Waking up from a dream about tornadoes is stressful, to say the least. Whether you dreamt about a twister in the distance, saw yourself in the aftermath, or were literally swirling through the air, the hazardous form of inclement weather certainly makes for a scary slumber.
Of course, sometimes you’re able to simply shake off a bad dream and move on with your day. But if experiencing a cyclone as you snooze is something you want to get to the bottom of, journaling can help. “Make sure not to go directly to your phone or hop out of bed,” Jesse Lyon, LMHC, a dream interpreter and hypnotherapist, tells Bustle, explaining that doing so will cause you to forget what happened. “Instead, take a few minutes and explore your memories and feelings,” he says. This can help answer what tornado dreams mean and why you keep having them.
When you journal, try to remember as many details about your dream as you can, like who was with you, what you saw, and how you felt. “All aspects of a dream have meaning, so pay attention to the emotion and symbolism,” says Lyons.
The cool thing about dreams is that they offer a glimpse into your subconscious. “They bring to your awareness problems and solutions that are repressed and hidden when you are awake,” Lyon explains. “By writing them down, your dreams will show you problems that you are ignoring and allow you to picture possible solutions.” Keep reading for a few explanations for your tornado dreams.
You Feel Need To Make A Change
Since tornadoes destroy everything they come in contact with, dream expert Athena Laz says dreams about them could represent your unacknowledged desire to carve a new path for yourself.
If you’re timid in your waking life, a tornado may blow through your dream to tear down the structures that are holding you back, Laz explains. Once you realize this, you might start to see the benefit of stepping outside of your current comfort zone, possibly by speaking your mind, making a change, or standing up for yourself.
As you journal, consider how the symbolism might apply to you. As Laz says, “A dream message will be as unique as every dreamer dreaming of the same symbol — in this case, the tornado.”
You’re Stressed About A Major Decision
Another possible interpretation could be the way tornadoes and destruction relate to decision-making. “A dreamer could be debating a move between two different cities, and so one night they have a tornado dream that rips through the one potential city that they are debating,” Laz says of one example. “That’s a clear message that the move, in that case, will feel — and even be — difficult for the dreamer, should they choose that destination.”
You Feel Out Of Control
According to Laz, tornadoes also represent a “whirlwind of emotion,” which makes a lot of sense since they spiral and circle in an unpredictable way. In this scenario, she says to consider whether or not you feel at the mercy of an external, powerful force in your life — aka a figurative tornado.
“When you dream journal you have a reference point as to how and when tornadoes tend to appear in your dreams,” Laz says. “Over a period of time, you may notice striking triggers.” And you can eventually put two and two together, like how you dream about tornadoes every time you see a particular friend or family member, for instance.
It could be a sign you need to put up some better boundaries, says Laz. “Or maybe you need to literally remove yourself from the situation lest you get ‘taken out,’ or that you need to ‘face the storm’ so that it doesn’t gain further momentum,” she tells Bustle.
You Have Underlying Anxiety
Daytime anxiety can also trigger a tornado dream. “Dreams about tornadoes usually signal worry, anxiety, and stress or that you’re feeling overwhelmed and out of control — think spinning out of control,” Dr. Holly Schiff, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. “Tornadoes are strong, destructive forces, which can be associated with turbulent emotions in life or things that you are worried about.”
If you keep having stress dreams, it could be a sign that this inner emotional distress or turmoil is gaining significant (and potentially devastating) momentum, Laz says, and that it needs to be addressed ASAP. That’s when therapy can come in handy. Bring it up at your next appointment, or schedule a time to chat with a professional, and see what they have to say.
You Need To Strike A Better Balance In Life
Laz says tornadoes represent the connection between earth and air. So if you keep dreaming about them, consider if you’d benefit from bringing your mind and spirit (represented by the clouds) and your body (represented by the earth) into a healthier equilibrium.
Think about where the storm is taking place as well as your role within the dream. “The intensity of the experience, in this case, the variations of the tornado, relates a message of timing,” Laz says. “If you’re attempting to get out of the way of the tornado, you’re already in it. So look to see what is making you feel like you are facing a storm in your life.”
If you see the tornado from afar, that’s going to be way less scary. And that’s a good thing. It means you’re at a safer distance away from whatever is bugging you. Consider it a message, though, that you need to address the issue now before it gets out of hand.
How To Stop Having Tornado Dreams
While you may want to stop having this type of dream, it’s ultimately better to accept that it’s happening and consider what it’s trying to tell you.
“What is so wonderful about dreaming is that we are shown what we need, and sometimes what we need is a tornado dream to kick us into gear so that we can actually do something better in our waking lives,” Laz says. “If you are having repetitive dreams, look to see what repetitive beliefs and actions in your life need altering.”
From there you can make changes, such as putting up boundaries with people who drain you, finally making a big decision, or attending therapy to work through stress and anxiety. Once you’ve listened to the message of the dream, it should stop feeling like such an intense whirlwind.
Edwards, C. L., Ruby, P. M., Malinowski, J. E., Bennett, P. D., & Blagrove, M. T. (2013). Dreaming and insight. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 979. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00979.
Nadorff MR, Porter B, Rhoades HM, Greisinger AJ, Kunik ME, Stanley MA. Bad dream frequency in older adults with generalized anxiety disorder: prevalence, correlates, and effect of cognitive behavioral treatment for anxiety. Behav Sleep Med. 2014;12(1):28-40. doi: 10.1080/15402002.2012.755125. Epub 2013 Mar 7. PMID: 23470116; PMCID: PMC3690155.
Jesse Lyon, MS, CHt, LMHC, dream interpreter and hypnotherapist
Athena Laz, dream expert
Dr. Holly Schiff, licensed clinical psychologist