How your (nocturnal) dreams tell you that you are about to collapse from stress – and 4 stress dreams to look out for
Some time ago, I was contacted by Elizabeth. Through a period of several weeks, she kept having the same dream with small variations, and she wanted to understand why. This was her dream:
In the dream I see myself on a road, running really fast, heart beating immensely. I am being chased by somebody or something, and I am constantly trying not to look back at the person (or whatever it is?!) chasing me. At the same time I am also constantly trying to avoid falling into the ditch at the side of the road.
In the dream it seems as if I am trapped between these two evils; my pursuer catching up on me, or me falling into the ditch – witht the potential of both happening at the same time!
When Elizabeth (not her real name) contacted me it had been 10 years since she had had this dream, but since she had suddenly started thinking about the dream again, she wantend to know why she kept having it back then.
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In order to understand a dream like this, you always need to relate it to what is happening in your waking life. E.g. by asking; how might this dream, despite it’s seemingly strange language, illustrate something of high relevance to what is happening in my waking life?
I.e., with the dream that Elizabeth had she could ask herself (which I then helped her to); am I in any way feeling pursued (under pressure from something?) in waking life? And what might it mean to “fall into the roadside ditch” in waking life?
Elizabeth quite quickly realized why she’d had the dream those ten years ago. And this sudden “aha”-feeling, this deep sudden understanding of the dream, is what often happens when you shart tuning in on your dreams. In that period she had in fact collapsed from stress (in dream language, fallen into the roadside ditch), and the dream was a serious warning that this would happen if she didn’t change anything.
Our dreams (our sleeping intelligence) are fantastic in very many ways. One of them is their ability to warn us of an impending stress collapse (if you understand Danish, and have access to the newspaper Berlingske Tidende online, do read this article where I put words to this topic).
Prodromal dreams is the medical term for those of your dreams that portray the real condition of your body. In other words, these are dreams that convey to you whether you have become (seriously) ill. Whether your diet is destroying your body, or conversely, whether your body is healthy and strong (maybe in opposition to what you might be telling yourself).
And yes, prodromal dreams are those dreams that tell you whether you are about to collapse from stress.
Imagine it this way; see your dreams as the place in which mind and body communicates. This effectively means that it is in your dreams that you firsthand will be able to see if you are pushing yourself too hard, or whether you have become physically ill (which often goes together with mental imbalances, e.g. as a result from too much stress for too long).
Dreams are highly individual in their language. Just like stress is a very individual thing. Two people can have the exact same job with identical working conditions (same tasks, same boss, same colleagues etc.), but respond very differently to it.
And exactly what happens inside the person that is more stress prone in that situation is something the nocturnal dreams of that person can say something very direct about.
Despite the highly individual language of dreams, let me put words to some of the most well-known stress dreams, stress dreams you should react to.
Stress-dreams to look out for
(Again, if you understand Danish, please also watch this video posted on Berlingske Tidende – the videois not behind a paywall – in the video I also put words to these “classic” stress dreams).
1. Being pursued / chased – maybe by your boss or co-workers! Dreams of being pursued are in fact one of the most recalled dream themes.* If you continue dreaming of being pursued, this a dream you must take seriously; what is this dream telling me about my real life situation?
2. Driving your car at high speed and having no control of it! Also a big one when it comes to stress-related dreams. The dream could say exactly what it says; you are going at too high speed in life, and you’ve basically lost control (this btw. is my own stress-dream no. 1, and I know when I have this dream that it is time to once again make serious changes in the way I approach my life).
3. Exam dreams, or dreams of not having completed your degree (which you in fact did complete). Again, also a very common dream theme. A dream of being at an exam and maybe flunking, or just in general, the anxiety feeling connected to attending exams can be dream language for you experiencing your waking life situation as an exam.
A varition is a dream in which you haven’t yet completed your e.g. your college/university degree – despite you already having completed it (maybe even many years ago). This could portray a deep feeling of you not feeling that you don’t have what it takes (which is often not the truth, it is a feeling you have deep down at the moment).
4. Losing your teeth / teeth falling out. Everyday more than 40.000 people Google this dream theme (“dream interpretation losing teeth” or similar), which in fact makes it the most googled dream theme, and this is just in English! Fact is that this is a really big dream theme across cultures, and it is often a dream theme that is often association with going through a stressful period. A period in which you apparantly have “lost strenght” (imagine having to live your life without your teeth, originally it would kill us.
In general, your sleeping intelligence will always, every night in fact, inform you of how you are (really) doing. By paying attention to your dreams you often get to discover something of utmost importance to you that you wouldn’t otherwise discover.
Talks on proactive utilization of our sleeping intelligence for higher creativity and better thriving at your workplace or in your leadership network? www.michaelrolsen.com.