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10 Signs That Could Mean You Need a Vacation – Part I

Young upset female employee resting head on desk next to bunch of crumpled papers and her glasses

Let’s be honest – we all need a break from work once in a while. Working too hard or for too long can have a negative effect on our health. And, that’s not just a myth – researchers have proven stress on the job on a daily basis, without taking a day off, can actually affect your well-being and the way you do your job. After all, it’s much better to use your health insurance for regular preventative check-ups with your doctor than for a lengthy hospital stay after you’ve made yourself sick.

While most people won’t hesitate to call in sick if they have the flu, only a few dare take a day off when their stress levels go from red to purple on the stress-meter.

In a 2011 survey of 1,546 people by the American Psychological Association, about one-third of respondents said they typically feel tense or stressed out during their workday. And despite the fact that nearly all of us need an occasional break from time to time, many rarely take a vacation day because they worry that others will look down on them or worse – take their place, according to Paula Davis-Laack, PhD, author of Addicted to Busy.

Sky-high stress at work won’t just lead to burnout—it can also bring on a variety of ailments, including stomach issues, trouble sleeping, headaches, and more. A 2011 review by researchers from the University of South Florida found that, on average, Americans get 14 days of vacation a year, but use only 10 of them. There’s no trick to knowing when you’ve reached a breaking point. Just pay attention to the 10 signs that might indicate it’s time for a vacation.

Here are the 10 telltale signs you may need some time off:

1. Every little problem turns into a big issue
Problems often come up at work. How you handle them when they do is an indicator or whether it’s time for a break or not. You should be able to face a curve ball or two during the course of the day or week – and, normally, you take care of things like a pro. But, if everything you’re dealing with is a 10 on the problem scale and you’re getting flustered and acting testier toward your co-workers or clients than usual – maybe it’s time to recharge the batteries before you blow a fuse.

2. Your co-workers keep asking if you’re all right
You may not be aware your stress is showing, but other people might notice that you’re stressed before you do. You don’t want to reach that point. If your co-workers keep approaching you to ask “If you’re all right” or “You look tired”, then that could be a sign that your stress is showing and it’s obvious to the rest of your office. If you’re unusually cranky and irritable – and your co-workers are giving you more distance or avoiding you altogether, you may not need to take a lot of time off—just a day or two or a long weekend. But use the time off to unwind and not think about work.

3. You start making mistakes
Studies show that chronic stress can cause errors in the workplace and it’s a sign that you may need to take a step back. This is evidenced further as tests have proven that when doctors and pharmacists are stressed out or have a heavy workload, they could be prone to more mistakes – not a good thing in the medical community, since those errors can be potentially fatal to patients.

If you’re in the middle of a project or heavy workload and have been messing up, even slightly, finish the project and then arrange to take some time off before the problem becomes chronic and jeopardizes your job.

4. You’re feeling pretty cynical
No matter how hard you try, you can’t come up with a single positive thought about the company you work for. Everything bores you, nothing excites you. Being cynical may not be the norm for you, but if those thoughts start creeping in and start taking over, it could be a sign you’re headed for burnout.

5. You start ‘borrowing’ the office supplies
Okay, we’ve all walked off with a pen or two, a box of paper clips or other small stuff, but if you’re spending an abnormal amount of time in the supply room, that’s a sign that you’re stressed out. Researchers have actually come up with a name for it: “counterproductive work behaviors,” or “CWB,” for short.

A recent 2015 study found that it may take weeks or even months before the CWBs start showing up in stressed-out employees. Uncertainty on the job can be a driving force of stress. If you’re engaging in what can be considered as counterproductive work behaviors, such as picking petty fights with your co-workers or taking extra-long lunch breaks, dreading returning to work, you may need a day off to help reset your priorities, according to Davis-Laack – or maybe even seek out new opportunities and job offers.

Well, those are the first five of the 10 Signs That Could Mean You Need a Vacation. If you’re showing any of these signs – come back for Part II next week and the final five signs to see – if you should really consider taking a few days off.

Because stress has been medically proven to cause harm to our bodies in many ways, having health insurance through your employer or from the state exchange as a result of Obamacare – also known as the Affordable Care Act – could be a life saver. Regular check-ups with a doctor can let a professional tell you if it’s time for a vacation.

If you currently don’t have coverage – why not get a free health insurance quote today?

Are any of these signs making you think you need a vacation? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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