According to an Oxford Economics survey of 971 employees, four in ten U.S. workers finished 2013 with unused paid time off - leaving an average of 3.2 days still on the table! Make no mistake, employers want to see hard work and commitment from their workers. So, although you may take pride in the fact that you slog through weeks and months without taking a vacation, your performance and productivity are suffering. In regards to your personal mental health - your brain needs a break!!
Your brain becomes exhausted by continuous work; every time you step away from your responsibilities for an hour at lunch or a weekend with family and friends, you give your brain an important breather. In fact, upon returning to work after taking some time off, 75% of managers in the Oxford survey reported feeling recharged and refreshed, 50% said they were more focused and 41% say they felt less stressed. All those benefits are good for your work and good for you!
Here's some helpful tips:
Try Something New: when you focus your attention on something else, you give your brain a great chance to recover from the daily grind.
Work at Mastering a New Skill or Interest: Learning, starting and then getting the hang of something helps both your mental and physical resources.
Sign off from work. Do.Not.Check.Email: every time you check back in, you don't have that psychological disconnect anymore. Even if it is "just for a minute" - you've totally defeated the purpose of being away.
Believe it - you are important, but not so important that you can't step away to recharge your batteries! You will return with a renewed enthusiasm and energy for your work!