If you wake up every morning dreading the coming workday, it may be time to take some vacation days and relax. Every 9-to-5er’s life is full of account details, deadlines, and sales goals to meet. In short, it can feel like there’s never a good time to take a vacation, and that pressure makes it hard to recognize when you need a break. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and a less productive one, too.
Many companies’ PTO policies state that unused PTO will simply expire, not roll over, at the end of the year. When you don’t use it, you could lose it, and then you’ll regret that you didn’t take a chance to go skipping off to the Caymans when you could have. If you’re teetering on the edge between going and staying, here are eight signs that mean it’s time for a vacation.
Before you depart
Your first unofficial sign that you need a vacation is that you’ve made a habit of digging up all the “signs it’s time for a vacation” content that the world-wide-web has to offer. If you’re internally begging for a green light to press pause on your corporate to-do list, consider this internal dialogue your long-awaited sign. If you do decide to hop on a plane after reading the signs below, some planning will help keep your vacation as relaxing as it ought to be.
First of all, you should research your destination thoroughly if you’re traveling. Look online for what other Americans were surprised by when visiting. For example, it’s less common in some countries to use credit cards for small purchases, which could land you in hot water if you don’t bring cash.
Secondly, you may want to invest in travel insurance. Plans and coverage vary, but travel insurance will reimburse you your non-refundable travel expenses if you can’t go or need to return suddenly. That way, you may be out the vacation time, but at least you won’t be out the money, too.
Lastly, make arrangements for your mail before you leave. If you don’t have an auto-responder on your email and a plan for your physical mail, it can be challenging to unplug while you’re away. For physical mail, hire a house sitter or sign up for a virtual mailbox so that you can relax in the sand, knowing your mail won’t be returned or stolen.
Now that you’ve protected your future vacation from any undue stress, here are eight signs that it’s time to submit your annual leave request.
You find yourself overly sensitive
When we work, particularly in high-stress environments, our emotional threshold wears down over time. If you’re finding yourself less and less able to deal with frustration and disappointment at work, even in minor instances, it could be a sign that you’ve reached your stress threshold and need some time off to replenish it. You’re not you when you’re working nonstop, so eat a Snickers and take a vacation.
Usual hobbies don’t make you feel better
Who doesn’t love slipping in a hot, relaxing bath or cooking a nice dinner after work? Maybe you love watching your favorite TV programs or playing the guitar. Whatever it is, most people have hobbies and interests outside of work that helps them recharge in their free time. When your hobbies start to feel like they drain your energy instead of restoring it, that’s a good sign that you need a more intensive break from work.
You dread going to work
You probably hate Mondays as much as the next 9-to-5er, but if you’re also starting to hate Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, it might be time to take an extra-long weekend to yourself. Both your productivity and your coworkers will thank you for it.
You have zero energy
If you feel like your body’s check engine light is on every time you leave the office, regular sleep is not recharging your battery between shifts. Prolonged stress impacts your mental and physical health, so don’t be shy about using up that PTO when you need it.
Loved ones have trouble connecting with you
Excelling in your career is a fulfilling life path, but one that can leave your loved ones in the cold if you don’t take off enough. Vacations are the perfect time to reconnect with your loved ones if you’re guilty of often bringing work home with you.
You’re making more mistakes than normal
If your coworkers are threatening to put your training wheels back on, it may be time to put your leave request. As burnout gets closer, day-to-day tasks become more complicated, and more frequent mistakes quickly follow.
The sheep are counting you
If you lay awake at night thinking about all the tasks you have to do the next day, you’re not getting any rest. Lack of sleep from stress can exacerbate all of the other symptoms of burnout and quickly put you down for the count. If work is starting to interfere with your sleep, take a step back, and make sure your next nap is in a cozy hotel room.
You may worry about being the best employee and colleague you can be, but taking your vacation time makes you a better worker. When you’re experiencing burnout, your productivity decreases, and it can affect your mood and relationships. If you’re at the end of your wick, blow out the candle and take a vacation.