When your inbox is overflowing, the boss demands another rush project on top of the 12 you\u2019ve already got going, you can\u2019t think straight and just want to escape -- it could very well be time for a vacation. In fact, it\u2019s probably well past the time when you need to get away. What are the benefits of a well-timed vacation? When do you know you really need to get away? How do you avoid the temptation to check in and do just a little work while you\u2019re supposed to be relaxing? Most of all, what do you do upon your return so you don\u2019t fall right back into the stress trap? For some answers, we turned to Joffrey Suprina, dean of the College of Behavioral Science at Argosy University. What Are the Benefits of a Well-Timed Vacation? "I like the model that looks at perceived resources to perceived demand," Suprina said. "When we start to see a higher stress load, we see more challenges. When we get into stress, it affects the brain and actually makes it difficult to think and be productive. When you start recognizing those challenges -- when it\u2019s hard for you to focus, when it\u2019s hard for you to be productive -- you\u2019re probably dealing with stress. And it\u2019s probably related to the fact that perceived demands exceed your perceived resources. Those resources may be energy or focus, a variety of different resources related to work. "What I usually suggest is some of the stress-relieving kinds of activities that you can do. However, if you find that they\u2019re very short-lived, you need a break. You need time to regroup, recharge and re-center." Rebuilding your inner reserves is among the benefits of going on a vacation, Suprina said, and it may take only a few days. "It doesn\u2019t need to be a week or a month," he said. "Three days I think is ideal. For some individuals, that means they only have to take Friday off and have a longer weekend to be able to get away and recharge. "The benefits are that you\u2019re able to regroup and refortify some of those resources that were lacking, and help balance that scale between perceived resources and demand." How Do You Know When It\u2019s Time to a Vacation? "You\u2019ll start seeing signs of stress: tension, feeling aches and pains, low energy, finding it difficult to stay focused and on task. "You can try some stress-management techniques, but if they don\u2019t work or don\u2019t last, it\u2019s definitely time to take a well-deserved break." How Do You Leave Work Behind? Leaving work behind is tough for many people, mainly because they have two competing fears battling against them. \tOne is the fear that they can\u2019t do without me, so they\u2019re going to be contacting me constantly to check in and I\u2019m going to spend my whole vacation putting out fires. \tThe opposite fear is they\u2019re going to be completely successful without me. They don\u2019t need me. "We struggle between the two and that\u2019s the challenge for a lot of people," Suprina said. "I find the best strategy is to try to set some parameters. "I encourage vacation buddies. Find someone you trust who can help cover when you are gone and you\u2019ll reciprocate by doing the same when he or she is on vacation. "Out of that, you\u2019ll set parameters for them. It might be that you say you\u2019ll check e-mail every morning first thing, say between 7 and 9 a.m. If there\u2019s an emergency, have them e-mail you before that time so you can deal with it. After that time, do not check your e-mail. If something urgent comes up in the meantime, ask your vacation buddy to text you. "Outline what is\u00a0 considered an emergency: 'Here are the type of things that you can handle while I\u2019m gone, here\u2019s what can wait until my return.' Parameters help you balance work and vacation time." What Do You Do When You\u2019re Tempted to Check In? "This helps both with stress in the workplace and stress any other time: the juggling analogy. Many people talk about juggling many different responsibilities. "The secret of juggling is to keep your eye on the ball in your hands. The balls that are in the air you can do nothing about. They\u2019re either going to fall in a place where you can get them, or not. There\u2019s nothing you can do to change that. The only ball that you can influence at any time is the one in your hand. You need to focus and put all of your attention on the ball in your hand. Then you can toss it and grab the next one. "This is one of the challenges. Many people try to keep their attention on all of the balls at once. That is stressful and crazy-making. When you\u2019re on vacation, you need to have some time when that is the only ball in your hand and you can focus on relaxing, regrouping, re-centering. Trust your buddy to handle those other issues while you are gone. "If there\u2019s an emergency that needs your attention, certain people have your contact information and the parameters you\u2019ve laid out and can handle things until your return." What If You Are More Stressed Out Upon Your Return? One of the challenges for many people and why hard workers are afraid to take a vacation is they know that when they get back, they will have a mountain of work waiting for them. They may stress the whole time they\u2019re on vacation about what they\u2019re going to come back to. Planning ahead and strategizing is the best thing to do. \tWork ahead as much as possible or try to catch up before you leave. \tCommunicate with everyone that you\u2019re going to be on vacation and what the parameters will be. \tHave a plan set up for how you will catch up when you get back to work. "People may return and have 100 to 1,000 emails and they\u2019re so overwhelmed by all of it that that they get paralyzed and can\u2019t approach or deal with any of them," Suprina said. "How do you eat an elephant? You do it one bite at a time. Take it slowly. Focus on one ball at a time." Incorporate Stress-Management Techniques Into Work It can be as simple as breath. "Breathing is helpful because in stress, we have a tendency to go toward fight, flight or freeze," he said. "All of those impact breathing. When you go into fight-or-flight, you tend to breathe quickly and get into a very excited stage. When you go into freeze mode, which is often associated with fear, that\u2019s when the breath will lock up, you\u2019ll go into a gasp and then hold that breath. "By breathing, you\u2019re breaking both of those patterns and bringing it back into a more relaxed state. You\u2019re encouraging that sort of parasympathetic nervous system where you go into a relaxation mode instead of an excited mode. "Tension in shoulder muscles is common and can lead to a tension headache. That can be from a variety of things but certainly stress contributes. There are different kinds of exercises and things you can do. I like isotonic exercises, where you go with resistance. Move your chair so that it\u2019s up against the wall and the wall is behind your head. Just press your head back into the wall. That will release the restriction in the front muscles and, in turn, free the tension in the back or anterior muscles. "Where you experience physical pain is rarely the source of the problem. It\u2019s usually the anterior muscles that are contracted that cause the tension." Other things that are helpful: \tGet up and take a short walk. Just walking around the office building a couple of times can do the trick. Getting outdoors and breathing, getting that general movement, can be very helpful in alleviating temporary stress. \tUse music as a tool.\u00a0As we begin to associate different things, it will get ingrained in our system. If you have a very stressful job, just walking into the office can cause stress. You can help combat that by having things that are associated with relaxation. Music can help fortify you. For example, certain music can remind you of sitting on a beach and relaxing on your vacation. You\u2019re able to start associating that music with relaxing on your vacation. That will help to relieve your stress and association with stress within the office. When those techniques aren\u2019t effective or don\u2019t last as long, you are definitely at a time when you\u2019re at such a high level of stress that you need more help. That\u2019s when a vacation can be vital. "Many of us feel we have to be productive 100 percent of the time," Suprina said. "The flaw in that thinking is that it can actually impede your production because you will get so stressed and become paralyzed to the point that you can\u2019t think effectively or process as well. That makes you less productive and efficient. The juggling -- if you\u2019re trying to pay attention to all of those balls in the air -- will prevent you from giving your full attention to the ball in your hand. You\u2019re going to end up dropping balls, dropping assignments." Bottom line: Your body will tell you when it\u2019s time for a break. Plan a relaxing three-day getaway with your loved one or take a short trip with friends. Incorporate some of the tips and strategies outlined here so that you return refreshed, recharged and re-centered.