Your mind acts like a game of Jenga.
Instead of wooden blocks, however, one worry after another is stacked up.
You’re miserable with the stack of worries. Remove one and the whole tower could tumble scattering pieces of your life.
Anxiety: it’s like a bad kind of creativity
Instead of coming up with interesting ideas, you’re coming up with new things to worry about.
General anxiety disorders affect 40 million people in the United States. Plenty of others contend with it from time to time.
Unlike new ideas, the worries don’t do any good.
Worrying never changes changes anything.
People may tell you, “Don’t worry.” It’s not something you can easily stop. Realizing the likelihood of some of the things you imagine happening is small doesn’t seem to help.
Worry causes people to turn to pills and other forms of self-medication to lessen anxiety. It causes them to abandon the things and people who are ostensibly causing them anxiety.
Sometimes it causes bad habits like teeth grinding, frequent repetition of a catchword or phrase like “I’m sorry” or picking at a scab.
Worrying is expensive. It’s time consuming, crowding your mind and causing you to make poor decisions.
Stop paying the price. Mobilize your subconscious to help reduce anxiety with dream-based logic.
Why creativity can reduce anxiety
The brain and the mind are different. The mind resides in the brain. Consciousness is separate.
Consciously, you can feel one way; subconsciously, you can feel another. Since you sleep, you spend about a third of your day with your subconscious mind being dominant, as it is when you’re in one of the REM stages. Your subconscious mind has a huge effect on your life. Even if you keep a dream journal, you might not be fully aware of all of the effects. You’ll only remember only a small percentage of your dreams, no matter how good you get at it.
You typically have five to eight dreams per night. No matter how good you get at keeping a dream journal, you’re probably only going to remember one or two of them at the most.
As few as those dreams are, you sometimes notice the subjects center around a big event in your life or an upcoming change. There’s a theme. Sometimes the change has already happened, and you’re focused on it. You’re trying to adapt.
Maybe you’re moving. The topics of your dreams might center around getting to work from your new home. Maybe they’ll address making new friends. Perhaps they’ll cover how you’re going to pay for your new home. There are a myriad of things people concern themselves with when they change addresses.
In dreams, maybe it’s ostensibly about someone digging out some rooms to stay in. Maybe you’re walking up to some people you don’t know. Maybe it’s raining money, and you’re gathering them up for a down payment on your new house in a different city.
Dreams, where problems get solved in fun ways, are special. When these kinds of dreams happen naturally, it’s a way of dealing with anxiety and coming to believe something good is going to happen.
Certain dream themes are more common in certain periods. Realizing this can help with understanding how we live in phases.
Some people reduce anxiety better than others. Why?
Sleep is an important component of resilience. Self-soothing dreams are a natural part of anxiety reduction.
Ministers like Joel Osteen, who steep their sermons in the precepts of positive thinking, spend a lot of their time preaching on this, saying something good is just around the corner. Being open to that possibility is a natural part of reducing anxiety. When some people sleep, their subconscious probably naturally reduces their anxiety by solving their problems with dream logic.
The cause of anxiety? We’re blind to the future.
We can’t see the future. We do have a general idea about what we believe is probable or likely. Our feelings about the future are shaped accordingly. Sometimes we conclude a positive outcome isn’t likely. This conclusion fills us with dread.
It’s not all bad news. Anxiety can be instrumental in motivating us in ways to reach a positive outcome. It can help us prepare for the future. It can help us pay attention to what’s important. It can help protect us by making us feel in danger and can keep us safe. It can help us in relationships by fostering communication about important matters.
Simply put, the power of anxiety can save us from being and appearing to others to be oblivious to our environment and circumstances.
Maybe rather than anxiety reduction, a better goal is anxiety management.
The trouble with anxiety happens when we’re past the point of getting the message. We’re focused on the message and not the action the message demands. Focusing on the message can be key to anxiety reduction.
We need to have strategies for anxiety reduction. For one reason or another, the soothing mechanism may be missing or becomes diminished in our nature.
Yet there is a self-soothing characteristic of certain dreams. Perhaps our conscious mind can redirect our subconscious to help us diminish anxiety.
Self-help for anxiety reduction
The next time you’re feeling anxious about something, try reducing the anxiety with free-flowing dream logic.
Now, if you’re feeling anxious about money, I’d be as surprised as the next person if it started raining quarters, nickels, and dimes. But what if you think of that? Think of how it would feel, about how fun it would be. Dwelling on a bizarre climactic event like that can help break an anxiety cycle.
Imagine finding money stuck up on the ceiling and wondering how you’re going to get it down. Imagine there’s a step stool you can get to, and you put it under the 20 and 100-dollar-bills.
Finally, if you dream you reach into your pocket and pull out a roll of fifties you forgot about, that’s great.
Your dream journal may be the key to reducing anxiety
Look in your dream journal. You know how bizarre, fun, and illogical dreams are. Maybe this self-soothing mechanism is missing from yours? Maybe you can do something to get the process started.
Studies, where people were interrupted every time they were getting into the deeper stages of REM, show the process is essential to mental health. We know dreaming is a necessary, but we don’t fully know why we have to dream. This tendency of dream groupings where we soothe anxieties in different ways could be a vital part of maintaining our mental health when it comes to anxiety.
Other self-help actions for anxiety reduction
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr composed this short prayer known as “The Serenity Prayer.”
It’s a good group of thoughts to hold in mind when putting anxiety and worry in its place.
It’s also worth offering the things you feel powerless about up to God.
Don’t be a hostage to anxiety. You can feel more in control. The key to doing that is to get your emotions under control. Try meeting your out-of-control feelings with dream logic. Imagine an unrealistic outcome, and a good, positive, realistic outcome can materialize.
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Updated Feb. 19, 2022