5 sure signs you’re overdue for a vacation


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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.

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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