12 Common Stress Dream Examples: What They Mean For You, Why Do They Happen, and How to Stop Them

Ahhh, stress dreams.

They’re a total nightmare!

But they can be very revealing too:

Stress dreams are a powerful way for your subconscious to communicate with your conscious mind.

And if you can interpret them properly, they can even guide you towards living a better, less stressful life.

So in this guide, we’ll run through 12 common stress dreams and what they mean for you.

What Are Stress Dreams?

Dreams are very normal and an important part of our existence.

In fact, dreaming is a sign that your brain is healthy and aware of the events in your environment and everyday life.

However, stress dreams are undeniably unpleasant.

They can often bring about feelings of unease, apprehension, as well as distress upon waking up.

Dream facts infographic
Source: https://infographicnow.com/psychology-infographics/psychology-infographic-dream-facts/

Stress dreams are also referred to as anxiety dreams.

Although stress dreams are sometimes classified as nightmares, they’re actually quite different.

Nightmares usually contain things that you may not fully understand, while a stress dream, on the other hand, is more organized.

Usually, they’ll recur a handful of times.

Stress dreams are generally less disturbing than nightmares.

Why Do Stress Dreams Occur?

Stress dreams occur when:

  • Worries of your daily life enter your unconscious mind
  • You’re anxious, fearful and stressed about a particular event

The unconscious mind stays active during sleep, and this allows stress and anxiety; being in a heightened state of arousals, to get into your mind and cause stress dreams.

It’s actually quite normal to wake up with your heart pounding and filled with fear, tiredness.

You may even find yourself drenched in sweat, after waking up from a stress dream.

This article will examine some common stress dreams, along with useful tips on dealing with them.

12 Examples Of Stress Dreams

Below are twelve of the most common stress dreams, as well as what they mean and how to handle them.

Let’s get into it…

1. Falling

Falling a very common stress dream. You may see yourself falling into water or through the sky, whilst screaming out for help.

So what does this mean?

Well, perhaps you’re situation that’s gotten worse over time, prompting the fear that you’re heading to the bottom. 

falling dream

It’s a stress dream that signifies your situation spiraling downwards out of control, whilst can’t do anything about it. Stress dreams in which you see yourself falling, signify a lack of security as well as failure.

It could mean you’re on the verge of losing your job, failing at your studies, or your relationship is about to break down.

2. Losing Your Teeth

Our teeth are regarded as a symbol of power. 

Therefore, when you have a dream that your teeth are being pulled out by a dentist or simply falling out, it’s a sign of heightened stress and anxiety.

These dreams can also signify that you’re in a situation that you cannot ‘’chew’’ or find your way through.

In situations when you’re unable to handle a challenge you’re facing, you may feel weak and incapable. 

This feeling of not being powerful enough leaks into the unconscious mind, resulting in stress dreams where your teeth fall out.

On the other hand, dreams about losing your teeth can also represent a general loss in real life.

3. Being Late for An Important Event or Meeting

It’s possible to constantly dream about turning up late for school, work, a date or even missing a flight.

Such dreams are associated with being unable to make it on time.

This signifies the feeling of being overwhelmed by or being unprepared about, certain big steps you’re about to take in your life.

During the turbulent times when you’re experiencing great changes that will transform the course of your life, it’s normal to feel difficulty living up to the demands of others, as well as goals you set for yourself.

Your thoughts will consistently revolve around not meeting up or making it, which will produce stress dreams of being late.

4. Being Naked in Public

This stress dream is a very sensitive one…

Being naked in public leaves you uncovered and exposed.

Basically, you become the center of attention for negative reasons, even if you attempt to cover up yourself.

Stress dreams, in which you see yourself naked in public, are linked to a feeling of shame and embarrassment. 

This is valid, as our clothes symbolize the shield that protects us from the outside world.

Without this shield, we’re left exposed and emotionally vulnerable. 

Such dreams indicate anxiety and stress about private affairs and matters such as intimacy and a lack of trust.

It could signify troubles in your relationship with your friends, lover or even family.

It also indicates feelings of vulnerability and fears of disappointing people.

5. A House on Fire

Having dreams about a house on fire is as bad as stress dreams get.

Dreams about your valuable assets, or more specifically your house is on fire, is a strong sign that your mind is overly stressed. 

Why? Because a house symbolizes your home and a place of refuge where you find comfort. 

It also symbolizes your state of mind, personality and all that you treasure.

Therefore, if you see your house on fire in one of your stress dreams, it’s an indication that you’re completely overloaded and should slow down.

This means that you need to take out time to cool off and set your life straight through self-reflection.

6. Losing Something Important and Valuable

Having dreams about losing items of great value to you, is particularly common.

This could be losing something like a piece of jewelry, a wallet containing your cards, an artifact; or something of great importance to you such as your wedding ring or house papers.

These are all signs that you’re stressed about losing grip on the important things in your life. 

These stress dreams signify that you have a lot going on in your life, which has caused you to lose sight of the important things. 

It could also mean you are worried about not giving your best output in certain areas of your life.

Finally, it also indicates a feeling of loss and worry.

7. Dreaming About Driving Out Of Control

Some people have dreams in which they’re driving out of control, and it’s strongly related to stress and anxiety.

This kind of stress dream is about personal responsibilities and your capability when it comes to accomplishing them.

It’s brought about by the stress of power; handing it over or remaining in control.

Stress dreams are concerned with driving out of control comes in two forms, each having its own meaning.

Here are the two forms explained:

1) If you’re driving by yourself and lose control, it indicates that you’re not accountable, hence not ready to take charge of your responsibilities.

2) On the other hand, if someone else is driving and loses control, it means you’re not willing to let someone take control of your responsibility and destiny.

8. Being Consumed by A Tidal Wave

This type of stress dream is closely connected to your emotional state, as water symbolizes emotions.

When you have dreams, which are associated with a large tidal wave sweeping or threatening to sweep over you, it’s a sign that you’re dealing with more pressure than you can handle. 

tidal wave stress dream

Being consumed by tidal waves signify you being overwhelmed by your responsibilities, which are sweeping you away.

Tidal waves indicate coming to terms with difficult changes in your career, school or place of work, or even as a result of a new relationship.

It can also be that you’re procrastinating on a task, which requires your attention.

9. Dreams About the End of the World

Dreams about the end of the world are also called Armageddon dreams.

Armageddon dreams are stress dreams where you experience the end of the world while you sleep.

This type of stress dream could be an indication of internal conflict or deep struggle, which is causing you a lot of psychological and emotional distress.

These sort of struggles require every bit of your focus and strength leaving you stressed, thereby causing anxiety dreams.

Armageddon dreams are quite significant, as it suggests that you’re at your breaking point, and all alone in the world. This is why it’s necessary to summon up all your energy, to deal with your struggles.

You should also seek help if you need it – maybe from your friends or family, or even a medical professional. 

10. Being Chased

A lot of people have dreams where they’re being chased.

In many of these stress dreams, you might find yourself running from something that you can’t see; but the sense of danger keeps you running. 

Typically, in such dreams you may find yourself:

  • Out of breath​
  • Looking back regularly
  • Trying to ensure your pursuer doesn’t catch up

It’s meaning:

Although the interpretation of this is based on what is chasing you; such stress dreams come from real-life anxiety. 

It usually indicates a situation in real life that you’re avoiding and running away from for certain reasons.

It could be having to discuss something important with your wife, a confrontation with your family member, or bills that need to be paid. 

Avoiding these situations causes stress and anxiety, which then bring about dreams in which you’re being chased.

The best thing to do in this situation is to face your problem and get it over with, so you can be relieved from the stress.

how to avoid nightmare infographic
Source: https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/postings/2014/images/infographic-reduce_nightmares.jpg

11. Dreams About War

Stress dreams can take the form of war, where you see yourself on the battlefield.

Being in a war in your dream could mean a number of things, all of which are centered around a real-life conflict. 

war stress dream

What does this mean? It could signify a major internal conflict that you’re dealing with.

Or more literally, it could be a problem, disagreement or misunderstanding you have with someone in real life.

From another perspective, it could mean that you need to take charge and be more aggressive about something or a situation in your life.

It could also symbolize the struggle for an outlet, by people who find it hard to express their feelings.

12. You Have Lost Your Car

Losing or forgetting where you parked your car is also a regular stress dream for adults.

Forgetting where you park your car in your dream could be related to the connection.

So what does this stress dream mean for you?

Well, it could mean you’re not connected with your new job, relationship or even your new house. 

It also signifies a lack of motivation in your life:

As your car (wheels) symbolizes your drive, a lost car could mean you’re lacking motivation in certain areas of your life.

It’s, therefore, necessary to look inwards and determine the area of your life, where you’re lacking zeal/passion. 

e.g. It could be your studies, career or even marriage.

How To Stop Stress Dreams

Stress is more or less a part of daily life, so this makes it unlikely for stress dreams to be stopped altogether.

However, the key to reducing stress dreams is to minimize the anxiety and stress which slips into your unconscious and causes these dreams.

Here are 4 ways to stop stress dreams:

Acknowledge It

The first step is to acknowledge it, whenever you’re in the midst of anything stressful.

Stress doesn’t usually go away by itself.

Instead, admitting you’re dealing with stress will prompt you to seek solutions to it faster than when you ignore it.

Routine Checkup

It’s important to check your vital health indicators, including your nutrition and sleep routine whenever you’re having stress dreams.

Malnutrition and a lack of sleep usually worsen stress and anxiety.

Substances like caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided as they increase stress.

Develop a Healthy Evening Routine

Many adults work right up until bedtime, with a good number having offices in their homes.

This is one of the fastest ways to increase your stress. 

Instead, developing a healthy evening routine will do you a whole lot of good. 

You can sit and read a bit, go for a walk, or do a few minutes of deep breathing before going to bed.

This helps your body and brain relax, allowing for a stress-free sleep.

Keep a Dream Journal

This is very important.


Because it will help you understand your dreams by documenting the frequency and mode of occurrence, in order to tackle the stressor.

e.g. When you have dreams about a house on fire consistently, it’s important to interpret this stress dream correctly and understand that you need to cool off and take it easy.