Despite a seemingly endless stream of articles warning of the perils associated with overworking, many people still choose to forgo vacations. In fact, a 2015 survey from Glassdoor found that US employees only use half (51%) of their eligible paid vacation time.
“Some people are simply workaholics. Many employees feel they are already too behind in their work and they fear falling even further behind if they take their vacation,”explains Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humor Advantage. “Some are worried about their boss’s perception, especially when no one else is taking their vacation. And some employees in a highly competitive industry are even fearful it can cost them their job either because it will reflect poorly on their work ethic or it will leave an opening for a colleague to prove themselves while they’re away.”
But no matter how worried you are, or how much you love your work, not taking regular vacations is a proven recipe for burnout that can lead to major health issues and end up requiring an even longer break away from work, he says. “The list of stress-related health issues caused by an endless work schedule is enormous, including sleepless nights, stomach issues, irritability, backaches, and tension headaches.”
A 2015 study from University College in London found that overworking can lead to a 33% higher risk of having a stroke, and a 13% increased risk of a heart attack.
And beyond the numerous documented impacts on your health, forgoing vacations can lead to reduced productivity, dampened creativity, and more careless mistakes at work.
Taking vacations, however, can help you return to work refreshed and re-energized and thus better able to cope with challenges and day-to-day stressors.
“Unplugging from work, even just for a day or two, can help you maintain a better overall perspective on life, help strengthen your personal relationships, and boost your happiness levels which will all support a healthier, happier person showing up at work,” says Kerr.
“Since creativity is fed by new experiences and serendipitous encounters, taking regular vacations can lead to powerful insights and new ideas that you can bring back to the workplace. And although some people worry about their job security when they go away, the reverse can also be true: If you’re a valuable commodity at work, then going away can serve as a great reminder to your boss and colleagues of just how sorely you’re missed when you’re not around to handle things.”
Here are 12 signs you desperately need a vacation from work.