Exhaustion. Fatigue. Burnout. All of these are subtle (or not-so-subtle) ways your body is saying you need a vacation. With summer almost upon us, it’s the ideal time to step away from your desk, get out of town (or at least stop working) for a week or two, and recharge — your body needs it.
If you’re nervous about taking a break from work, you’re not alone. A recent survey of 2,100 Americans found that more than half of workers opt not to use their full allotment of vacation time because they know they’ll face “vacation shaming” from colleagues. Which is really not okay, but you know that already.
If you’re feeling out of sorts and aren’t sure why, or your body is behaving in surprising and unnerving ways, you probably need a break from the chaos of work and everyday life.
Read on to see if your body is saying (loudly!) that you need a vacation.
1You can’t sleep.
Insomnia is an early-stage characteristic of burnout. If you’re noticing that it’s hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep, you may need to take a break from work before you hit full professional burnout.
2Your stomach is upset.
According to a 2011 report from researchers at the University of South Florida, “nausea, acid indigestion or heart-burn, abdominal and stomach cramps (excluding those that are due to menstruation), and irritable bowel syndrome” are all gastrointestinal symptoms of stress, and signs you need a vacation.
3You’re getting a lot of headaches.
Research has found that the pain-signaling pathways in the brain can become extra sensitive when exposed to stress, so any little irritation or twinge in the body can signal pain and cause a headache. This can also lead to back and body aches, another sign of burnout.
4You’re getting sick more often, and it’s taking you longer to recover.
When your body is exhausted, your immune system isn’t functioning at 100 percent, so you’re less able to fight off infection and you have a harder time recovering when you do get sick. Time to step away from the madness and unwind for a while.
5Your body feels tired and heavy all the time.
If you feel heavy, lethargic, and physically exhausted, you may be suffering from fatigue — one of the most common physical responses to stress. This condition, unfortunately, can become chronic (and is genetic in some people), and is a definite sign you need to get away from whatever is feeding your stress.
6You’re more cynical about your job.
This is an emotional indication that you need a vacation. If you’re easily frustrated with your coworkers, snappy with your customers or clients, feeling unmotivated to do your work, or think your job or contributions are pointless, it’s probably time for a vacation. Feelings of emotional exhaustion and the sense that every little problem is an insurmountable obstacle are also signs you should step away from work.
7Your appetite is all over the place.
Whether you’re eating more or less than usual, changes in your appetite are a sign of burnout and a response to stress. Your body may be releasing hormones that shut down your appetite, or amino acids that signal hunger. Either way, if your appetite is out of whack, your body is telling you to take a vacation.
Listen to your body’s cues and get yourself to the beach!