Our last post outlined the importance of vacations for our physical and emotional health. It is advisable to take at least one week per year (arguably two) to remove ourselves from our work and everyday environment, and immerse ourselves in either something new, or something exclusively nurturing. There are however, signs that a week or two on holiday would be particularly beneficial. So how do you know you need a vacation? We hope to help you recognize the signs in this post. Note that these signs, although similar, are different from those preceding burnout. In fact, recognizing and attending to these early signals could help prevent burnout in the future.
Signs That You May Need a Vacation:
1) You feel physically restless: fidgeting, feeling antsy, and being unable to sit still are all signs of restlessness. Internally, you may feel frustrated or constricted, which often manifests as outward restlessness. When we spend extended periods of time in the same place, performing the same duties, and repeating the same routine without variety, the mind could reach a state in which it lacks stimulation. We are a curious species, often needing to learn and progress in order to feel fulfilled. When this comes to a halt as a result of our stagnant environments, it can lead to frustration and restlessness. One of the best ways to remedy this, is to take a break. To remove ourselves from the routine and invest in something personal and nurturing such as a vacation. Often, the detachment and time away could re-spark the flame, and inspire motivation to return to work with new ideas and a refreshed sense of productivity.
2) You are anxious to arrive at the “end of your day:” the end of your day could mean leaving the office at 5 pm, to the end of your shift, to the kids’ bedtime. Regardless of what you spend the better part of your day investing in, when you find yourself looking forward to its completion, this could be a sign that you are in need of a break. While it is common not to consider your working hours the best party of your day, life is still meant to be enjoyed, not only when quitting time rolls around, but also during the hours in between. We realize that up and taking a holiday is easier in theory than it is in practice, but you will invariably find that when you allow yourself to prioritize something, attaining it is always possible.
3) You have less vested interest: this pertains to essentially “caring less” about your work performance as well as the potential consequences of poor performance. Feelings of futility at work could also accompany the lessening of interest and investment in your work. This sign is actually on the more concerning end of the spectrum as it is also characteristic of approaching burnout. If addressed immediately however, more severe negative consequences can be avoided. If you have been increasingly tardy for work, find yourself procrastinating on important tasks, or sense less accountability at your job, taking a break is the best solution. A vacation could help you recharge and remind you of why your work is so important to you, or contrarily realize that you are due for a change if it is no longer bringing you satisfaction. Holidays have a way of clearing the mind and encouraging insight, while relaxing the body. There is much more going on in the psyche during a vacation than we realize.
4) You experience more absent-mindedness: have you been making more frequent errors at work? Forgetting things? Dropping things? Daydreaming and experiencing more inattention? Oftentimes, if such behaviours are considered relatively out of character, but have been occurring more frequently, it is likely a sign that you are becoming fatigued. The best remedy for this is a break. If a vacation or holiday doesn’t sort out the undesirable behaviour, it may be the result of an alternative cause, such as discontentment at work, or anxiety, which would likewise need to be addressed.
We hope this post has helped you introspect and consider being mindful of the signs that you may be due for a holiday. Remember, wanting one and “needing” one are two different states. We wish you a happy and healthy month of July, and hopefully a wonderful vacation as well…