PEOPLE who go on holiday for one week only get three days rest because it takes four days to switch off from the pressures of work, a study suggests.
Researchers found that halfway through the fourth day of a holiday is when workers feel most relaxed and have finally unwound from everyday stress.
And with most holiday being just over a week, that only leaves a few days of real relaxation.
But one in five workers are failing to use all of their annual holiday allowance as they feel too pressured to take time off, according to new research.
And one in four of those who do take a break end up working while on holiday.
The survey of 2,021 adults for LV= travel insurance found that although the average worker now gets 25 days' annual leave each year, many fail to use all their allowance.
One in five working people will not take their full holiday entitlement this year and will waste an average of seven days' holiday each.
The main reason given by those who do not take their full holiday entitlement is they say they struggle to fit holidays around their work schedule.
One in four say their workload is too demanding for them to take a break, while a similar number say they cannot fit in annual leave days around their colleagues' holidays.
However, job security is a real concern for many with around one in seven saying they worry about being away from work in the current economic climate.
Yet even when people do holiday they are never far from work.
A quarter of those currently employed admitted working while they are away and almost a third say they spend time thinking about work on their holiday.
Most workers spend an average of three hours and 40 minutes either working or thinking about their job during their break, according to the survey.
The research also found that the average Brit needs three-and-a-half days to feel relaxed and unwind - almost half the length of the average holiday.
However, employers will not necessarily benefit from having staff who are unable to switch off from their job.
More than one-in-four workers say they feel more productive after a holiday.
Psychologist Dr Glenn Wilson recommends people take regular breaks from work to improve their work output.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Wilson said: "There is ample evidence that holidays have a positive effect on mood, well-being and health.
"However, as these benefits appear to be mostly short-lived and tend to fade within two to three weeks it is best to take a series of short breaks rather that one long, extended holiday.
"Holidaymakers returning to work are healthier, happier and therefore likely to be more productive.
"A balance needs to be struck with workers who say they are too busy to take a holiday as the strain of not having a break will accumulate over time leaving them more likely to burn out and be less effective at work."
Selwyn Fernandes, managing director of LV= travel insurance, said: "In these uncertain economic times many people find themselves not only with less money, but also with heavier workloads.
"Yet a few days off is good for our general well-being.
"With people continuing to worry about work while they are away it is important to have adequate travel insurance to take away any other holiday worries."