The average American is given 10 vacation days a year … but uses only five of them. And even when we’re away, we’re plugged in. The problem is that while working all these hours may seem virtuous, studies have shown putting in extra time is not actually helping you get more done; it’s just wearing you down. So if three or more of these items apply to you, do yourself—and your work—a favor: Schedule some time off.
1. YOUR JOB HAS BECOME YOUR LIFE…
If work is the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing before you go to bed; if you think about work while you’re out with friends or playing with your kids; if you feel like you couldn’t possibly leave for a few days—it’s time to leave for a few days. Unless you are the President of the United States, your absence is not going to kill anybody. You are not that important. (Sorry.)
2. …BUT YOU HATE YOUR JOB.
If you previously liked your job but gradually you’ve come to hate it for no discernible reason, it might be time for a break. If there is a clear cause but it’s something you can’t change, you also deserve a few days’ respite.
3. YOU’RE ALWAYS TIRED.
Stress is one of the most common causes of insomnia and poor sleep. If the parade of deadlines in your head is keeping you up at night, or if you start having regular work-related bad dreams, it’s time to step away.
4. YOU’RE MAKING SILLY MISTAKES.
Stress also hinders our performance at work. The more overworked or stressed out we are, the more avoidable mistakes we will make. If your list of little errors is piling up, you probably need to recharge your batteries.
5. YOU JUST CAN’T DEAL.
If you feel thin-skinned and every broken fingernail or missing pen becomes a crisis, you are in serious need of some rest and perspective. Stress can erode our emotional resources, making it harder to deal with problems both big and small.
6. YOUR BODY IS A WRECK.
Stress can raise your blood pressure, upset your stomach, and give you headaches. Working at a desk all day puts stress on your wrists, shoulders, hands, eyes, back, and neck. Every job is hard on your body if you don’t take breaks.
7. YOU HATE EVERYTHING.
Is everything awful right now? Do you dread the thought of getting out of bed and going to work? Do you feel pessimistic about everything? Are you unpleasant to be around? It might be time to get away from it all. (But, it’s important to note, if these feelings persist and are accompanied by a loss of interest in things you care about and/or a constant feeling of numbness or gloom, it may be time to talk to your doctor.)