idea in general, but it’s especially bad when we’re trying to get to sleep. The blue light from the screen triggers the suppression of melatonin by mimicking morning light, and this tricks our bodies into thinking it’s time to get up. Not to mention that checking email and social media only adds to our anxiety and state of unrest (for reasons including, but not limited to, other people’s accomplishments, our friends’ children, our exes’ marriages, our coworkers’ vacations, and, you know, the state of the world). One of the alternatives the article gives us is to put our phones away and journal for about 30 minutes before closing our eyes. Simple enough.
But what if you need something a bit more hardcore than journaling?
Let’s talk about “word dumping.” In case you didn’t know about it already, word dumping is very similar to freewriting, except you’re less likely to call it that in a classroom, work, or creative setting. Word dumping is simply writing anything that comes to mind, for any amount of time, without worrying about grammar, syntax, topic, or style; in essence, “mindlessly” throwing all your thoughts in the garbage. Now, don’t expect to produce gorgeous, publishable prose, but do expect it’ll help get you there. More importantly, it will clear your mind of all the weird stuff that accumulated throughout the day, free up some mental real estate, and bring you a little bit of peace. It’s for the mind what yoga is for the body. The more garbage you clear out, the more space you’ll have for important tasks and mental processes the next day. This is such a helpful practice, that therapists recommend it for people who are dealing with “spinning thoughts and feelings,” i.e. anxiety.
Some people like freewriting on a specific topic, but it’s not necessary. In fact, focusing could make it less effective, in my opinion. All you need is a writing tool and a notebook or notepad. And avoid using a word processor, since that defeats the purpose of going screen-less.