It's no fun to live with stress and anxiety. But despite your best efforts to deal with these emotions, they can find a way back into your life and even into your dreams. You might not know how to process the worries, but your body does. Often, when you're concerned about something that will manifest itself in your dreams.
Have you ever had a recurring dream about your teeth falling out? Or being chased by an animal? These dreams may seem strange, but they actually reveal what's troubling you deep within your unconscious.
“Recurring dreams and nightmares happen because your subconscious is trying to get your attention,” Layne Dalfen, founder of the Dream Interpretation Center in Montreal, told Forbes. “You may not even realize what’s bugging you.”
Your brain processes emotions and life events when you're asleep to help you better deal with things going on in your waking life.
"Your brain is working differently when you're in a dream state," professional dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg told Mic. "You're not thinking in words; you're thinking in symbols and metaphors. That's the cool thing about the way dreams work: They allow you to see your current situation and your behavior in a different light, so you can better understand it." And by understanding it, you have more control over the situation. Dreams are not meant to scare you: They're meant to help you.
Interpreting dreams is highly subjective, but here are five of the most common anxiety dreams and what they mean.
1. Teeth falling out
There are many variations of this dream. You might dream about having broken teeth or crumbling teeth. Or you might dream about pulling your teeth out.
Sigmund Freud theorized that this kind of dream reveals anxiety about sexual repression and the desire to be nurtured. The dream may also happen when you're on the cusp of transition and change.
But Freud's isn't the only theory about this kind of dream. Carl Jung and other dream interpreters believed that it could be a symbol for renewal in a person's life.
2. Getting chased
This dream may be telling you "that you're avoiding an issue or a person," Richard Nicoletti, a psychotherapist trained at the Jung Institute in Boston, told The Huffington Post.
But it depends on who or what is chasing you. Depending on that, the meaning of the dream will vary. For example, If an animal is after you (rather than a human), it can symbolize bottled up or unexpressed anger, which is being projected onto that animal, or that you're running away from fear.
Whether you're falling through the sky or through water, this dream often signifies a lack of control, insecurity, and a lack of support in your life. If you dream yourself falling backwards, it may indicate that you may have saved yourself from making a mistake or that you are not ready to move forward and should rethink your next move.
Cathleen O'Connor, Ph.D. wrote the book "The Everything Law of Attraction Dream Dictionary." In 2011 she spoke to The Huffington Post about falling dreams. The Huffington Post writes that falling dreams could symbolize a "situation in her waking life where she feels out of control or where things are quite literally going quickly downhill."
4. Running late
This type of dream can have two meanings. First, it can symbolize that you're finding it difficult to live up to your own demands or the demands of others. As you're forced to take on more responsibilities, the pressure to do well grows. But when the pressure gets to be too much, you can dream that you are late or that you are about to be late, which signifies a battle to achieve more than we can actually handle.
If you're having reoccurring dreams of being late to work, author of "Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life," Lauri Loewenberg, told Forbes that this is "a really good indication that you feel like you’re missing out on an opportunity or what you really want in your career."
5. Being naked in public
The dream usually involves you scrambling to cover yourself up. Despite your best efforts to conceal yourself, you still feel exposed to the people around you. Translation?
"When you dream about being naked in public, it indicates that there is a particular situation in your day-to-day life that is making you feel vulnerable and exposed," psychologist and media dream expert Ian Wallace wrote on his website. This is often symbolic of a place where you're uncomfortable and lack confidence in your abilities.