Nightmares, and nightmare reduction:
Many survivors experience frequent or disturbing nightmares as a result of their abuse. Nightmares serve two purposes: our subconscious mind can process the horrors we’ve experienced in a “safe” setting, and it can also continue to feed hypervigilance during waking hours. Dreams give us the ability to revisit the abuse, in a setting which is physically safe. This can help us unlock feelings about our abuse which we have repressed or not yet identified. For survivors who experience hypervigilance (a heightened sense of awareness or fear about your surroundings), nightmares can also feed the cycle of fear leading to hypervigilance.
For whatever reasons we have nightmares, frequent or horrific nightmares can leave us drained, dissociated, and hypervigilant. There is a method (which has no official name) which can help reduce both the frequency and intensity of nightmares. Along with your other methods of processing/healing (talk therapy, counseling, medication, exercise, meditation, etc.), it can help to reduce your stress during waking hours, and help you have more energy to face the cycles of processing after abuse or rape.
Below the cut will be a brief description of the method, for those who haven’t heard of it: ( Nightmare reductionCollapse )
This week’s Questions:
- Do you have nightmares relating to your abuse? Did you have an increase in nightmare frequency or intensity after your abuse?
- What type of nightmare do you tend to have the most? Being attacked, overall anxiety, gory, feeling stalked, etc.?
In relation to the method for reducing nightmares:
- What types of activities could you avoid in the hour before bed? What activities do you consider non-triggering, that you enjoy, that you could start doing before bed?
- What focused soothing could you do in the 15 minutes before you go to sleep?
- What smell is the most comforting? What is your favorite happy memory – and is there a smell which reminds you of that memory? What object is instantly soothing for you to have nearby?
- Based on what type of nightmare you tend to have, what are some ways in which you could re-write those nightmares?