Are You Stressed Out in Your Dreams? An Expert Reveals What This Means
Do you regularly have unpleasant dreams?
Sweety High spoke with dream analyst, Jane Teresa Anderson, to get the unconscious scoop on all things stress-related once it's lights out.
She explained the different types of common stress dreams and what all those nightmarish, fever-inducing symbols actually mean. Turns out, even in our sleep, we can't avoid English lectures in metaphor.
Jane is a dream therapist who has written seven books on the subject and frequently appears on TV and radio to dish on subconscious thoughts, so you can definitely say this expert knows the biz. Continue reading for her insight on our least favorite types of dreams and how they can actually be helpful tools for our waking hours:
What Is a Stress Dream?
You probably have a very clear image in mind as to what types of narratives live in stress dreams, nightmares or "bad" dreams. But as it turns out, this expert doesn't enjoy the negative categorization of these typically stressful dreams.
(Divergent via Lionsgate)
"I look at all dreams as reflecting what's been going on for the dreamer in the 1-2 days before the dream," Jane tells us. "Dreams process a person's conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 1-2 days, trying to make sense of them. The dreaming mind tries to put everything in context, comparing our experiences to all our past experiences, building our memories and beliefs night-by-night."
She adds, "If you've had a stressful day, your dreams will process those stressful feelings, trying to make sense of them, trying to resolve them and trying to equip you with how to deal with them."
Simply put, a stress dream is a reflection of a stressful experience in your waking life. Now let's get into some of the most common types of anxiety-riddled dreams below.
A very common and very Halloween-esque dream that people frequently report is that of their teeth falling or crumbling out of their mouths. While this dream may seem downright gag-worthy, it actually serves or more profound purpose.
"In these dreams you're opening your mouth and losing something very valuable, and generally you feel embarrassed or upset," Jane says. "A powerful way to understand dreams is to look at them as metaphors for what's going on in your life."
She provides life examples, including being worried about the words you use in speech, wishing to take your words back or having a lack of confidence when you speak. Jane suggests that you reflect on the feelings you experienced when losing your baby teeth.
"These dreams may pop up when you have similar feelings come up for you in your life today," she explains.
If you've experienced a dream in which you're free-falling, Jane suggests you get grounded in your experiences of the last couple days. It would be helpful to note the feelings you experienced while falling in your dream, and then reflect on another time in the past couple of days that you experienced the same feelings while waking.
"Have you been holding on too tight to a situation, feeling or belief for fear of letting go?" she asks.
Jane suggests that in the case of a falling dream, it may be time to face your fears. Whether you feel like you may be falling behind in something or you're uneasy "as if there's no stable ground in your life," these insecurities are most likely causing this skydiving sensation.
(Divergent via Lionsgate)
One of the most dreaded stress dreams is the snooze in which you're being chased. Does anyone else ever feel like they can't run quite fast enough to escape? Exhausting.
"What is chasing you in the dream?" Jane asks, "This gives you a clue about what you're running away from. Generally these dreams are about fears we're trying to escape, rather than face, confront or resolve."
While these dreams can be frightening, Jane also provides ways of dealing.
"When you wake up from this dream, close your eyes and imagine yourself back in the dream," she suggests. "Only, this time turn and face the thing you're running from. As you imagine facing it, see it change into something kind and comfortable, or turn it into a puppy or whatever feels right to you."
She notes that doing this exercise, "programs your unconscious mind to give you the confidence to face your fears rather than run."
(Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban via Warner Bros.)
Being Naked in Public
While this dream is quite literal, Jane suggests that your birthday suit reflects an inward embarrassment.
Again looking at the past couple of days, she asks that you reflect on a moment in which you experienced these emotions.
"Did you feel that people could see right through you?" she questions. "Not your naked body, but your naked mind, heart and soul?"
Jane acknowledges that this dream could reflect on a moment in which you felt embarrassed or vulnerable in front of your peers.
In order to avoid these types of telling dreams, you could "find a way to become more comfortable about being yourself in day-to-day life, not needing an image or public face to hide behind."
Having to Perform Without Knowing the Material
Everyone has experienced a dream in which they have to take the stage, the exam or the field without knowing anything about the task at hand. Whether you're suddenly the star of a play you've never rehearsed or you're taking a test for a class you're not in, these dreams speak to your social anxiety.
Jane says that this could be the dream of the perfectionist. From these performance anxiety dreams, it's possible for the dreamer to learn how to make mistakes, become more spontaneous or communicate with people.
The major question this stress dream asks is, "Where might trusting in uncertainty take you from time-to-time?"
If you're a seasoned napper, click HERE for all the naptime insight revealed to us by a sleep expert.