7 Signs You Need a Vacation from Work

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You could put even more time into an assignment. You should be preparing for that huge meeting with your boss next month. You don’t want people to think you don’t care about the company. You could tell yourself a million reasons why you shouldn’t use your vacation days, and you’re not alone. A survey from Glassdoor conducted in 2015 found that US employees only use about half of their authorized paid vacation time. In a world that seems to constantly tell young professionals they could be doing more and working harder, it’s important to make sure these reasons don’t become excuses to give up a much-needed rest.

Michael Kerr, CSP, is a Hall of Fame international business and motivational speaker, workshop trainer and author who researches, writes and speaks on workplace cultures. He shared many signs a professional is in need a vacation, as well as negative side effects of letting work take over and positive benefits of vacationing with Her Campus. If you’re reading through this list thinking, “me, me, me,” book some tickets or pack up your car because it’s time for some R&R.

1. You can’t sleep

Tossing and turning at night can be a side effect of too much stress. Struggling with insomnia may come from overthinking what happened at work that day, anxiety over something coming up at work or just a general uneasiness surrounding your job. “The stress associated with burnout can lead to an increase in insomnia, which can in turn lead to even more health issues and cause a downward spiral,” says Kerr. What better place to re-set your sleep schedule and get the full nine hours you’ve been craving than on a sunny beach or king-sized hotel bed?

2. You’re missing important events in your personal life

If you’ve had to RSVP “no” to several friends’ weddings or missed the last three family birthday dinners, it may be time to reconsider your priorities. “We know that overwork can put a huge strain on personal relationships, often leading to marital breakdowns or at the very least serious family tensions,” explains Kerr. All the money in the world can’t make up for lost quality time with the ones you love most, so take a vacation away with your family, friends or significant other without answering your work email every 10 minutes.

3. You’re making more mistakes at work

According to Kerr, making mistakes at work that are out of the norm for you should be a clue that something greater is going on. Many young professionals feel guilty about using their vacation days. However, Kerr would remind them that some time to let your body and brain slow down “can often lead to renewed focus and engagement for people when they get back, improved energy levels, and a lot of people report feeling more creative, and often find the time away leads to innovative ideas and fresh perspectives on workplace issues.”

Related: 5 Things to Make Time for No Matter How Busy You Are

4. You no longer feel enthusiastic about your work

Becoming cynical about your work is an emotional indicator that you need to step away from your desk. You may be noticing that tiny problems you usually fix with ease have turned into insurmountable obstacles that leave you wanting to cry in the office bathroom or turn in your two weeks notice. “There’s the danger of people losing their mojo and being less excited and passionate about their jobs,” says Kerr, “which in turn can affect the overall morale of the workplace and customer service.” Before doing anything dramatic, go on a vacation to remember why you chose to apply to this job or pursue this career path in the first place.

5. You’re uncharacteristically snapping at your co-workers

Being cranky with the co-workers you usually love working with could be a sign you need time apart. “If a normally patient person is suddenly losing their patience or perspective on issues, that could be an obvious sign the person is in need of a break,” explains Kerr. If you can’t make it through an all-team meeting without rolling your eyes or a dinner with your SO without complaining about your desk-mate, take some days off and come back ready to be a sympathetic team player again.

6. The little indulgences aren’t cutting it anymore

“During a particularly busy 6-month period at work, I started to use desserts and weekend-long Netflix binges as a way to pamper myself,” says University of Connecticut graduate Lauren. “Not only were these small treats not actually making me feel rejuvenated, they were making me feel worse overall!” If you’re using 'treat yourself!' as an excuse to eat poorly and skip workouts, or the face mask and pedicure you’re giving yourself after work aren’t calming you down anymore, a proper vacation may be just what you need.

7. You’re extremely hesitant to take a vacation

This may seem like an oxymoron, but if the thought of having to check your email after a few days out of the office makes you break out into a nervous sweat, it may actually be a sign you should take a vacation.

“Progressive companies understand the enormous financial costs associated with employee burnout, so more and more companies are shaking up their vacation policies," says Kerr. He explains how some companies have mandatory vacation days to take away some of that worry employees have that others will take their job or look down on them for taking vacation or long term sabbaticals. In addition, many companies manage employee emails through a 'Mail on Holiday' program. “If you send an e-mail to someone who is on vacation you’ll get a response notifying you of an alternative person to contact and warming that your message will be deleted—so if you truly need to reach the vacationing person, you’ll have to resend the email after they return,” says Kerr of these programs. Talk to your supervisor or HR representative if you have questions about your vacation procedures, or strategies to truly be away from the office, mentally and physically, while on vacation.

No matter how much you love your job, everyone needs an escape once in a while. Planning a two-week European getaway or even just five days at your house without going to work will help you come back to work refreshed and reenergized. The office will always be there, but vacation days might not so avoid burnout from stress and tell your boss you’ll be using those vacation days stat.

About The Author

JMU alumni making her way into the "real" world. Passion for spending time with my large Italian family, running and eating any and all desserts I can get my hands on.