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5 tips for stress-free time off

Man looks at cell phone while on vacation

Someone needs some real R&R

From personal days to vacation, stress-free time off is vital for R&R. Time off can come in many forms. You may receive hourly PTO (paid time off), or you may be a student taking a break. Regardless of how it’s defined, everyone needs time off to recharge. Planning ahead can help ensure that you make the most of it, without leaving anything on the table. To get the time off you need, and keep it stress-free, follow these five helpful tips.

1. Understand your time off: Understanding what kind of time off you have, and how much, is the first step to maximize your time away from work or school. Review Information in your organization’s handbook, contact your HR representative, or follow your school calendar to learn what’s available to you. 

2. Plan your year: Consider the following categories:

  • Emergencies: Start by choosing an amount of time that will cover personal sickness, family emergencies, and any other situation that may arise. The amount depends on your lifestyle and family members.
  • Appointments: Think about annual health exams, appointments for children and family, and personal-care appointments. You should be able to book these appointments far in advance.
  • Observed holidays: Most organizations or schools plan time off for observed holidays or seasonal breaks. Consider leveraging an observed holiday in conjunction with time off to make the most of it. 
  • Vacation: Finally, after you mapped out the above, the remainder of your time is yours for real R&R! Review your organization’s handbook to understand if your vacation time rolls over, or if you lose it. 

3. Block your calendar and book your activities: When planning your time off, set deadlines for when you will book appointments, vacations, or other activities. Setting deadlines keeps you organized. And when you’re organized, plans you make seem to run more smoothly. 

4. Prepare to unplug: Practical planning can help you relax, and give you the support you need. Let your team know in advance when you will be unavailable. Ask someone to be your contact person while you are away. Lastly, set-up your phone and email messages to say when you will respond. 

5. Let go of guilt. You may think that taking time off would put you at a disadvantage for a raise, or leadership opportunities. Not true. Actually, you set yourself up for success. In fact, in an article written by award-winning blogger on stress management, Elizabeth Scott, PhD, notes that, “Taking a break not only gives you a chance to rest; it can also promote clearer thinking and greater productivity.” So, relax your mind, lower your stress, and give yourself a chance to recharge. You deserve it!  

Want to learn more? Go to: 


Elizabeth Scott, PhD, 2022:

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