Lots of people experience stress because it comes in many forms. You can be stressed due to either work or home stuff.

For example, not long ago, I made the decision to move to another city and state. Problems cropped up, as often happens when making a big move. They caused tremendous stress for me, but I had to keep up with my workload despite the difficulties.

Clearly your stressors will be different than mine because everyone’s work and home situations are different. Maybe you have a child who’s having a tough time making friends. Or, maybe you’re remodeling a space in your home and the project isn’t going quite right.

There could be a million different reasons for your stress. Regardless of the cause, it isn’t always possible to take a bunch of time off work for a long vacation or break. Still, there are methods to de-stress when you can’t take time off work.

1. Schedule a Future Vacation

Something that keeps me motivated and helps me de-stress is to schedule a future vacation. When I can’t take time off work and I’m stressed, it helps knowing something fun is scheduled soon.

To make sure I get my vacation, I schedule it on my calendar as early as possible. That helps me to stay focused on that goal and keep working hard. Additionally, it ensures I don’t plan other events over the top of my vacation, such as work meetings or appointments.

2. Take a Daycation

Getting through a stressful time when you can’t take time off work is tough. But you can de-stress by taking a Saturday or Sunday daycation.

A daycation is sort of like a vacation except it’s shorter. You take just the day to do something fun either on your own or with friends or family.

Taking even a short break can ease your stress levels and get you through hard times at work. When you can’t take off during the week, scheduling a one day break can recharge you.

3. Build Breaks into Your Schedule

You can also de-stress by building breaks into your work schedule. Having a few extra minutes to stretch or get up and walk around relieves tension. Not only that, but it refreshes your mind as well.

Give yourself a couple of minutes to rest after you’ve worked for 90 minutes, or more, straight. After five to ten minutes away from your desk you’ll be prepared to tackle the next project with gusto.

4. Simply Say “No”

Another way you can de-stress, when taking off work isn’t an option, is to just say “no”. When asked to do a project by friends, family, or at work, don’t take on anything extra when you’re already stressed.

Saying yes may be easier, but it will only make your stress levels higher.

5. Get a Massage

Not all massages have to last a full hour. You can schedule half hour sessions at some nearby salons as well as physical therapy centers and hospitals.

That means a relaxing massage could be set up during your lunch hour. Then, when you get back to work, your afternoon will pass with less stress and greater productivity.

stationary bike exercise workout

6. Exercise Regularly

If you want to de-stress but can’t take time off work, try getting some regular exercise. You don’t have to join a fancy gym to do it.

Head for your garage, dust off your bike, slip on your helmet, and go for a ride. Or, take a long walk in a park. You could also play Frisbee, catch, swim, or lots of other activities that are inexpensive but fun and stress reducing.

7. Request Help

Overscheduling is one of my major stressors. I always think I can get more done than is actually possible in the time I have available. The natural result of that is stress.

Yet it’s difficult for me to deny other people’s demands on my time. I’m learning to say “no” and it is getting easier.

Nevertheless, the truth is that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. In fact, it relieves stress and tension.

8. Get Some Sunshine

If you want to de-stress without taking time off work, try getting some sunshine. It’s one of the best ways to combat seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

Of course, SAD doesn’t affect everyone. But getting some extra sunshine can make even the average worker less stressed.

So, while you’re at work, sit near a sunny window or open the blinds. Pull open the drapes and let the light in. You’ll fight spring fever, the urge to be outside, and be a lot less stressed.

9. Put on a Podcast

If you can’t take time off work but need a bit of a break to de-stress, put on a podcast. You can get motivated for the day by listening to one on your tablet or phone.

There are lots of different topics to choose from that are interesting and educational. It’s even possible you’ll be inspired creatively just by listening.

typewriter fun

10. Make Work Fun

Making work more fun can also eliminate stress, add some fun, and speed up productivity. There are several ways you can add fun to your day.


When you listen to music that has a quick tempo and is fun and lively, it speeds up your work. You’ll feel a new energy and work faster than if everything is quiet and dull. In addition, your stress levels will go down.


Did you know that certain scents can perk you up when you are stressed? Diffuse mint or citrus to perk you up and make work go faster when you can’t take time off.

Inspiring Quotes

There’s lots of motivational and inspiring quotes that can help you de-stress. Just check out the internet or borrow them from your favorite Chinese Restaurant.


Adding a plant to your space can make it more cheerful. When your working environment is inviting, you won’t feel as stressed when you’re in it.

It may not be a substitute for time off, but can help alleviate tension until you can get away.

11. Stay in Routine

Many people know that creating a routine can help them be more productive and efficient. But did you know it can help to lower your stress levels too?

When you’re stressed it’s easy to slip out of regular work patterns. However, you should instead stick with what you know and usually do.

You won’t have to concentrate as hard which automatically lowers your stress levels. It saves brain power and energy for more difficult projects too.

So, when you can’t take time off work but want to be as relaxed as possible, stay in your routine.

12. Batch Your Work

Completing your work in batches is another way to reduce the time it takes and de-stress. Each time you switch from one task to another it takes time to reset yourself.

An alternative is to work on similar projects back to back. As an example, if you are working in a spreadsheet app, get everything done at once that uses that application. You’ll get stuff done faster which can lower your task list and stress levels.

13. Use Automation

Using automation will help you be more productive and de-stress at the same time. When you can set up automated process, such as automated invoicing or social media, you’ll get more done.

Automation will help you move through your work list faster. In turn, it will lower your stress and tension.

Everybody has stress in their life at one point or another for lots of different reasons. But when your work situation doesn’t let you take time off, there are ways you can de-stress anyway.