For 100 years, psychologists have helped patients battle the challenges that come our way on the roller coaster of life.
However, when anxiety and stress become too heavy to bare, they can turn into unsettling dreams and even nightmares, compromising our sleep.
“Dreams have long been associated with psychiatry and psychiatric understanding of what's going on it was Freud who said dreams were the royal road to the unconscious,” Dr. Stuart Anfang, Chief of Adult Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center said.
The subconscious mind is tricky at first, but it can often lead to a greater understanding of life stresses.
"When people are anxious or distressed it's not uncommon to over spill into dreams,” Dr. Anfang added.
Sometimes, a clear manifestation of your life worries, other times hidden in symbolism or transformed images.
“Anxiety is normal. We all have it, its part of our response, the flight or fight response,” Dr. Anfang explained.
The problems ensue when your anxiety is keeping you awake at night or impairing your daily functioning.
"When anxiety becomes problematic, it can affect you in all sorts of different ways that could range from chronic anxiety, nervousness, discreet episodes panic attacks,” Dr. Anfang detailed.
According to Dr. Anfang, there are several places you can start.
Practicing proper sleep hygiene like not drinking caffeine or alcohol too close to bed time and having a regular sleep routine. You could also target your insomnia in a more specific way, be it medication, or psycho-therapy.
However, there are also other creative ways one can control their anxiety and your subconscious mind.
Jess Steinman is a local psychic who's dealt with the battle of anxiety dreams herself, in addition to those of her clients. She said that journaling is a great trick.
"Use a dream journal, write down what you get in your dreams. I had a long time where I was dreaming that I was being swept under water. So I asked myself where am I feeling overwhelmed. I was writing down my dreams and noticed hey I’ve had a week of these dreams. Where am I feeling overwhelmed in my life?” Steinman said.
Flying, being stuck in mud, even caught in a large crowd sans clothes, are all common dreams fueled by anxiety.
Is there an issue are you failing to deal with or even avoiding? Steinman says journaling before bed might even be better than after for some people. Almost manipulating your mind to sort things out before you close your eyes.
"You start to make sense of your dreams, it helps your brain calm down a bit. Now I understand what's going on and now I know how to process during the day when I am awake,” Steinman continued.
After journaling herself for about three years, Steinman said it helped her better come to grips during the day with her unsettled thoughts, allowing her brain to relax at night.
"It helped me understand what was going on and the themes coming, it was often variations of the same things.” Steinman said.
Steinman said what works for one won't always work for all, but putting your problems in front of you and facing them is definitely a great launching pad.
But there's no doubt when your lack of sleep becomes a serious impairment issue, it might be a good time to talk to your primary care provider to see what they recommend to find the perfect remedy for you.
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