As if your waking hours weren’t stressful enough as of late, what with economic uncertainty and distressing news at all hours, you may well also be experiencing extra-vivid dreams and nightmares these days. Sometimes these vivid dreams are easy to write off (like, I don’t feel the need to deeply examine my dream of the world running out of mac and cheese, because I know that’s just a reflection of my worst living nightmare). But other times, you may wake up wondering “wow, where the hell did that come from?” Well, in a sickly comforting kind of way, you may be happy to know that a number of common stress dreams are haunting the REM time of many.
What are these common stress dreams, why are you getting them, and what do they mean? All are valid questions you may well be wondering. Below, Lauri Loewenberg, dream analyst and author of Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life, unpacks the meaning of these stress dreams and shares what you can do to stop them from replaying.
What 4 common stress dreams actually mean, according to a dream analyst
“Bugs have been really common in dreams lately because of this pandemic—bug infestations, being bitten by a bug, bugs coming out of different orifices of the body” says Loewenberg. “It reflects the fear of catching the virus. We tend to refer to viruses as a bug.”
“Bugs have been really common in dreams lately because of this pandemic. It reflects the fear of catching the virus. We tend to refer to viruses as a bug.” —Lauri Loewenberg, dream analyst
She adds that we may also dream of insects when something or someone is really “bugging” us. And that also checks; quarantining can bring out our more irritable side, wherein many things are bugging us that might not normally.
What to do about it? Lean toward positivity.
“In order to keep yourself from bugging out over fear of catching the virus or annoyance with your family, start counting blessings,” says Loewenberg. “You are safe, you have food, you have Netflix. Yes, it’s annoying how your partner spreads his peanut butter but…you have a partner, and you have peanut butter.”
2. Tidal wave
Tidal waves are about being swept away by our high-climbing responsibilities, Loewenberg says. While some of us are indeed granted the gift of time, others are juggling more tasks than ever, making these tidal waves a common feature of stress dreams for the overloaded worker in isolation.
What to do about it? Try to delegate some responsibilities.
Try to get groceries delivered instead of making the anxiety-spiking trip to the store. And try to keep laughter present in your life, because lightness can help make the crushing and crashing world a little bit less difficult to take day by day.
We typically dream of fire when we’re getting hotheaded about something, or are dealing with an urgent situation that needs to be extinguished. It can also be a warning that we’re on the verge of burnout, but Loewenberg posits a different reason fire dreams are spreading during these pandemic times.
“I’ve noticed fire dreams are becoming more and more frequent since the pandemic started,” says Loewenberg. “I think the consuming nature of fire is the reason; a fire consumes everything it touches, and this pandemic is all-consuming. It’s on the news 24/7, our social media feeds are filled with posts about it, and it has changed the way we shop and live. In addition, fire spreads, just as this virus spreads. It’s scary, but it makes sense that the subconscious would give this virus the form of fire.”
What to do about it? Redirect your worries, and claim fresh-start energy with something enjoyable.
“This is a good time to find distractions: Find a new show to binge-watch, a great book to get lost in, new recipes to try,” says Loewenberg.
In dreams, weather is usually connected to your emotions, and tornadoes represent the chaos of worries that are spinning out of control, says Loewenberg. So if you’re watching a tornado in your dream, it’s likely emblematic of the veritable storm of emotions and concerns plaguing your day-to-day life, making even pleasurable tasks, like making your bread starter, feel unbearable.
What to do about it? Channel your concerns head on.
Keep a worry journal beside your bed, so you can purge thoughts from your mind. Then, hopefully, you can enjoy some sweet, sweet dreams about a world where you’re finally able to go to the grocery store unmasked.
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