Feeling exhausted? Let’s talk about the rise of the sabbatical

It’s estimated that today’s 33 year-olds won’t be able to retire until they are 73 – meaning that most of us will spend around 50 years of our lives at the office. That’s a long time to survive on only a couple of short breaks a year.

With more and more companies offering employees the chance to take a well-earned sabbatical, we look at some of the things you could do during an official career break.

Many people are scared by the prospect of a long break from work. But taking a sabbatical gives you the security of knowing that you can return to your job. Great news for anyone who fancies trying out new things or working out what they really want in life, without the stresses of unemployment.

There are obviously things to consider before taking a sabbatical. Many are unpaid so you will need to have the necessary means to support yourself. And make sure that you know how a period of extended leave will affect your pension contributions, and whether private healthcare or any other benefits will be suspended during your break.

You will also need to think long and hard about possible repercussions: how will you cope if the office culture changes during your absence or if your manager realises they can cope without you and makes you redundant when you return? This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly but the rewards can be huge – both on a personal and professional level.

‘There is evidence that allowing yourself adequate time to recover is essential for psychological and physical health and optimum job performance,’ explains chartered psychologist Gail Kinman.

‘Doing something different from your day job in a sabbatical has benefits for personal wellbeing and self-confidence, and can also broaden people’s life experiences, skills and outlook. All of these things are beneficial both personally and professionally.’

If you have a well-thought-out plan, there is a good chance that your manager will see your sabbatical as a positive thing that could ultimately make you a better employee. Especially if you spend your time doing the following:

Volunteer:
Volunteering is extremely rewarding on a personal level, and charities are always looking for new recruits. You could volunteer in the UK for a cause that is close to your heart or even travel abroad on a volunteering scheme. Check out organisations like VSO UK or The Leap for more information on the schemes you could join.

Travel:
How many times have you looked at other people’s holiday snaps on Facebook or Instagram and wished you could jet off to far-flung destinations? And what if you could visit all the places you’ve dreamed of seeing back-to-back in a grown up ‘gap year’? Traveling is a great way to meet new people, improve your self-confidence and broaden your outlook. Check out travel agencies like STA for more information on round-the-world trips.

Learn new skills:
If you’ve always wanted to speak fluent French or wished you could whip up a storm in the kitchen, a sabbatical could give you the chance to learn some useful life-skills. Employers particularly value languages and, if you use your time wisely, you could end up with a much-improved CV.

Do the things you’ve been putting off:
It’s all too easy to just spend your free evenings and weekends recovering from a grueling work schedule. A sabbatical could give you the chance to finally do the things that you’ve always wanted to. Been meaning to take up running and finally get fit? Always wanted to write a book? A couple of months off could allow you to do all that and more – and greatly improve your quality of life in the process. This in turn will make you a more well-rounded and contented employee when you get back to work.

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