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Do You Need A Vacation From Vacation? [AUDIO]

Vacation is supposed to be a time to decompress, relieve stress and rejuvenate.

Flickr User Andrei Dimofte

But, more often than not, it’s just the opposite. About 60 percent of respondents to a recent survey said that taking a vacation doesn’t relieve their stress. More than a quarter said they’re more stressed when they return to work after taking time off.

“The economy has a lot to do with it. Companies are running leaner and meaner which means they’re laying off workers, but they still have just as much or more work to do than ever before,” said Rutgers Sociology Professor Deborah Carr. “So, those people who still do have jobs often have more work to do and on top of that, they feel this tremendous pressure to work really hard even when they’re on vacation to retain their job during this uncertain economic environment.”

“Technology also plays a role. We can be working 24-7 because of cell phones and laptops and the like and we expect instantaneous response from our co-workers all the time. We’ve created a culture where immediacy is very important and people just can’t break away from that even when they’re on vacation,” said Carr. “A lot of the work people do today is task-based or project-based and that kind of work can be done any time of day and anywhere, so it makes it easy to work on it while on vacation.”

“You often hear people say they need a vacation to get over their vacation,” said Carr. “Not only are people working on vacation, but being away also creates more laundry, more house cleaning and more taking care of children. On top of that, people feel guilty for working on vacation. They feel that this is the time they should be giving attention to their spouse, their children and even themselves. If they’re not able to succeed as both a good family member and as a good worker, they often come home feeling depleted and frustrated.”

How can you alleviate that post vacation stress? “I think while you’re away, it’s important to put that automatically generated message on your email that explains to people that you’re only checking your email sporadically while you’re away. This will at least bide you some time. You can also set aside a specific block of time to do work-related things, maybe one hour in the morning while the family is still sleeping or late at night. If you have it around you the entire time, you’re going to be distracted and you won’t be able to do a good job with work or the family because both are being taken care of in a distracted manner,” said Carr.

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