Graphic by Dakota Cox

COVID-19 pandemic seeps into our dreams

The unprecedented and life-altering pandemic is affecting our dream state
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The unprecedented and life-altering pandemic is affecting our dream state

Dreaming is the psychological phenomenon of our minds that creates vivid images as we descend into a deep sleep.

Humans are hyperactive and social creatures. When we’re not participating in daily activities, our minds enter states of depression, stress, boredom and now more than ever, paranoia.

The pandemic’s effect on our lives has certainly altered our psyche, undeniably impacting the way we think and the contents of our dreams.

HSU senior majoring in journalism Alexis Valtenbergs has had multiple bizarre and lasting dreams since the shelter in place began. Her most notable dream involved catching COVID-19 and experiencing symptoms in the dream.

“I almost had an anxiety attack the first time I woke up like that,” Valtenbergs said. “I was convinced, thanks to the paranoia, that I had COVID, that it would kill me.”

Valtenbergs found entering a good headspace before bed made a significant impact on her dreams throughout this time in quarantine. Meditation and muscle relaxation exercises before bed does the trick for her.

Valtenbergs has had her share of great dreams since quarantine began and believes that dreaming is a wonderful thing that can open our minds to things we haven’t noticed before.

“There is symbolism in dreams, something that symbolizes what you are going through.” Valtenbergs said. “I’ve had amazing dreams that I didn’t want to escape from.”

Kashan Fields, an Arcata local, hasn’t had too many wild dreaming experiences, but has had trouble sleeping since quarantine began.

“Ever since COVID, I have been getting less sleep honestly,” Fields said. “I don’t even think I’ve been getting any deep sleep where I would have a good dream state.”

Fields said the amount of stress that many are facing today is because of COVID-19. With learning online as well as navigating a global pandemic, people are facing a lot. Fields said stress has caused negative effects when it comes to his sleep schedule but, taking time to work on certain things that need to be done can help reduce that stress.

“It’s usually some type of stress that you’re usually not resolving for the most part,” Fields said. “If you just look at your life and see what you need to tend to, trying to find a way to manifest that can help build a positive headspace. Usually one way to manifest is in a dream.”

To help understand the act of dreaming, philosophy professor Mary Bockover explains the beauty and overall mystery of these illusions. She believes dreams are a part of who we are and that in a way they’re full embodied experiences. Dreams can cause us to imagine the impossible and create alternate realities that we may never find answers to.

“When it comes to interpreting the significance of our dreams, we can speculate, develop theories and use our own experience and intuitions as a guide,” Bockover said. “But to know for sure what they mean seems out of our grasp. That’s part of the beauty about dreaming.”

Bockover recognizes the global pandemic has affected us all in more ways than one. Being stuck in lockdown has thrown off our schedules significantly. Not having daily routines can force our minds to speculate or conjure up scenarios without even realizing until we have fallen asleep.

Although times may be tough at the moment and our minds dealing with a lot, they are still able to produce a phenomenon that cannot be explained and help us develop interesting ways of looking into our own lives.

“Dreams allow us to confront a part of ourselves that is a mystery to us and that informs us that we are part of something larger,” Bockover said. “Something beyond the self that is also a part of the self.”

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