Need a career break? How to take a step back from work and reap the rewards

Around 90,000 people in the United Kingdom are estimated to take a career break each year, with reasons ranging from starting a family to looking after an ageing relative. 

A gap year or a sabbatical can also provide a chance to develop your personal growth, enhance your skills and create an opportunity to experience the chances of a lifetime. This article will explore the benefits of taking a ‘gap year’ during your career and how this could benefit you in the long run.

Explore new destinations and experiences 

Working full time, there are experiences and activities that it is just not possible to do. As you balance your working hours with your life away from the office, some things will inevitably be dropped. 

That two weeks of summer annual leave may simply not be enough to take in some of the experiences or visit some of the places that you want to. A round-the-world cruise is just not going to be practical with 28 days of annual leave and new challenges, such as training to become a ski instructor for example, are going to require more focus and dedication than just a couple of weeks away from the office.

Without the daily stresses of work responsibility, you can dedicate yourself solely to this and give yourself the best possible chance of a successful experience. 

Spend time with your family

Having a healthy work-life balance is a hugely important aspect of our lives. It is important for living a fulfilling and healthy existence that accommodates a happy family life. There are not many opportunities in the typical career to take off huge chunks of time to spend with a family. A couple of weeks here and there, maybe maternity leave, but they are not without stresses and of course difficulties. Life can often get in the way. 

Think about extending your maternity leave to spend time with your little ones as they grow and take them to experience things for the first time. Everyone has different circumstances, of course, but if the opportunity is viable then grasp it.

Your career will be there for you when you return, but your little ones will only be that way for so long! A career break to make those family memories can be priceless, and when you do return to work, they will live with you forever. 

You may have family in far-afield destinations that you have never had the chance to visit before. Australia for example, visiting family or friends you may feel needs more than a few weeks, and if you can support the time off, then an extended break will work for you and your loved ones. 

Improve your mental health

Work can be stressful. We spend so much of our lives there, often under intense pressure to hit deadlines and get things done. Taking a career break for mental wellbeing is actually very common, and a break from work can give you a chance to reset, offer some respite from everyday stress levels and return to work with a new focus and drive to succeed. 

We may be passionate about our careers, they can motivate us, offer wonderful opportunities, and provide the financial support we need to lead an enjoyable life in our spare time. Mental health charity Mind reports that 1 in 6 of us will experience some kind of mental health problem at work. A job shouldn’t take priority over your mental wellbeing, and a break from your career me be exactly what you need to look after your health. 

Gain a new perspective

Often, with the demands of working and everyday life, we can find ourselves on autopilot – doing the same things day in and day out. We can get caught up in the daily grind and lose track of what really matters, and what the important things are in life.

Taking a step back from work and having a break from your career can be perfect for gaining and new outlook on life. While you are away from your routine of work, and even away from your comfort zone, your new outlook may result in a clearer vision of what you want to gain from life. 

A career change could be on the cards – being in the same job for several years can become comfortable, and you may realise you need a new challenge. The new challenge could result in new work experiences and a career change that benefits you and your family. 

A career break can work for many reasons and can have various benefits for both individuals and families. Be it to care for relatives, to watch your children grow up and experience things with them or to travel the world and to places you never thought possible, the break can improve your quality of life. 

If you can support the break financially, you can reap the rewards of this physically and mentally both during the time off and after you return to work. 

Photo by Rifath @photoripey