stressful dreams

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been having a reoccurring dream for the past two or three years that I am driving/at work/at school (always something important) and that I cannot see; I am never 100% blind but cant see well enough to function. Also I have a dream just as frequent that I am at work/ school/ driving and falling asleep and cant stop. Many time I wreck my car killing family members, flunk test, and perform badly at work (although I have not got fired yet). I’m a busy girl with three jobs and am a full time student. Scholastically speaking I’m at the top of my class and am a member of my schools honor program. I understand that these dreams could be a result of stress…BUT I cant stop them and I dont feel rested when I wake up I just feel more tired! ):

A: What you describe are anxiety dreams. You have put yourself under so much pressure that you are taking that anxiety into your sleep. Interestingly though, you are in the “driver’s seat” which suggests that you do feel like you have some control – even when you are headed to disaster. Your dreams are your way of telling yourself that you aren’t seeing clearly what you need to do and that you need to put the brakes on if you are to stay safe.

College is supposed to be about more than classes. It’s also a time to try new things, gather new experiences, and figure out relationships. Yes, being an honors student is a wonderful achievement. But not if it means that you are missing out on all the other important aspects of college life. Ask yourself, please, if your life would change for the better if you gave yourself permission to drop your GPA by a couple of tenths of a point. Then think about it. Both your life and your resume may in fact be better if you are also doing some things that give you some relaxation and time with friends. Grad schools and employers look for evidence that you know how to get along with people and that you are more than an academic grind.

I also have to wonder why you you are working at three different jobs when you are also working so hard at school. If money is an issue, I strongly suggest that you talk with your financial aid department. Being at the top of the class won’t matter if you drop from mental and physical exhaustion.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Feb 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). stressful dreams. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/02/25/stressful-dreams/