What that dream about having sex with a coworker really means

These days, feeling stressed at work is practically a given. But you’d think that once you fall asleep, you’d be free from worries about pending project reports and pop-ins from your boss.

Unfortunately, that’s hardly the case. Our anxiety about work often spills over into our dreams. Sometimes those dreams are easy to interpret; for example, you might dream about getting fired because you’re afraid of it happening in real life. Others, like falling from a great height, are less obviously connected to work anxiety.

We consulted Michael Lennox, Ph.D., a psychologist and an expert in dream interpretation, to find out what the most common work-related anxiety dreams are — and what they’re trying to tell you.

Riding the elevator

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In dreams, an elevator ride between different floors of a building often symbolises the transition between different modes of thinking, Lennox says. So it could potentially indicate that you feel unimaginative or uninspired if you've been tasked with generating ideas for a project.

It's about 'that anxiety of not being able to be more creative,' he says.

Getting fired

NBC

When you dream about being terminated from your job, Lennox says you're unconsciously practicing dealing with the anxiety of actually being fired.

'So you can go into work feeling confident that if you get fired, you know how to do it. I mean that in a weird hyperconscious sort of way.'

Being unprepared for a test

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People commonly dream of being unprepared for a test in high school or college -- even if they graduated years ago. And Lennox says it's often triggered by performance anxiety at work.

High school and college 'are the first places where we learn about responsibility and accountability. (The dream) will often recur when we're faced with the same sense of pressure in our current waking life.'

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