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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