Whoever said, "do a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life" is a dirty liar. Even at the world's most joyful job, every day isn't sunshine and rainbows. It's okay to have bad days. What's not okay is when your weather forecast for work is continuously full of gloom, doom, and a 50% chance of anxiety in the late afternoon.
Earlier this year, burnout was officially classified as a work-related medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization, giving credence to what we already intuited - all work and no play really does make Jack a dull boy. However, considering 55% of Americans didn't use their allotted time off in 2018, it seems most people don't know when they're about to have a Stanley Kubrick-style psychotic episode. Here's a helpful hint - if you're already thinking about vacation, it's time to start planning one. If you're on the fence about taking time off, these seven deadly signs might mean you need to book an office getaway before you turn into Jack Nicholson at the Stanley Hotel.
1. Responding to a simple email feels like writing a doctoral thesis.
When minuscule tasks start to feel like climbing mountains, you should turn on your email's vacation responder and climb an actual mountain instead. Nothing will remind you how insignificant an email is than standing on top of a peak as monumental as Mount Kilimanjaro, which looms 19,341 feet above the sprawling Tanzanian savannah.
2. You suspect your office chair is plotting your death.
Office chairs are low-key serial killers that should come with a Surgeon General's warning. They may cause chronic back pain, obesity, high blood pressure, and lead to heart disease. Even though scientists dubbed sitting the new smoking years ago, the average office person still sits 15 hours per day. After your desk chair's homicide attempt, treat yourself to a trip where sitting is the last thing you do. Find some inner peace at a yoga retreat in Bhutan, or get your blood flowing by hiking Britain's Homeric new England Coast Path, slated to open in 2020. With all that exercise, you may long for your lethal chair once more.
3. You won the superlative "Most Likely to Bring Negativity to the Workplace."
If you're regularly bringing a twister of negativity to the office, consider taking a week off in Finland to weather the storm. According to the 2019 World Happiness Report, Finland is the world's happiest country, meaning the Finns have plenty of joy to share. Take this joy back to your coworkers. Spreading cynicism becomes an inescapable cycle; sharing gratitude sparks the equal and opposite reaction.
4. Your laptop and smartphone are the annoying coworkers you never wanted.
If the incessant pings on your technological devices diverts your attention more than that office-mate obsessed with sharing mediocre Grumpy Cat memes (RIP), it's time to step away from the screens. Every time your focus is interrupted by technology, you pay a switch cost that disrupts the brain's cognitive processes. Each interruption only accounts for a few tenths of a second, but these add up. By the end of the day, switch costs can amount to 40% of your brain's productivity.
On top of that, smartphone usage spikes the stress hormone cortisol in the brain. Increased levels of cortisol negatively impact the prefrontal cortex, which leads to poor decision making. The American Psychological Association says 86% of Americans admit to regularly checking their email and social media accounts - a constant connection that may lead to regrettable personal choices. If you accidentally stripped down to your skivvies in front of the CEO at your company's last office party, don't blame it on the alcohol - blame it on the cortisol and let HR know a digital detox is the only antidote. The shepherds who graze livestock in the Celestial Mountains of Kyrgyzstan aren't working with a 5G connection. Join them in their yurts and put your smartphone on silent.
5. The bags under your eyes are so big you have to check them at the airport.
Between 2010 and 2018, the number of workers getting an inadequate amount of sleep rose from 30.9% to 35.6%. Nearly one-third of millennials attribute this lack of shut-eye to their never-ending to-do lists and an insufficient time to accomplish tasks. If you’re too stressed to sleep and too tired to get anything done, an all-inclusive luxury resort is calling your name. Check out Rondon Ridge, an eco-friendly option in Papua New Guinea. You'll rest easy knowing everything is already taken care of - including the environment.
6. If unused vacation days were money, you'd be a millionaire.
According to the US Travel Association, Americans left 768 million vacation days unused in 2018. 236 days were lost entirely, accounting for US$65.5 billion in benefits. No one gets souvenirs for lost personal days, but if you take a three-week backpacking trip through Europe's most iconic cities, you can bring home as many souvenirs as your luggage will allow.
7. All the world’s your workplace.
You're taking conference calls from bathroom stalls. You're answering emails at your sister's wedding. You've been hitting it so hard that your friends haven't seen you in months and your family is wondering if they should send out a search party. Even your last vacation devolved into office work.
In a study of over 2000 full-time workers, TurnKey Vacation Rentals found that 70.4% of people checked in with their workplace while on vacation. That doesn't exactly constitute a break. According to the Boston Consulting Group, professionals with mandatory time off were more productive than people who spent extra time working. Don't take a vacation just for the sake of job performance, though. Take a vacation for yourself and the people who love you. There’s no point in working hard if you never get to live a little.
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