How to Unwind During a Week Off Work

Three Methods:Preparing for Your Time OffUnwinding at Home While Off WorkRelaxing While on Vacation

Sometimes it can be difficult to actually relax when you finally get some time off. Whether you are at home or travelling, you can take some basic steps to help ensure that you can actually unwind, relax, and enjoy your time off instead of stressing out about all the other things that are going on in your life. Preparing for your time off will help you to relax when the time off finally comes.

Method 1
Preparing for Your Time Off

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    Finish projects before you leave. If you have a project hanging over your head during your vacation, you will not be able to relax. Finish major projects before you leave, even if it means working more. You’ll thank yourself later. [1]
    • Leave your team ready to continue in your absence. Before your vacation, spend the previous week making sure everyone else has what they need to do their jobs well. With everyone else able to continue getting the work done, you do not need to worry about it yourself.[2]
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    Write a plan for the work you need to do when you get back from vacation. If you have a plan for getting the work done, you will not feel overwhelmed by it. If your plan doesn’t include working on your vacation, you can reassure yourself that as long as you stick to the plan, it will get done.
    • Your plan should be specific. Include precisely what work will get done and when you will do it.[3]
    • Part of the stress of leaving work is the uncertainty about work that still needs doing. Your plan will help remove that uncertainty.
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    Set an out of office auto-reply message. You can set up your e-mail to auto-reply to e-mail you receive. This will let people know when you will be back and when they can expect a reply. This saves you from having to worry about unanswered e-mail.
    • Specify that you will not be able to check your e-mail for the entire duration of your time off work. This will help give you the freedom from feelings of obligation to check and respond to messages. [4]
    • Setting up the auto-reply message will depend on the e-mail client you use. Regardless, it is a simple process.
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    Leave work at work. This can be easier said than done. However, one of the most stressful things about a vacation can be thinking about all of the things that need to be done when you return.
    • Leave behind any physical work (e.g. paperwork), in the office. If you take it with you, you will feel pressured to work on it.
    • If you're really inclined to bring work home, lock it into your filing cabinet or cupboard at work and give a co-worker the key. Tell them to give the key back to you only when you return to work.

Method 2
Unwinding at Home While Off Work

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    Go to bed early. It can be easy to go to sleep late when you do not have to get up for work the next day. However, rest is an important part of unwinding. Create a bedtime routine during your week off. [5]
    • Sticking to a routine will help get your brain in the mindset that it is time to sleep.
    • Turn off lights, leave your electronic devices in another room and shut the shades or curtains. Remove as many distractions as possible to help get sufficient sleep. [6]
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    Exercise. Go for a run, jog, or walk. If you have a gym membership, go to the gym. Working out can relieve tension and help you get out of your usual routine. If possible, run or walk in your community, rather than indoors on a treadmill or track.
    • Studies have shown that as little as 20 minutes of exercise per day helps encourage relaxation[7]
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    Pamper yourself. Take some time out to treat your body as well as seeking to relax your mind. The two aren't always separate!
    • Get a massage. Massages help your mind to relax, in addition to your muscles [8]
    • Take a hot bath. [9]
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    Do things outside your normal routine and activities. Occupy yourself with unusual activities that break up your usual daily rhythm.
    • Do puzzles, crosswords, and play board games. You'll enjoy the different sort of intellectual stimulation.
    • Spend some time learning a new hobby like knitting or playing a musical instrument. Completely engaging our mind in something actually helps us to relax. [10]
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    Catch up on projects around the house. You have time off, but that doesn't mean you can't get some things done. It can be relaxing to get projects done that have been lingering for a long time.
    • Take an afternoon and finally clean our your basement or attic.
    • Put photos from your last trip in a photo album.
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    Invite friends over dinner and a movie. It can be difficult to find the time to have social events during your regular work schedule, so find time for them during your week off.
    • Try making a new food or dish you have been wanting to try.
    • Play some board games for a fun group activity

Method 3
Relaxing While on Vacation

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    Schedule in transition time. Instead of leaving early the first day you have off from work and returning late the night before you have to go back to work, consider leaving and returning a day earlier. You will have less time at your destination, but you will not have to rush, and will be able to enjoy your vacation more.
    • You do not have to leave a full day later or a full day sooner. Even considering the time of day you will leave or return can make a big difference. [11]
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    Avoid technology. Our laptops, smartphones and other devices are often associated with work. When on vacation, leave them behind whenever possible. Try not to check your work e-mail, and check your personal e-mail only rarely.
    • At night, keep screens off and phones away from the bedside. The light from devices can throw off your sleep cycles. [12]
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    Do fewer things, but spend more time on them. Your vacation should not be a checklist, but rather an experience. It is easy to let your vacation become like work. Try to deliberately schedule fewer things than you have time for, and then spend more time on them.
    • Take the time to do one thing per day and enjoy it, instead of rushing around to several attractions just to have seen them. [13]
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    View your vacation as an experience, rather than a task. That experience begins with the planning and continues after the vacation is over when you remember it. Studies show that a lot of happiness comes from planning vacations, so let yourself enjoy the anticipation.
    • Studies also show that experiences tend to lead to more happiness than material things. Focus less time on getting the photos and souvenirs. Instead, focus on being in the moment an experiencing things.[14]
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    Avoid social media. While it can be tempting to tweet, share photos on facebook, and otherwise keep in touch with your friends, it can quickly turn into an exhausting task. Put down your devices and avoid social media until you return. There will be plenty of time to show off those photos later.
    • This will also help you avoid instances where social media overlaps with work, and therefore brings you back into the work world.
    • Consider destinations that do not have good cellular service, data connectivity, and internet access. Although it can feel odd to be disconnected, it also helps you relax. [15]
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    Try new activities. Vacations are a great chance to try something new. Try something you can’t normally do where you live, like water skiing. Doing something entirely new can help you break out of your normal routine and embrace the moment.
    • You do not need to try things well outside your comfort zone. Instead, choose something that sounds enjoyable and fun. You don’t need to push yourself. Just do something new. [16]


  • If you can't seem to settle down, try going for a walk in the fresh air to clear your head. Along with helping your mental health, it benefits your physical health.
  • Don't ever think or worry about your work during your break. Just relax and everything will be fine.
  • If you're expecting an important call or e-mail during your time off, screen your calls, and only open an e-mail if you know for sure it's very important. If possible try to schedule important communications for before or after you leave.


  • It might be best to break out of your slower paced routine a day or so before you have to go back to work - just so going back to a fast pace doesn't come as a shock.

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