Before you burn out, get out … on a vacation.

Long hours managing projects for clients, countless board meetings discussing the rollout of a new product, spending the last five weekends coordinating crisis control ... let’s face it — we all need a break.

Working non-stop is counterproductive and can hurt your business, close relationships, and, ultimately, your health. But many Americans are simply too afraid to take a work vacation or take time off from work. They roll out of bed each morning, groan, and start the same trials and tribulations.

A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association found that 40 percent of employees neglect to take all of their vacation time. Some fear the extra work they’ll face upon return. Others simply cannot find the time to relax, as their jobs are too demanding.

On the other hand, many companies realize that these unused vacation days are piling up and productivity is decreasing. Some companies now require their team members to take at least one or two weeks off each year. Other companies offer shorter breaks to alleviate fears of extra work. Executives have learned that the benefits of taking a vacation far outweigh the loss.

Improve your health with a few days off.

While everyone needs a break, vacations and time off from work aren’t just about free time and leisure. There are real health benefits of taking a vacation or taking time off from work. Job stress tends to pile up, causing us to feel agitated and anxious. Stress and anxiety can have serious implications on your health. Worrying causes high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes, and lowers the immune system. Taking a vacation at least once every two years greatly reduces the adverse health effects caused by work-related stress.

Increase your productivity with a little break.

Stress affects more than your health. It causes your work to suffer and interferes with productivity. Taking time off from work re-energizes your body and mind, allowing you to return to work with a renewed vigor. Returning from vacation helps workers focus more on the work they have to make up. But, to reap the benefits of taking a vacation, it means leaving your work at home. Don’t take projects or “light reading” unless it’s a good book that helps you relax. This isn’t the time to catch up on more work or learn new skills.

Focus on your relationships.

Working nonstop puts a strain on relationships. Spend more time with your family and friends during your vacation. If you don’t have children, take your spouse on a romantic vacation. Or schedule some time playing golf with your friends. Time spent with family and friends can strengthen your bonds and reinforce your connections.

Prevent burnout by stepping away for a while.

We’ve all been there. The same job, every day. It gets boring, tedious and stressful. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a little more excitement. We call that a vacation. Step away from the job and take some time off from work before you burn out and lose the fire inside of you. Taking a vacation prevents the pressure and discouragement that come from a burnout. Ignoring the warning signs and forcing yourself to continue working through the burnout could be disastrous. Your productivity will decrease, and you may even make decisions you’ll regret later.

Related: How to Prevent Burnout in 3 Easy Steps

Should I take a vacation or “staycation?”

The time has finally arrived: Your vacation is close and relaxation is guaranteed. But should you take a long vacation to a popular destination or stay at home? Staying at home versus traveling has been a popular debate among vacationers since, well, the first vacation. The answer is simple — determine what you want and can afford. No matter what, you're taking time off from work, so you can't go wrong! Here are a few pros and cons to help you determine the best fit.

Staycation pros:

  • It’s cheaper. Worrying about vacation expenses does put a drag on your time off. Who wants to spend $100 a day eating out when the fridge has plenty of options?

  • More relaxation. Vacations are exciting, but tiresome. Vacationers typically spend more time working than relaxing.

  • No surprises. You don’t have to worry about directions or getting lost.

Staycation cons:

  • No change of scenery. Everyone wants to escape every once in awhile. Staycations provide limited options for new areas and excitement.

  • Your friends are around every corner. There’s a reason they say “get away from it all.” We need time away from people we know.

  • Attack of the housework! It’s not easy to ignore chores and repairs you’ve been putting off for months, especially when you spend the day looking at them.

Destination vacation pros:

  • Get away from it all. There’s nothing like escaping life’s problems or taking a walk on the wild side. Plus, you don’t have to worry about running into your boss at the bar.

  • There are more choices. Vacation destinations are limitless. No matter what climate or culture, travel agencies have it all.

  • Less temptation to work. Let’s face it — if you stay at home, you WILL be tempted to work. There are so many reruns of “I Love Lucy” one person can handle. The boredom will drive you back to work.

Destination vacation cons:

  • It’s expensive. Those travel agents may have the perfect little beach-front view, but views come with a steep price.

Companies that promote vacation time.

You may have the desire and the means to take a vacation, but maybe your boss isn’t as thrilled with your plans. While most companies rely on employees taking time off from work to re-energize their teams, there are some employers who simply refuse to let you go. This may reflect early warning signs telling you to find a better job. Here are a few companies that promote time off from work.

General Electric. General Electric (GE) employs more than 300,000 team members, and with 136,000 in the U.S., It’s one of the largest employers in the country. In 2016, GE announced a dramatic change to its vacation plan, allowing 30,000 executive and managerial team members to take unlimited paid days off. This includes sick days, personal time, and vacation.

Grant Thornton. Accounting firm Grant Thornton is pioneering a new worker relations strategy. The company recently rolled out an unlimited paid vacation plan to nearly 7,000 employees. The new policy was designed to increase productivity and show more compassion to its workers.

GrubHub. GrubHub, maker of the mobile app that helps businesses optimize orders and deliveries, provides unlimited vacation to all its full-time employees. The flexible employment plan was designed to encourage a balance between work and life. The policy applies to vacation, sick leave, and personal days.

Netflix. The world’s largest streaming network introduced unlimited time off years before most companies considered the perk. Starting 10 years ago, Netflix started offering all team members unlimited time off and focused on the work produced rather the hours worked.

LinkedIn. The social media company focused on building professional relationships is building a few of its own. In 2016, LinkedIn introduced the discretionary time off (DTO) policy. DTO allows team members to take time off at their own discretion and prohibits setting a maximum or minimum on the amount of vacation time employees can take each year.

Virgin Group. Virgin Group did away with its boring vacation policy in September 2014. The new format allows team members to take as much paid leave as they want. While this is one of the best vacation packages around, it was only released to about 160 employees working at the company’s headquarters in New York, London, Geneva, and Sydney.

Hubspot. One of the nation’s first and largest cloud-based marketing and sales software platform, Hubspot advocates unlimited paid vacation for its employees. Looking to set the status quo for future companies, Hubspot decided to offer these benefits to all employees, regardless of time with company or job position.

Click on the following link for more advice on work-life balance.

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