What are your stress dreams?

Not a stressful river

There are certain dreams I frequently have when I’m stressed. They probably say something deep (and not very flattering) about my psyche.

Perhaps weirdly, they’re not about the most calamitous events–in the scheme of things they’re closer to laughable–but that doesn’t stop them being terribly stressful to live (or dream) through.

Stress dream 1: My teeth are falling out

A subconscious part of me seems to have decided that my teeth breaking, rotting, and/or falling out is the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. (I guess it has no imagination.)

Sure, teeth are pretty useful, assuming you like to eat and don’t subsist on those disgusting vegetable smoothies. But losing a tooth is hardly the end of the world.

I hear dentists can even give you new teeth these days.

If I got new teeth I’d want vampire fangs, because then I’d have half a Halloween costume without even trying. Plus I could bite holes in my own lip. Always a bonus.

Stress dream 2: Exams

Trees and stuff, not dreamsIt’s been a while since I was last studying, so I don’t have these dreams so often any more, but a common stress dream of mine used to be that I was rushing to an exam.

It was never just an exam. It was always an exam with an extra stress factor. Sometimes I was running late for the exam and I didn’t know what room it was in. Other times it was an exam for a course I’d forgotten I was taking, and I hadn’t been to a class all year.

If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m pathologically early for everything. I’m the kind of person who gets to the airport an hour and a half before a domestic flight just in case.

I’ve never been late for an exam, or even close, and I always double check the room a dozen times. Except in dreams.

As for signing up for a course and forgetting to go–who does that? Okay, maybe some people do, but they probably don’t remember they’re taking the course just in time for the exam. Or, if they do, I’m sure they don’t sit the exam.

Stupid brain.

For some reason, the course I forget to go to is always advanced chemistry. I never took advanced chemistry. Maybe I should have.

Sometimes I wonder what it says about me that exams are one of the most stressful things in my life. I really cared about doing well at study? Or I hated the jerks in my class and wanted to cream them.

Stress dream 3: Packing for tramping

Note for Americans: By “tramping” I mean multi-day hiking, not whatever dirty thing you were thinking of.

Hills, not dreams

My other nightmare is that I’m just about to leave for a tramping trip and I haven’t finished packing. Stressful, right?

Someone, usually my sister, is running around saying, “Come on, we have to go right now,” and I’m standing in the living room with gear scattered everywhere, too overwhelmed to do anything. And the cat’s probably skulking in my pack.

If you’ve never done it, packing for tramping is somewhat more important than packing for regular travel. With regular travel, if you forget something you can buy a replacement when you get there (unless it’s your passport–then you’re in deep muck).

With tramping, if you forget something important you could find yourself several days from civilisation in freezing cold torrential rain without a waterproof jacket.

If you enjoy having a heartbeat, I don’t recommend this.

This is why I have a packing list for tramping (technically, I have several, but let’s not complicate matters)–I prefer not to end up in some remote stretch of bush lacking a jacket… or toilet paper.

You might argue a list is overly organised (to use the polite word), in which case I definitely won’t tell you that it’s a conditional list that gives different gear to take depending on the expected conditions. Or that it lists the weights of all my equipment so I know what I’m trading off against what. If I were to tell you any of these things you might think I was weird.

But I’ve already told you I have stress nightmares about not having enough time to pack for tramping, so that bunny may already be out of the hutch.

And did I mention that I start packing at least a week in advance? So there’s no way I’m ever going to be in this stressful packing situation.

Fern, not a dream
This is a fern, not a dream.

All this goes to show that my subconscious should spend less time worrying about situations that are never going to arise, and more time thinking about situations that are actually possible. Like me accidentally turning up to give a presentation naked.

Do you have particular dreams when you’re stressed? Would you like to share?

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

14 thoughts on “What are your stress dreams?”

  1. I’ve had the teeth falling out dream. Only my whole body was rotting. Other two are interesting. Never had, or heard of those.

  2. I have the teeth dream and the exam dream. Or sometimes it’s just that I somehow find out I failed a class all those years ago and have to go back to high school as a 33 year old. Yikes!

    1. Haha, I’ve never had that one, but I agree – I would definitely not want to go back to high school now. It was bad enough at the time. 🙂

  3. I have those “I’m unprepared” dreams now and then. I have to give a speech or take a test or something awful. I love wakng up and realizing it was just a dream!

  4. I definitely have stress dreams, they usually involve high school or college. I am thirty years old, but I guess the stress of school has left an indelible mark on my mind. The other day I had a stress dream with clowns, so I much prefer the high school dream. Your careful planning before tramping sounds very clever. Does writing tend to give you more stress dreams? I know that it does for me!

    1. If only the people who made us go to school realised how it scars us for life! 🙂

      You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had a stress dream about writing. Probably because I’m not relying on writing to put food in the fridge (thankfully, or I’d be a lot skinnier). But I’d much rather have a writing stress dream than a clown one.

  5. I still have school dreams. Only instead of being late to an exam, I dream that I missed too many classes for whatever reason and now I’m on the brink of failing and not graduating. There is also a common theme of being gone for so long I can’t even find my class and can’t find anyone to help me. Now that I think about it, that actually makes a lot of sense. Haha.

    1. Haha – I bet after all this time they’ve moved some of your classes. No wonder you can’t find them. 🙂 Man, school messed so many of us up!

  6. Doesn’t everyone arrive an hour and a half ahead for a domestic flight? No? Okay.

    I don’t think I have a recurring stress dream – I have certain dreams when I’m sick, which are very weird (boulders rolling along thread that’s strung across a void, with needles balancing on it. I know. It’s when I’m REALLY sick). My stress dreams are usually anything a little out of control – the last one I had involved clockwork sharks, sinking ferries, and me turning to a companion to complain that the plot line was boring and we should have chosen to follow a different one.

    I think that’s quite enough insight into my psyche for one day. 😉

    1. Haha, your asleep mind is as crazy as your awake mind. Love it! I’m all for clockwork sharks (though not when my ferry is sinking). And you’re right, the plot line was boring. 😉

  7. I have stress dreams about exams too! Being late for an exam or having to give a presentation unprepared, or just the dreadful realization “oh no, I’m back in school”. Not fun. But on the plus side, waking up from those dreams is always a happy thing. 😀

    1. It’s weird, I almost never have stress dreams about presentations, and I have a lot more presentations than exams these days. The school thing seems to be a common theme. Evil school!

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