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Working during vacation time keeps you exhausted, study of teachers shows


Photo: Claudiad/iStockphoto

London — Although spending time on work-related activities while on vacation can help reduce your anxiety levels when returning to the job, it also impairs recovery from work exhaustion, results of a recent study out of England suggest.

Researchers conducted weekly surveys of 90 full-time school teachers in the United Kingdom over an eight-week span: before, during and after their school’s winter break.

They found that the benefits of vacation time are likely to diminish when employees think about job-related issues or engage in one of four different activities:

  • Actually working
  • Checking email
  • Preparing or finishing work
  • Speaking to colleagues about work

Doing these things hindered an educator’s ability to recover from emotional exhaustion – raising the potential for job burnout.

While on vacation, the teachers experienced reductions in anxious mood (23%), exhaustion (21%) and depressed mood (7%) when compared with being at work. The most rapid post-vacation increase was in anxious mood, which returned to regular work levels within two weeks.

To help limit time spent on work tasks during vacations and achieve restorative benefits, the researchers suggest that, for occupations that commonly have job demands that spill over into vacation time, “there could be utility in training employees to be more effective and efficient when engaging in supplemental work tasks during non-work time.”

The study was published online in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

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