As soon as fall weather hits, it seems as though everyone hits the ground running at full speed. School starts back up, the holidays are just around the corner, we’re rushing from one activity to the next and meanwhile, work deadlines are piling up on our desk and crowding up our inbox.
While you might think that the best solution to this stress and chaos is just to hunker down and get to work, putting your nose to the grindstone, what if you took an alternate route? What if, instead of staying at your desk until well past closing time, you took it upon yourself to sip something fruity with your toes in the sand, your phone tucked far away and out of reach?
Studies show that when we’re allowed to reset and recharge, even if only temporarily, we can come back to our duties and responsibilities with a newfound sense of focus and dedication. If you feel as though you’re a caged hamster just spinning aimlessly, yet furiously, around on a wheel that never stops, it might be time to book a ticket out of reality. Do you need a vacation to get away, reclaim your emotional, mental and physical health and just take a breather? Here are five definite signs the answer is “yes.”
1. Every molehill is suddenly a mountain.
No one wants a life full of surprise curveballs around every turn. While we’ll all have our fair share of proverbial fires to put out, we should be rested enough to adequately conquer them. We should feel up to the challenge of tackling the duties before us, both expected and unforeseen. However, if you feel as though everything little issue lately has been snowballing into a major one and you’re losing grasp on both your sanity and your ability to juggle it all, it’s time for a time-out.
Even when you have days where you’re just unable to knock everything out of the park, your attitude can still be upbeat and positive. If you’re finding it difficult to successfully scale even the tiniest molehills and you’re starting to believe that every minor inconvenience is a red-flag, Level-10 disaster, you’re slowly losing your prioritization skills and in a world that moves at a lightning pace, that’s a dangerous place to be in. This may be your cue to hop online and research that island paradise you’ve been daydreaming about.
2. You’re getting the “You look tired” greeting.
Ah, “You look tired.” It is perhaps the most misunderstood yet commonly shared exchange that two people can have. While the person giving you this observation might be doing so in the kindest, gentlest way possible, what we hear is “You look like a deranged raccoon. What in the world is wrong with you?”
In all seriousness, if your co-workers, friends or family members are noticing that your appearance is reflecting all of the stress you’re currently under, take this as a sign that you need a rejuvenation, stat. While most of us pride ourselves on keeping our emotions at bay and keeping our stress levels under control, the truth is that we all reach a breaking point. Even if you haven’t verbally admitted you’re overwhelmed, your thin lips, dark eye circles, and disheveled hair could be sending the message loud and clear for you.
3. You keep slipping up.
You’re used to being the shining star at your office. You arrive before anyone else and are the last to leave. You ace every project you turn in and enjoy the accolades and acknowledgment you receive for a job well done. But, suddenly, you’re making more mistakes than usual. You’re slipping up on even the tiniest details and you can’t figure out why. Chances are, it’s not your work ethic that’s dragging. It’s you because you’re trying to cram so much information into your brain, keep up with so many to-do tasks and answer to so many demands that something has to give.
One of the most common signs of workplace stress is an increase in simple errors. While this issue is especially important to notice and reverse in fields such as the medical industry, where burnout-fueled mistakes can actually cost someone their life, the truth is that anyone should be able to recognize when stress levels are so high they compromise our ability to work, life and love appropriately.
4. Physical aches and pains are cropping up.
While much stress and anxiety feel emotional or mental, we can also feel it in our bones, joints, and muscles as well. Does your back always feel tight? What about your neck? Do you find it difficult to stand for very long, or walk back to your car in the parking lot? Does your stomach often go weak during the day?
These are just a few of the ways stress can manifest itself in our bodies. If you’re currently under a ton of pressure and feeling the need to take a long vacation, don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly a lot achier than you used to be. From eye strain to high blood pressure, there are myriad health issues linked to workplace stress.
In employees, pain-linked health issues can be exacerbated by too-demanding workloads, negative working environments, and project obstacles that stand in the way of completion. If you’re feeling physically ill as you work tirelessly to meet everyone’s expectations, don’t hesitate to contact your physician. Share what’s going on with him or her, then find a great place to unwind for a few days.
While you’re there, be intentional about moving your body differently, in a kinder way. Take long, easy walks. Stretch in the morning or do a gentle exercise such as beach yoga to treat all your senses. Give your eyes a rest from the screen. Choose foods that nourish and replenish the nutrients you’ve lost as you chug cold coffee from your desk through your lunch break. Your body will thank you.
5. Sleep is a long-lost friend.
Insomnia is a very common issue that affects around 20% to 40% of adults annually. Yet, being kept awake one night by a particularly stressful day at work is one thing. A chronic issue of not being able to go to sleep or stay asleep is a sign of something else. If your head is constantly swirling with things to do, people to contact, emails to send and conference calls to schedule, it’s no wonder you have a hard time turning on that “off” switch at the end of the day.
Yet, as difficult as it is to fall asleep, it’s important that you try to do so. Chronic insomnia has been linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety, so if you’re not getting enough shut-eye when it’s dark, you’re only exacerbating the feelings of dread, stress, and turmoil you’re already experiencing. As such, a vacation might be just the trip you need to finally let your mind relax and finally catch some shut-eye.
Taking Timeout to Recharge and Reflect
If you’re up to your eyeballs in stress, a vacation, no matter how long, indulgent and rejuvenating, won’t magically make it all go away. What it will do, however, is equip you to be better equipped to tackle it when you get back. So often, our periods of high-intensity chaos build upon each other so that as we work with all our might to get ahead to the point where we can finally relax and enjoy it all, we’re burning ourselves out in the process.
If you wait until you feel as though you can actually afford the time, money or resources it takes to go on a vacation, you may never take one. The good news? You don’t have to jet off to a tropical paradise on the other side of the world to find your peace and take your first real deep breath in ages. Sometimes, you just need to ask for a day or two away, put up your out-of-office notification, pull the blinds closed and sink into your own bed to rest. Regardless of where you choose to go or what you choose to do, prioritize self-care and you’ll come back ready to take charge, shave the excess off your list of responsibilities, and reclaim your life.