What are the benefits of taking a sabbatical from work?

A lot of us dream about taking extended breaks from work, but it usually remains exactly that, a dream. The main reason why so few of us take sabbaticals from work is that we think we can’t, especially as not all sabbaticals are paid.

People take them for a variety of reasons such as developing work skills, so they can return to employment at a later date even more qualified than they were when they left. Or, people might take a sabbatical to travel and explore. We spend so much time working that it can be nice to switch off and take time off to explore new cultures and see more of the world. Whatever the reason, taking a sabbatical from work comes with a long line of perks:

Reduce Stress and Work-Related Anxiety

Our jobs can sometimes be very stressful and affect our mental (and physical) health. Sometimes built-up stress can manifest itself in other areas of your life. If your job is particularly stressful, this stress will continue to rise, and if you never stop to take a break, you’re not giving yourself any time to recharge.

Taking time off work allows you to de-stress and improve your overall health. You can get more sleep, exercise more and take time away from the computer, which can be mentally draining at times. If your work is tiring and you’re on your feet all day, you may suffer from back and muscle pains. Time off gives your body (and mind) the chance to heal.

Travel the World

One of the most common reasons people take a sabbatical from work is to travel more. When you’re working all year with just four or five weeks off per year, it doesn’t leave you with much time to yourself, never mind travelling. Sure, you might be able to fit a week in somewhere, but sometimes, a week isn’t enough.

A gap year or sabbatical lets you pursue your travelling dreams without the nagging thought that you’ll have to go back to work on Monday. You can hop on a plane and fly to New York or hire a car and explore Europe on a whirlwind road trip you won’t forget.

Explore New Options and Career Paths

When you’ve been working in the same job role for years, it’s normal for it to get a little … boring. You might grow tired of the same routine and wish you could dip your toes into something else. Something new and exciting that makes you look forward to waking up in the morning and getting started.

A sabbatical lets you explore new options. You can move to a new city, take a course and experience a new way of living. Who knows, you might even discover new talents and passions that could lead you down a new career path.

Spend More Time with Loved Ones

We spend so much time at work that often, it can be difficult to set aside time for the most important people in our lives. Finding the right balance between work and life can be challenging, especially if your job demands a lot of your time and energy.

Freeing yourself from the chains of your day job gives you the opportunity to recharge and reconnect with loved ones. Maybe you could all take a holiday together or simply spend more time as a family at home.

Taking a Sabbatical

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work or you just want to take a break to recharge your batteries and gain new experiences along the way, a sabbatical comes with a range of apparent benefits. However, thinking about taking a sabbatical and actually taking one are two completely different things. If you’re sure it’s something you want to do, it’s worth pushing all the fear and anxiety to the back of your mind and facing it head first.

Talk to your employer, and they might be more understanding than you think. There are even some who support and encourage their employees to take a sabbatical. These employers understand the perks of taking a break and often, find that their employees return to work much more motivated and productive than they were when they left.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.