Has anyone else been experiencing more vivid, unusual dreams since the pandemic started? I don't seem to be alone in this, judging by an article from the first lockdown The pandemic is giving people vivid, unusual dreams. Here’s why. (nationalgeographic.com)
I keep having a recurring dream where I find myself in a crowd of people (in one dream at a night club - I've never gone to night clubs at the best of times!), and I suddenly realise that neither I, nor anybody else there is wearing a mask, and I don't even have one with me. I'm hit with a mixture of guilt and panic - why on earth am I there, ignoring social distancing rules, and how could I forget my mask? I have a mask in every handbag, even in my running bag! I'm never without a mask and hand sanitizer! I realise that I've got to get out of there, and fast, but of course this is where the dream descends into another of my normal recurring dreams, where I realise that I'm lost and start running up and down corridors, along streets and alleyways, climbing up rocks and ladders, attempting to find my way back to something familiar. I always wake up while I'm still searching, with a huge jolt of relief. The other thing with my dreams now is that they generally feel completely real, whereas in the past I've quite often been aware that I'm dreaming - "Oh, I don't really need to worry, this is just a dream........!" Now there's rarely any of that reassurance.
Now, I think I'm generally coping pretty well with the current situation - despite the impact it's had on my life. I remain optimistic, very grateful that I'm so much luckier than so very many people out there. I look after my physical and mental wellbeing by practising what I preach - exercise, whether a workout at home, or going for a socially distanced walk or run. I talk to other people, virtually, or a 1:1 walk, so that we can express our anxieties, hopes, fears, find humour in as much of life as possible, and support each other. So, I think I'm doing ok - but there's obviously some stress in there that's coming out in my dreams. Luckily, they generally fade quite quickly with the relief that I haven't done anything wrong, I haven't put myself or anybody else at risk. Sometimes dreams can influence our feelings right into the day, though, and the feelings can persist. I recall being unable to shake my annoyance with somebody for an entire day after they'd done something hurtful in my dream, despite rationally understanding that they hadn't actually done anything wrong! This is when we need strategies to help us readjust our thoughts and emotions - and again, of course, I'm going to suggest exercise and talking. Getting outside for some physical activity has the benefits of improving physical fitness, but also acts as a distraction. You become aware of your surroundings, how your body feels, and being outside can definitely lift your mood. If you can't get outside, then either exercise at home, or talk to somebody who you know always helps you feel more positive. If you can bring some humour into your day, then even better - laughter is a wonderful medicine! And as long as I keep on staying at home as much as possible, maintaining social distancing when I do go out, and wearing my mask whenever I need to, then however often I might dream to the contrary, I know I'm doing my bit to help keep us all safe and well! Stay safe, sleep well, and sweet dreams!