5 Sure Signs You’re Overdue For A Vacation

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

Is it time for you to take a vacation? Here are five signs you need one, stat!

1. You can’t seem to get into your job. Codes leave you cold. You’re having trouble getting up in the morning, and nothing feels as important as it used to.

This is classic burnout. You need to spend a week or two someplace totally different, where you won’t be asked any medical questions or need to get up at any particular time.

2. Conversely, you’re getting way too into your job. You’ve just started a new home-study course on head transplants, you’re the acting president of your unit’s governing committee and you’re working overtime.

This is not good for anybody. What you need is a week at home without checking your work email or answering your phone. Sometimes it’s nice to remember what your home looks like.

3. You feel like punching people in the face more than usual. A certain degree of punchiness is normal for nurses, but feeling that way all the time signals a need for a break.

You need a few days playing tourist in your own town. Take off for a long weekend, put on comfortable clothes and hit the used bookstore. Have dinner in that cool restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. Go to the park. Do not, under any circumstances, hang out or have dinner with people from work.

4. You feel the sudden urge to clean your house top to bottom and make a huge drop-off at Goodwill.

By all means, do that. When you have a physically and mentally taxing job, you occasionally have to do major triage on yourself. If you’re looking around your place and thinking, “I have too much *#^&,” it’s time. You’ll go back to work with a clear head and a light heart.

5. You can’t remember the last time you had fun.

This is particularly true for student nurses and new nurses. The pressure of school and the transition to nursing can be harrowing. You don’t need to take a lot of time off; just trade a day with a coworker so you can go dancing to that kick-butt polka band. Have a late breakfast the next day with all your favorite foods and some really good coffee. You’ll feel so much better.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. Classic burnout…..is more than meets the eye here. A good manager sees this in their staff and encourages them to refresh. Sadly those a few and far between. They also are under constant pressure to perform and quite possibly managing more than one Unit. Hospitals are corporate now and feelings are low on the priority list. So easy to say….take TWO weeks off?? Most RN’s are lucky if they get barely a week which is usually a long weekend extended! Hospitals don’t staff for replacements and nurses are in short supply in most places. Nurses are dealing with PTSD in many cases also, but no one seems to care and its a buck up attitude of coldness and move on already statements that keep nurses down to. Just what they want….humble tired nurses keeping the wheel turning and making no waves. Some Administrations see them as necessary evils to deal with while they’re crunching their numbers and looking at cutting staff. Yes, nurses are burned out, underappreciated and expected to do jobs from mopping floors to saving lives; and if they don’t, they’re written up. As a nurse who’s still working 45 years in, I had hopes that nursing would somehow be recognized for what and who they are, and things would change. In many ways its much worse. The only one plus, was a Union that at least gave nurses some rights in their practice to maybe take a vacation without guilt. Plus many other issues from overtime, breaks, seniority and more. Its sad and most of us have had wonderful experiences in nursing. For many of us older nurses, it was like a calling, a desire to take care of others from spiritual standpoint. A gift of a kind and healing heart caring for others is priceless but not celebrated. Nurses Day in many institutions is lumped in with Hospital Day. I say to those who still feel this way. Please hang on and keep trying to stop the corporatization of Nursing. Guard you heart and soul. You are special. Hold your head high and never let them diminish what you do or are. 🙂

  2. Most of the time, I love my work as a nurse and am the spirit of compassion. I have no regrets about this work and most of the time I’m filled with gratitude, love, smiles, and giving out hugs. However, I haven’t taken a vacation in almost 18 months and find myself being annoyed at people for getting themselves sick. I give the anti-smoking lecture with more rage than caring. When the violent-suicidal-baker-act-trying-to-bite-and-scratch-me-chick or drunken-under-arrest-rage-calling-the-PO-a-tiny-d&ck-MFer-guy mostly just make me want to let natural selection work, I know that it’s time to take a giant step back and refresh my batteries. When the diabetic in DKA comes in after years of self abuse and asks, “why is this happening to me! What did I do to deserve this? Why does God hate me?” and I have to bite my tongue off the keep from telling them the honest truth in a brutal, mean-girl manner. I still do my job well, but the positive attitude and smiles are harder to conjure because they don’t come from a place of honesty. Luckily, vaca is on the way i a few weeks. Recharge time is how nurses have the strength to face the worst of humanity and not develop a substance abuse problem.


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