How to Survive Nightmares

Awhile back, on Twitter, I conducted a poll to find out if people would like to see a post on how to deal with chronic nightmares. It was a strange request, but so be it. Overwhelmingly, people wanted a post on this subject. Of course, I am not trained in psychology or anything in that realm. I am just a person who has had years and years of experience dealing with this freaking issue. Come on, I have a dream about the man of my dreams and someone is still trying to kill me. Yes, I have issues, no need to point that out.

I have had the ever present irritant, aka anxiety, for as long as I can remember. Generally, I can pinpoint it developing/awakening at about age 5. Like I said I have years and years of experience. All through this time I have also had nightmares. As I have gotten older my nightmares have become increasingly……shall we say interesting.

A nightmare can be defined as a frightening or unpleasant dream. It can be horrifying, sad, traumatic, or shameful. Kind of like a typical Friday night out.

I’ve had them all, it seems. I’ve had nightmares that make me wake up in the middle of a panic or anxiety attack, in a pool of sweat, bawling my eyes out, so petrified I couldn’t move, or so humiliated or ashamed the guilt ate me alive.

See? I said like a Friday night.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I even realized that I have chronic nightmares. Apparently, I’m oblivious and anxious, but it should have been obvious. But they have just always been a part of my life so I guess I didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until they were so bad that I was having them every single night, maybe even multiple a night. They were getting more and more severe in the themes and sleep was becoming harder to come by.

Theses are the steps I took to help ease my nightmares. I still follow most of them on a day-to-day basis.

                                        GET VIOLENT BOOKS OUT OF BEDROOM                                                

This tip is a weird one, I know. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, or maybe I’m crazy, but whatever the cause, it does help. I own books on serial killers and I have a lot of mystery and thriller books. I just love these subjects and find them interesting. For some reason, though, I get an increase of nightmares when these books sit in my bedroom. I don’t know if it’s the subconscious memory that I have that stuff in my room or what. But it really does ease my mind when I let these books sit on a shelf in the hall instead of my room.

                            MORE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT I WATCH BEFORE BED                                    

Once I figured out that my sleep was being severely disturbed by nightmares I began evaluating the causes. This made me become much more careful about what I watch at night before bed. This isn’t to say I don’t binge watch violent and creepy things at night. I mean I love those things. It’s just to say I’m making a more conscious choice than I used to. Which leads me to my next point.

                                              LISTEN TO MY ANXIETY LEVEL                                                         

Like I said I love watching violent and creepy things. Crime is one of my favorite genres. But watching those things and reading things all  depends on my mental point. Just how high is my anxiety today? Sometimes my anxiety is just too high to be watching things that are designed to play with and creep your mind out. If this is the case I step away and watch something light and fun to ease my mind.

                                                         TRY TO STAY CALM                                                                      

At all times I try to be as logical as possible. Not always easy with anxiety. So whenever one of my nightmares do happen and ends up waking me up I evaluate it. Also, deep breathe. I happen to find that to be incredibly calming for my anxious mind. Both logical evaluation and calm breathing are especially important if your nightmare was so bad that you can’t figure out reality. When your mind is so overwhelmed that you need to just breath, first and foremost. Then once you begin to calm evaluate. What was the nightmare about? Is it even possible? Why are you scared/upset? Ask whatever questions calm you down.

                                                      WORK ON MY ANXIETY                                                                 

This is a no-brainer. Those of us with anxiety are always trying to figure out how to live with it, I know. But it is important. Every day I am trying to face and control my anxiety. If i can keep it at a lower level during the day I am less likely to have nightmares. I try to stay positive as much as I can. Like I said before if my anxiety is high I’m careful about what I do, so as to not increase the issue. Working on my anxiety is never easy. It’s even harder when you can’t sleep because the nightmares are so bad. But I do reap the benefits in all my life when I can actually sleep well without invaders.

 

These are all tricks that I’ve found that works, for me. I really hope some of these work for all the other people who suffer from chronic nightmares. Because I do know how miserable they are. Good luck.

 

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14 Comments on “How to Survive Nightmares

  1. I have had nightmares since I was a child as well. I love these tips, thank you! I also love horror and true crime everything, so I’ve definitely had to learn when to take a break.

    Like

  2. I’ve lived with Anxiety for a long time and I do similar things in order to help sleep Better and prevent insomnia. Really well written, I appreciate your thoughtfulness!

    Like

    • Thank you. I try really hard with each post and sometimes I succeed. LOL yay. Living with anxiety is exhausting and does effect sleep even without nightmares and insomnia. I’m not 100% sure if the nightmares or insomnia, for me, is worse as they both suck. Definitely takes some trial and error to figure out what works. At least for me.

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. Hi Lindsey
    How horrible for you, that sounds horrendous.
    Two things come to mind. Yoga is one, breathing techniques are so useful in tempering anxiety- especially when combined with guided meditation.

    The other thing is – have you tried writing them down? I find that documenting things like this can take the power out of them AND if you have an interest in crime/horror etc this could be the basis for a book? If there was a way of making the damned things work for you, it wouldn’t half take the sting out of them?

    I feel for you – I get too many of them myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is something I’ve kind of learned to live with as well as I can. Oh I love yoga and meditation. I really do need to get back to doing that, it really is relaxing and it helps reduce my anxiety levels. I love the idea of writing down my nightmares! I mean I don’t remember then real well but I remember them well enough to do that. I’m going to have to start doing that too. Thank you for the suggestions!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like this post. I feel so silly that I am an adult and still have nightmares sometimes. I believe that mine is also caused by a lot of my anxiety. I also have traced it to scary or suspenseful movies that my husband and I have watched at night. I try to make sure now to watch “happy” tv before bed. This is basically mindless sitcoms that don’t make me nervous. And I have bought a diffuser that I put by the bed and put some lavender in at night to relax. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

    • I used to feel embarrassed over my nightmares too. But it seems so much more deeply rooted then it was when we were children.
      It’s amazing how a simple funny sitcom can calm the mind enough to allow you to sleep. It’s something I have to do alot of. But I do love a great sitcom.

      Liked by 1 person

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