Around 50% of UK employees take a career break to escape the stressors of everyday life, so if you’ve hit a plateau and nothing appeals more than taking a meaningful break, it may be time to consider a sabbatical year. From working with children in Kenya to volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa or forming part of a conservation team in Costa Rica, you can stay active while feeling that you are making a difference in the world. Of course, taking time off does not mean saying goodbye to work forever. In fact, it will help you return in a renewed, refreshed state that will allow you to be even more effective, committed, and innovative.

Stress Is An Epidemic

Four out of five adults in the UK feel stressed at least once during the typical week, while almost one in 10 are continually stressed. Money and work top the list of stressors, and the need to keep money coming in can stand in the way of taking a sabbatical. Still, a break can actually have solid returns in the long run and time off work or college to spend more tim eon yourself can be one thing you could do to manage your mental well-being. Chronic stress is linked to everything from heart disease to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, but it can also cloud your academic or work performance, freezing you in a plateau that can turn your job into drudgery rather than a vehicle through which to express your best abilities. To battle stress, passivity and dwelling on the negative won’t do; only change will make a real difference.

The Benefits Of Sabbaticals

A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that career breaks promote well-being by reducing stress, burnout, and negativity. The benefits are particularly strong in people who completely disconnect from work. The researchers recommend that when you take your career break, you should avoid using ‘electronic tethers’ such as mobile phones and email, to connect with your workplace. The study also showed that a sabbatical improved productivity once people returned to work. Researchers state that this is one reason why companies are motivating their top performers by offering them years off. The most important tip to ensure that both companies and workers benefit, however, is to “leave the employee alone” while they are on break.

Organisational Capacity Is Increased

A study called Creative Disruption: Sabbaticals for Capacity Building and Leadership Development in the Nonprofit Sector provides evidence that career breaks in the non-profit sector can yield big benefits to non-profit organisations, leaders, and those funding charitable pursuits. The study, written by D Linnel, found that those who take time off return inspired, with a new vision. The strength of the NPO is also increased, as companies create new roles and procedures to accommodate the change. Finally, those funding the projects gain valuable insight from the information, feedback, and ideas that those who have been on a sabbatical, bring home.

Whether you’re a young student seeking inspiration before attending university, or you’re an employee who is desperately seeking new inspiration, a sabbatical is a magnificent way to connect you with others and yourself. Far from being an obstacle to your career progress, a year off will enable you to bring a fresh, more creative perspective to your company. Top organisations the world over are waking up to the importance of encouraging workers to have a break: sometimes, a sabbatical isn’t simply a matter of ‘resting’, but a way of ‘recharging batteries’ so that both the worker and the company can benefit in the long run.

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