Everyone needs to take a break sometimes and yet many people leave their vacation time unused. Whether you plan a vacation, or a staycation, it’s important to take a break from the job, the routine, and the demands of life in order to keep stress levels in check.
When you take a break, you’re not shirking responsibility. You’re taking care of yourself so you’ll have the stamina to be your best. By learning how to watch for the signs that you need a break, you’ll be able to schedule some time away that will help you feel more refreshed and restored.
Signs That You Need a Break
Sometimes, it’s obvious that you need a vacation. In other cases, stress can sneak up on you. You may not necessarily recognize when you’re at risk of being overwhelmed and burned out.
Everyone responds to stress in unique ways, which means that the signs of being overwhelmed are also highly individual. However, there are some general warning signs that apply in most cases.
If you’re experiencing one or more of the following, start planning some downtime. This might mean a real vacation or even just a weekend staycation to recharge your batteries.
Key signs you need a break include:
Changes in eating habits
- Cynicism about work
- Difficulty concentrating
- Getting sick more frequently
- Lack of energy
- Lack of motivation
- Low mood
- Feeling unfocused or fuzzy-headed
- Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
- Poor performance at work
- Sleep disturbances
- Using drugs or alcohol to cope with stress
- Withdrawing from friends, family, or co-workers
In fact, unless you already feel energized, motivated, excited, creative, and fully engaged at work and in your relationships, you’d likely benefit from a vacation, because it’s a good idea to manage stress before it feels overwhelming. Vacations, mental health days, and regular self-care can keep you functioning at your best.
Benefits of Taking a Break
Vacations and even shorter breaks (take an afternoon off) where you get some physical and psychological space from the demands of life can bring many rewards. Some of the benefits you may enjoy when you take a break include:
- Reduced stress: Obviously, you feel less stress when you’re not in a stressful environment. But taking breaks bring more than that. They interrupt the cycle of stress that can lead to being overwhelmed.
- Rest: By breaking out of the cycle of chronic stress, you can restore yourself physically and mentally to a healthier place.
- Clearer thinking: Because a chronically triggered stress response can lead to decreased creativity, memory problems, and other issues, this break in the stress cycle can lead to sharper thinking and increased creativity in all areas of your life.3
- Increased productivity: All of this can make you better at your job, more available in your relationships, more energetic with your families, and more able to enjoy life after you return.
How to Take a Break
If you need a break, there are several different options for getting one. You can go for a long and luxurious break, a relaxing and simple one, or something short and sweet. You can even have minutes-long breaks that you take throughout the day to keep productivity higher and to keep from feeling overwhelmed.
A vacation is a real break, in the classic sense of the word, and taking a vacation is more important than many people realize. That’s why many vacation days go unused when they should be enjoyed to the fullest.
The key to a restful vacation is to prioritize rest and fun when you go; don’t overbook yourself with tourist activities or bring so much work with you that by the time you return you feel you need a vacation from your vacation.
Many people feel taking a break adds too much work in preparing to be away and then making up for the missed time. While it may take some effort, the health and well-being benefits you’ll gain more than make up for those costs.
The staycation is becoming more and more en vogue, especially as people have a greater need to take a break, but with fewer means to pull off an exotic trip. The staycation is all about rest and relaxation, and enjoying home sweet home—a place you are often too stressed and busy to really enjoy.
The key to a refreshing staycation is the same as the key to a restful vacation, though somewhat trickier to pull off: Don’t overdo it, and don’t let work creep in. That means no cleaning, office work, or dealing with regular responsibilities. You can either turn off the phones, ignore email, and make it a point to both rest and play at home, or go to a nearby hotel to make it easier.
Everyone needs a break from time to time in order to relieve stress. Even if you can’t take a big vacation, a staycation or short break can be a valuable way to feel restored and refreshed.