What do your stress-related dreams mean?


Maria Cruz

You’re strolling down the street on a warm summer day. You wave hello to friendly strangers as they pass you by. You’re merrily strolling through a cliché scene in the sunshine—and suddenly your sandal catches a crack in the sidewalk. You start to fall, ready to face-plant at any second. But you keep falling, falling, falling. The sidewalk comes closer and closer. You prepare your body for the pain it’s about to experience—but then you’re jolted awake. Ever wonder what falling down in a dream means? These dreams are extremely common, and many theories have been offered as to why. One of the more popular and trusted theories actually comes from Cathleen O’Conner, an author and PhD. Her theory is that “falling is the mind’s symbolic way of alerting the dreamer to a situation in her waking life where she feels out of control or where things are quite literally going quickly downhill”.

End of times

Maria Cruz

You’re surrounded by rusted cars and empty streets. Smoke billows from deserted buildings and those creepy hobblers from The Walking Dead hobble towards you. It’s the end of times and you never learned how to wield a weapon. Whether your version of apocalypse includes drooling zombies or not, dreaming about it usually isn’t a good thing. Some theorists believe that dreaming of the apocalypse is caused by stress and anxiety stemming from the fear of change. It is also thought that dreams of apocalypse are due to how we see many things as the “end of the world”, even if it’s only a (relatively minor) loss of a friendship, a breakup, or, of course, the dreaded midterms. Dreaming of being caught in a zombie apocalypse or having your house ripped apart by a tornado could mean that you’re incredibly stressed by something happening in your life. This time of year, it’s probably the midterms.

Faulty brakes

Carine Abouseif

You’re driving along the road back to your house. It’s quiet and there isn’t much traffic. You’re tired and ready to plop down on the couch and watch some TV. You tap the breaks lightly as you get ready to turn the corner, but the car won’t slow down. You jolt your foot down, but the car seems to be moving even faster. You swerve to avoid a cyclist, but are about to crash into a tree. Suddenly you swerve off the side off the road… Why won’t your car stop? Dreaming that you’re behind the wheel of an out-of-control car is another stress-related dream, some theorists say. They say this dream indicates feelings of lack of control over things. For example, you could be thinking about a specific situtation in the past you feel you didn’t handle as confidently as you wanted to. Others theorists say this dream indicates that the dreamer feels like his or her life is literally out of control.

Losing teeth

Carine Abouseif

You’re hanging out with friends and someone’s about to take a picture. You flash your best smile, hoping this picture won’t end up on Facebook. The photographer lowers her camera. “Hey,” she says, “what’s wrong with your teeth?” You trace your gums with your fingers and find an empty spot where your front teeth should be. You feel around with your tongue and find one, two, three more empty spots. You wake up with your hands over your mouth and dash to your bathroom mirror to make sure all your teeth are fine. One theory about this recurring dream is that you’re simply worried about your personal appearance. But other theorists hold that it isn’t just about your physical appearance; apparently, dreaming about losing your teeth—whether they’re falling out, crumbling, or just plain missing—could have to do with feelings of inferiority or a lack of self-confidence.

Missed deadline

Carine Abouseif

You’re late! How could you be late? You set like six alarms and asked a friend to give you a wakeup call! You sprint past the herd lagging around the CCIT Building. You finally make it to the room where your lecture happens every Monday, but you don’t recognize any of the faces in the room. You certainly don’t recognize the prof. Dreaming about being late for a test or to hand in an assignment is pretty common. Sometimes it feels so real that you wake up wondering whether it actually happened. Dream theorists believe these nightmares don’t have much to do with the tests or assignments themselves. They have more to do with obligations you were supposed to complete or stress about life in general. Dream websites associate this type of dream with intimidating questions like “Where is my life going?” and “Am I running out of time to do all the things I wanted to?”

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