It's one thing to understand that taking time off improves your reputation (and effectiveness) at work, and that it boosts your mental and physical health. But actually claiming those days is another story. Here are a few tips for minimizing the stress around using your hard-earned PTO.
1. Plan your time away
"The single-most effective step any employee can take is to plan their time off in advance and block the calendar," said Denis. "The details don't need to be worked out, but if the calendar is not blocked off, it's dramatically less likely to happen. From there, employees should talk with their managers about their plans. There is a lot of anxiety about making multiple requests up front, but managers who need to plan against company priorities will greatly appreciate the advanced notice."
2. Pad your vacation with an extra day off
Take an additional day off work before and/or after your vacation to catch up on personal and work-related tasks. This not only ensures you utilize an extra day that may otherwise go unused at the end of the year, but also helps you ease into, and out of, your vacation time. "Don't go straight from the plane to the office," said Dr. Smerling. "Give yourself an extra day to get settled in, organized, relaxed and clear-headed."
3. Take personal care days
You don't have to leave the country or the state to claim your vacation day. You don't even have to leave your house. If your body and mental state is urging you to take some time off, listen.
4. Avoid pileup anxiety by delegating
One of the biggest contributors to not taking vacation days is the fear of work piling up, which is heightened by the assumption that colleagues won't adequately fill your shoes. "We all like to think that we are irreplaceable and that without us things will fall apart, but it's unhealthy when we don't trust co-workers and have trouble sharing or delegating responsibilities," says Dr. Lindholm.
"The desire to have complete control undermines creative and productive collaboration with coworkers, and unwillingness to delegate tasks robs your coworkers or employees opportunities for growth." When you see that your colleagues are fully capable of covering for you while you're out of office, you'll feel more comfortable taking that much-needed time off.
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This article originally appeared on NBC News.