Let’s talk about dreams. To be clear (and this is mostly directed at my chatty mother): I don’t want to hear about your specific dreams, nor do I think that you want to really hear about mine. The details about your dreams are like the details about your workout -- mostly uninteresting to everybody except yourself.
That said, if you have been waking up most mornings these days thinking “WTF” about your wackadoo dream, you are not alone. The New York Times reports a quadruple leap in google searches for ““why am i having weird dreams lately.” Sounds like for most of us, even our sleeping life has been turned upside down.
In a shocking plot twist, it seems that an international pandemic and quarantine isn’t having a positive effect on our dreams. Often an outlet for our anxiety or a more surreal approximation of issues and circumstances we are addressing in real life, it is perhaps not surprising that there seems to be an uptick in covid-related dreams. There’s even a Harvard psychologist and dream expert conducting a survey about it. We are having weird dreams because, well, everything is weird.
The What Do They Mean
While the meaning of dreams might be obvious -- a fear of getting sick might mean, quite literally, that you are afraid of getting sick, there are also common patterns and symbolism that show up in many of our dreams. There are resources, including the Dream Decoder Deck, that can help unpack what your nocturnal guest stars are telling you. Fun fact? If you are dreaming about your teeth falling out, it probably doesn’t mean you need to up your dental hygiene game.
The What To Do About Them
While there are things you can do while you are awake to keep the bad dreams in check -- daily exercise, fresh air when you can (safely) get it, and pressing pause on reading the news at night -- there is actually a really cool psychological technique referred to as “dream incubation” that can help you program your bad and anxious dreams and turn them into an opportunity to problem solve. (Link to one of the major studies, but bottom line: actively naming a personal problem you want to solve prior to sleep and writing down the dreams for analysis can lead to a solution.)
Smudging Your Dreams
Luigi and I are big fans of mixing the pragmatic with the mystical in order to create positive and meaningful life routines, and I’ve found that applying a dose of our practical magic to dreams has been super helpful in giving them a much-needed cleanse.
Here’s the dreamy ritual I’ve been doing to keep the nightmares at a minimum:
- Pick your power: Choose your favorite mindful crystals. I often call on clear quartz, rainbow fluorite, or sodalite when I need to work through a problem. (Here are some collections we have that can help you build up your own crystal library.)
- Prepare for morning: Put a piece of paper and pen near your bed for easy access.
- Set you dream goals: During the half hour or so before you want to fall asleep, spend some uninterrupted time setting an intention to dream about a specific question you have or a problem you intend to solve -- my most recent question was “how do I make homeschooling with my kids less stressful?” You can write this question down, but it is also okay to simply focus on this question and actively tell yourself that you will work towards a solution to this problem.
- Mindful memories: When you wake up, before even getting out of bed, give yourself five minutes of quiet, mindful breathing followed by a few minutes to write down any recollections you have of your dream, even if it doesn’t seem coherent or related to your problem.
- Sleep and repeat: Keep at it. For me, it usually takes a few nights of “sleeping on it” to start seeing the answer. This is when a decoding tool can be helpful, too. I kept dreaming about floating. I realized I was craving some independence from the school curriculum and needed to adjust to incorporate some flexible playtime and relaxation time into the day.
Once your dreams have surfaced a potential solution, start working on some action items that can manifest that solution into a reality. (Lunchtime and afternoon nature walks for the win in my case!) Need some help on figuring out what crystals might come in handy? Check in with us on Instagram @smudgewellness and we'll send you our recs.