I'm sure many of us remember the culture of working long hours, keen to be recognised as the first to arrive and last to leave each day. It didn't matter if the hours in-between were spent looking busy. We were there!

These days, with so many of us hot-desking, working from home or travelling from meeting to meeting there's no time to 'look busy' as we've often very little time to waste. Interestingly a recent TUC survey revealed that £32 billion of unpaid overtime was worked last year.

No wonder stress costs UK businesses £40 billion in lost productivity, due to absenteeism, accidents and poor performance. Taking breaks and holidays is important in managing stress, self-care and wellbeing. Why is it then that two million workers, or one in 14, fail to use their full holiday entitlement?

Is there more pressure around? We all want to do a good job and with appraisals and performance reviews likely to affect our salaries and progression there can be the additional concern to always be available, not let someone else cover our role, do a better job or maybe uncover mistakes or inefficiencies.

Revise your perspective on holidays;

Decide how you'd like to spend a week or two, what you'd like to do whilst away. Whether single or partnered, with or without children it's important to include your wishes. Stop focusing on what's happening at work.

Avoid using holidays for chores.There's some merit in allocating time for decorating or gardening but equally find a location, hobby or interest that appeals; maybe a group holiday for special interests like walking, or even a retreat. Investigate what excites or inspires you.

Use your holiday as time to really focus on yourself and/or family. Do enjoyable things together and recommit to your relationships; they're often the reason why you work so hard, to make a good life and provide for them. Discuss ways to maintain fun and closeness post-holiday, by sharing regular family meals, hobbies and interests.

Use breaks and holidays to switch off the adrenalin and distance yourself from routine cares and stress. We can become habituated to being hyper-vigilant, constantly reacting to whatever's happening. Adopting a post-holiday, relaxed approach helps you benefit by responding in a more pragmatic, effective way.

Switching off with breaks and holidays pays dividends in improved health and quality of life. So make sure you take your holidays.

Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor. Author of 3 books on Amazon.For more information visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net