How To Return To Reality After Nightmares
While dreams are classic fodder for psychotherapy sessions, when you’re coming out of a nightmare, you don’t usually want to analyze it. Instead, you want to snap out of it. Refinery29 recently reached out to Tribeca Therapy in order to find out some ways to return to reality after a nightmare.
Speaking with Sara Coughlin, our director Matt laid out some ways to deal with nightmares, including getting out of bed and doing anything that would ground you in reality. These could be actions as simple as getting a glass of cold water or opening the shades. It could also be helpful to learn how to practice some self-soothing techniques.
Sharing About Your Nightmares And Emotional Life With Other People (Including Your Therapist) Can Help
Sleep is a place where we do some heavy emotional work, usually with thoughts and feelings we don’t make room for in our daily lives. This is often because they’re too frightening to take on. Talking regularly and sharing your emotional life with other people can be a big help with nightmares. In Refinery29, Matt suggested talking to your partner or even, roommates, if they’re up for it, after waking up from a nightmare.
In addition, a great technique for managing nightmares can be recording them in writing and sharing them with a therapist. This accomplishes two things: First, it allows you to give attention to whatever you’re working through in your sleep in the place where you go to get help with your emotional life. Secondly, it’s a way of having a caring person (the therapist) there with you. Even though you’re not speaking to the therapist at the moment you wake up from a nightmare, you’re connecting through writing the thoughts down that you’ll later share in session.
It’s also worth mentioning the nightmare that is much of what’s happening in the world these days, as well the ways we’re inundated with it from the news and social media. While everyone seems to be saying this, it’s worth repeating: Turning off, particularly before bedtime, is important.