Do you worry that taking a vacation will jeopardize your job? Don't let that prevent you from getting a much-needed break. Here are three steps to take the stress out of taking time off.

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A lot of folks worry about taking time off work. Vacations are hard to schedule and hard to prepare for, and it’s hard to get caught up after you get back. Some people even worry that their absence will put their employment in jeopardy. After all, your bosses may realize they can get along fine without you.

Let’s say you intend to take a vacation. You have recognized that time off from work is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Years of experience have shown you that working without a break leads to exhaustion and chronic stress, which lead to poor health and low performance … which can lead to job loss.

Congratulations: You have figured out that vacation makes you a happier, healthier and more productive employee. But maybe you can’t help worrying about the status of your job while you’re gone. If this is you, here are three steps you can take to help make sure that your vacation is the fun, refreshing break it is meant to be.

1. In the weeks leading up to your vacation, put in extra effort at work. Don’t plan your trip on company time, and don’t go on and on about how eager you are to get away. If you discuss your time off at all, mention how refreshed and ready to get back to work you’ll be when you return. Performing at your highest level will not only remind your boss how good you are at what you do, it will help you with step 2.

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2. Before you leave, make sure that your work is organized, up to date and tidy (so people can find things if they need to).

3. The instant you return, immediately resume doing quality work. If possible, do even better work than before. Don’t drag around, moaning how much you miss the beach/the mountains/Paris/your backyard. Instead, show that you are happy to be back.

Bonus tips: If you think it’s necessary, check in a couple of times while you’re away. Also, consider writing a note to your boss thanking him/her for the time off. Good manners are classy and earn respect — and maybe even job security.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at wg@karenburnsworkinggirl.com.