Do you feel like you can't take a vacation? Do you worry that if you have a day off, the office will fall apart? Perhaps you'll look like you don't care enough about your job? Nobody knows the client like you do, no-one knows your project like you do. In fact it's harder work to take a day off than it is to just go to work every single day of the year.
Well...if you agree with any of the above, then you definitely need a day off.
A recent report claims unused holiday days are at a 40-year high, with nearly a quarter of all paid vacation days in the States not being used, with the Brits not far behind.
When I worked at a top ten advertising agency in NYC, the EVP called a meeting to tell us, her staff, that she 'didn't want people taking vacation days off willy-nilly expecting everyone else to pick up the pieces', and 'a week's holiday is not a right, it's something that has to be earned'.
She was proud of the fact she'd worked every day straight for 6 years before taking a single day off. It was the most demotivating fact any of us had ever heard. Every employee left the meeting feeling thoroughly deflated.
I believe she was wrong. Even though she may be successful, it's not the best or healthiest way to do it. You need to take a break. Here's why:
Reduce your stress
When you're in the midst of all the stresses and pressures of work it's hard to see things clearly or rationally. Taking a proper holiday break helps give you perspective on the role of your job within your life. Staying aware of this viewpoint on your work/life balance when you return to work helps you maintain composure and decreases the effect of stress and likeliness of burnout.
Taking a holiday improves your effectiveness and concentration throughout the rest of the year. Unwind from your everyday stresses and you'll return with confidence, ready to face your work-related challenges. It gives the body the chance to replenish itself - like letting the grass grow back.
Increased job satisfaction
Knowing that your employer appreciates the importance of you having some personal time makes you feel valued. Richard Branson recently announced unlimited holiday days for his staff. It can lead to better teamwork and a boost to everyone's morale. Work is then a collaborative effort, each employee is prepared take on each other's roles to allow each of them to have their time off, knowing that this is what will be done for them too.
Have some family time
Dealing with your partner and/or children after a hard days work can be exhausting. Have a break and you'll have some important time to bond and relax and grow as a family. Just make sure you plan a holiday where it's easy for everyone to enjoy themselves.
Improve your health
Taking a holiday is good for your health. The New York Times recently reported that those who take less than one holiday every two years are more likely to suffer from depression and burnout. Those who fail to take annual holidays have a 21% higher risk of death from all causes and were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack.
Giving yourself some time off from your work means you are practising self-care, leading you to greater happiness, health and prosperity in the workplace and beyond.