Is work spilling into your dreams?

Work life balance is easier said than done these days with smartphones and 24/7 connectivity, but it’s a whole new ball game when work starts to infiltrate the one area of your life you thought it couldn’t – your dreams.

Here are some keys to understanding why your workdays are creeping into your nights as well as ideas for ensuring that workplace worries don’t keep you from getting that all-important good night’s sleep.

Work-related dreams can manifest themselves in many ways. Among the most common dreams are: being fired (or having to fire someone); losing important files; turning up to work naked; running late for work; having an affair with a colleague; equipment breaking; and being unprepared for something important, such as a pitch or presentation. The shared theme in most work-related dreams is an element of anxiety.

Open to interpretation

Although there is no definitive answer as to whether work-related dreams actually do stem from what’s happening in your office, it may be beneficial to look at the underlying story of the dream and see whether you can apply it to other areas of your life.

For example, a fear of being unprepared may represent a lack of confidence or nerves about a major event coming up in your life. A dream about running late could symbolise a missed opportunity (work-related or otherwise). Turning up naked to work could pertain to a fear of being judged, shamed or exposed in an environment or to people familiar to you. Likewise, a dream of being fired may be symbolic of a relationship or scenario that you may be asked or forced to exit.

Space and time

Some people will argue against dream analysis, instead concluding that you’ve been putting in too many long hours and are just generally busy or stressed about work.

Regardless of what stance you take, it may be worth trying some of the following work life balance tips to help you well and truly unwind from work before you hit the hay.

Switch off. Give yourself an after-hours cut-off time, after which you don’t check or respond to work-related emails, phone calls or texts. This should help you disconnect and put some boundaries in place between your work and home life.

Exercise. As well as being good for your physical health and general wellbeing, exercise is a great way to let off some steam. Whether it’s an after-work gym session, a group class or a run around your local park, it’s bound to help reduce your stress and increase your energy levels.

Take some time out. Make some time for yourself during the day that doesn’t centre on work or anything else. Whether it’s a 10-minute meditation to start or end your day, getting off the bus a few stops earlier and walking home, taking the dog for a walk or having a long bath after dinner, take a moment to breathe, reflect on the day, process anything of importance and then enjoy some time with yourself, your partner, family, friends or housemates.

And finally, never underestimate the value of some time away from your computer screen during your workday. Take a walk, don’t eat your lunch at your desk, go outside for some fresh air and, if you are guilty of this, try not to take work home with you every night.

Practicing some of these suggestions should help you leave work at the office and not take it with you into your dreams.

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