What Your Vivid Dreams Mean & How They Can Help You In Stressful Times

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What Vivid Dreams Mean & How Stress Dreams Can Help You

You may have noticed during this pandemic that you're remembering your dreams more often. People describe having vivid dreams now more than ever. That may be because you are getting more sleep than usual and that you are waking up naturally, rather than to the alarm clock. 

Or, it could be because you're experiencing "stress dreams" without realizing it.

If you're working from home and don’t have to rush off to work, you have more time to notice the dream images and stories that may be there when you wake up.

RELATED: Why Dreams & Nightmares Are So Vivid During The Coronavirus Pandemic

During periods of stress, dreams tend to be more vivid and disturbing.

As Science Alert points out, it is not surprising that during the pandemic “...more dreams containing fear, embarrassment, social taboos, occupational stress, grief and loss, unreachable family, as well as more literal dreams around contamination and disease are being recorded.”

Your dreams contain symbolism.

Dream symbols exist at three different levels: Personal, cultural, and universal. Thus, there are several possible meanings for every dream symbol. 

Dream dictionaries can give you some ideas about what a particular symbol may mean, but no two dreamers will derive the exact same meaning for any symbol. Water, for example, may be comforting to one person but to someone who has nearly drowned, it may be frightening.

Dreams speak to you in metaphors.

So during the “lockdown,” you may dream of being “locked up.” You might dream that you're being dragged into a building and aren't able to leave.

You'll feel trapped, disempowered, and confused, as many people have felt lately.

Bicycles also represent movement and freedom. Many more people are riding bikes now during the pandemic, and they're showing up frequently in their dreams. One dreamer reported dreaming of taking her bike to the store to be fixed, and was told she would have to leave it there.

She felt sad at the end of the dream, which reflected her feeling guilty about not exercising and frustrated about not getting more help.

These dreams are also expressing feelings of grief and loss.

Many symbols of loss are common in dreams. You've likely been missing your family and friends that are unavailable to you now or who have passed away.

How can you work with your vivid dreams?

You have your own individual dream symbols and language devised by your subconscious to tell you stories that have special meaning to you.

Dreams are valuable experiences, and like an anthropologist exploring a unique culture, you can observe them, learn from them, share them, and enjoy them.

Here are some tips for how to do that for yourself.

Recall and record your dreams.

To maximize your chances of remembering a dream, keep your eyes closed when you wake up and don’t think about what you have to do that day.

Just lie still and notice any images or dream stories that come to mind. Now reach for a notebook or dream journal and write down the date at the top of the page.

Then begin writing down your dream in the first person, present tense, as if it were happening now. This will make the dream images and details come to life.

Circle or underline the keywords.

Mark such things as characters, objects, places, colors, directions, and so on. This will help you when working on various associations to parts of the dream.

RELATED: What It Means When You Dream About Cats (Or See One)

Underline the feelings.

Pay attention to particularly emotional parts of the dream that came up for you either during the dream or while writing it down. These emotions are an important key to the meaning of your dream.

Title your dream.

Go back to the top of the page and give your dream a title. Choose something that captures some key elements of the dream — a major character, object, feeling, or message.

For example, the bike dream could be entitled, “Bike Repair.” Or the dream about being trapped could be called, “Absconded and Trapped Somewhat,” which helps you realize you're not really feeling in danger and was actually just “somewhat concerned."

This will make you feel much more confident and relaxed.

Make note of the "five W’s."

Like a journalist, identify the five W’s of the dream: the Who, What, Where, When, and Why. This will help you identify the important aspects of the dream to analyze.

A key element to understanding your dream is looking at "why now?" Ask yourself why you're having this dream at this particular time.

Associations to the pandemic will likely be there, along with other events that occurred the day before. They will be important clues to the meaning of your dream and its symbols.

Expand and play with your vivid dreams.

There are several things you can do with dreamwork and to enhance your dream life.

  • Get messages from the characters and objects in the dream
  • Have the various parts of your dream “talk to you” and give you their advice. Like the “Somewhat Trapped” dreamer, you may get a whole different perspective on your life.
  • Change the dream

Once you have received the messages you need from your dream, you might want to change or finish the dream in a new way. This is especially helpful for recurring nightmares that may no longer reoccur once the feelings are addressed.

Share your dream.

Share your dreams with those you trust and care about. It's a gift to them and also to yourself. You may now have more time in the mornings to share your dreams with partners and family members.

It's a wonderful way to share an intimate part of yourself and your life. You may even have an experience of “co-dreaming” where you notice you're having similar dreams, or actually plan the night before to dream about the same thing.

Discussing and sharing dreams with your children has many advantages for them and yourself. This will help them to welcome and not fear their dreams. Drawing dreams or acting them out together is an enjoyable way to engage children in dream exploration and to have some fun yourself.

This is a great time to pay attention to your dreams and learn from them. There are no “bad dreams,” only misunderstood and scary dreams. They all have something important to tell you, especially at this challenging time in our lives.

RELATED: What Do Your Weird Coronavirus Dreams Mean?

Phyllis Koch-Sheras and Peter Sheras are clinical psychologists and authors who specialize in working with couples for building healthy, lasting relationships. For more information about how they can help you, visit their website. or read one of their dream books: The Dream Sourcebook and The Dream Sharing Sourcebook.

This article was originally published at Couple Power. Reprinted with permission from the author.