How Your Dreams Reflect Your Suppressed Emotions
If you’ve ever tried to get past a stressful day by putting negative thoughts out of your mind, only to have them come back to you a few nights later in the form of an anxiety dream, you probably know how your attempts to suppress waking thoughts can intrude on your restful sleep. What are some common characteristics of anxiety dreams, and how do they impact your daily life?
Why Do We Dream?
Though scientists still aren’t entirely sure what function dreams serve, one prevailing hypothesis is that your subconscious is trying to solve problems, make new connections and tighten up loose ends while you sleep. In other words, your brain is helping you sort through the feelings you experience in your waking life and learn new things from them.
Though you may often forget your dreams as soon as you wake up, some recurring themes can take on an outsized role in the “movies” that play in your head while you sleep. If you tend to have similar dreams night after night, it could indicate issues in your life you haven’t appropriately addressed. For example, if you are worried about your preparations for an upcoming presentation at work, it could manifest in a series of dreams about having to take exams you haven’t studied for.
While you sleep, you can experience extreme emotions such as fear and anxiety, as well as unusual sensory feelings such as flying, falling or being unable to move quickly. Though dreams frequently contain illogical or impossible scenarios such as sudden shifts in setting or being able to talk with deceased loved ones, your subconscious mind accepts these bizarre occurrences without question.
Common Hallmarks of Anxiety Dreams
How can you tell if your dreams are reflecting emotions you have kept in check during the day? Though dream interpretation is subjective, at best, here are some of the most frequent dream themes that could indicate worries or unresolved tension in your daily life.
Dreams about being lost might mean you are projecting worries about being inadequate, vulnerable or insecure. They could also indicate that you feel out of control or that you lack a sense of purpose. In many cases, these types of dreams echo the anxiety you feel while you are awake.
Some people’s troubling dreams have them running from an often invisible pursuer. These kinds of dreams can leave you feeling drained and exhausted in the morning. The most straightforward interpretation of these dreams is that you are metaphorically running away from something such as an important decision or a challenging situation.
Being late in a dream often symbolizes that you are worried about missing key responsibilities in your life, which are often work-related. For example, if you regularly dream about missing the bus that takes you to your job, you might be feeling incompetent or unprepared to meet the challenges of your daily life.
Working Through Challenging Emotions
Anxiety dreams can trouble your sleep and put you in a bad mood for the day ahead. If you regularly struggle with these kinds of dreams, it can be beneficial to record their details in a journal so you notice any patterns that might emerge. You could also consider talking to a therapist about your worries.
At Serene Behavioral Health, our mission is helping adults with mental illnesses learn to live happy, fulfilling and independent lives. To learn more about our levels of care and what we treat, connect with us today.