You know the feeling. You feel overtired, burnt out and you may even be a little irritable. It might be time for a vacation. Summer is traditionally the time people travel for vacation because of the weather but sometimes just a "staycation" will do. A 2011 survey of over 1500 people by the American Psychological Association found that 1/3 of respondents feel tense or stressed our during their workday. Many people choose not to take vacation day for fear of their peers and their opinion of them as a hard worker. The truth is we all need a break. Stress affects our body systemically.
Our body responds to stress by altering the secretions of certain hormones and chemicals. A majority of these secretions originate from the adrenal gland, a small gland that is situated on top of the kidneys and releases hormones that: control the “fight or flight” response, maintain metabolic processes (i.e. blood sugar levels), regulate the balance between salt and water, maintain pregnancy and finally, initiate and control sexual maturation. In moderation, these hormones can help save your life, but for prolonged periods of time, they can have seriously detrimental effects.
So how do you know it's time for a vacation? Here are 7 signs to watch for.
1. You require a glass of wine at the end of day. Now, a glass of wine has many health benefits including a high amount of antioxidants which help fight inflammation, but doesn't mean a glass or 4 every night is a good idea. If your job is driving you to drink, it might be time for some time away. A 2012 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found women experiencing burnout were more susceptible to emotional and uncontrolled eating that could boost your risk for obesity.
2. Little problems escalate into big ones quickly: A positive attitude helps you tackle daily minor problems and issues but on those bad days, we all have the capability to snap. The key is to keep the situation in perspective. If everything you're dealing with at work rises to a level-10 problem in your head, then you might want to evaluate why.
3. More mistakes are made: This probably means you're just burned out. Chronic stress is a well-known cause of workplace errors. You may want to take a step back. Studies show employees who are stressed are more prone to mistakes. If you're in the middle of a project and have had some slip-ups, finish the project and arrange for some time off.
4. Cynicism gets the best of you: If you feel indifferent and bored with everything you're doing, this may be a sign of underlying stress that you haven't addressed. Once those cynical thoughts overcome any positive ones, it may mean you're headed for a burnout.
5. Your body aches: Eye strain, headaches, neck pain and beyond, these painful conditions means your body is trying to say to you "I need a day off." A review in 2011 from the University of South Florida, evaluated stress in the workplace found that heavy workloads, negative environments and obstacles that prevent people from completing their tasks were all factors linked to pain-related health problems in employees. The research indicates that when we find ourselves in stressful situations, their bodies release chemicals that trigger inflammation and increase sensitivity to pain.
6. Stomach pain never ends: Headaches aren't the only physical sign that you're feeling stressed. A sure-sign is cramping and bloating. Many people express issues of digestion and stomach pain when feeling stressed. This could be due to stress causing changed to the bacteria that lives in our gut.
7. Not sleeping: Sleep is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle. What happens is the effects of stress interrupt a healthy sleep routine. A 2007 study from the University of Georgia at Athens showed that people who believed they worked excessive amounts of time had a hard time falling asleep. Researchers speculate that hormones involved in the flight-or-fight response activated when we encounter a stressful situation may cause lasting tension and hurt your sleep routine.