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Shaking Up Your Routine: Exploring the Rejuvenating Benefits of a Mini Sabbatical or ‘Adult Gap Year’

When the stress of daily life becomes overwhelming, the idea of taking a break often conjures images of a brief vacation or a weekend getaway. However, for some individuals, the desire for respite goes beyond just a few days off. They seek longer and more varied periods away from their routine, embarking on what are commonly referred to as mini sabbaticals, adult gap years, or simply gap months. These extended breaks can range from quitting a job to taking a leave of absence, to working remotely in a different location to experience a new lifestyle. The goal is to step out of the expected and recharge both mentally and emotionally.

While the concept of taking extended breaks is not entirely new, the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic prompted more people to question the traditional ways of working. Barry Kluczyk, a public relations professional from suburban Detroit, had long dreamed of spending more time in Seattle. It was only when the pandemic forced him into fully remote work that he felt empowered to spend a month there with his family. They enjoyed the experience so much that they embarked on another mini sabbatical in Portland, Maine, the following year.

Interestingly, more companies are now offering breaks as a low-cost solution to address employee burnout. Kira Schrabram, an assistant professor at the University of Washington and a leader of the Sabbatical Project, highlights the growing recognition among companies that burnout is a significant issue that needs to be addressed. However, American attitudes toward taking time off still differ greatly from those in Europe, where vacation time and rest are valued more highly.

For some individuals, extended breaks come as a result of unexpected circumstances, such as a layoff. Roshida Dowe, who found herself suddenly unemployed, decided to embrace the opportunity for a break before seeking her next job. Inspired by her experience, she co-founded ExodUS Summit, a virtual conference and community for Black women interested in developing plans for location, financial, or time freedom. The summit aims to provide practical advice and support for extended travel, covering topics such as finances, safety, and the value of rest.

Cost can often be a barrier for those considering a break, but there are creative solutions available. Stephanie Perry, who teaches budget travel, emphasizes options such as housesitting and home exchanges as affordable ways to make extended travel feasible. Similarly, Ashley Graham planned a road trip through the South by visiting friends who offered free accommodation along the way, allowing her to reconnect with her past life and ultimately relocate to New Orleans.

For many individuals, the decision to take an extended break leads to a shift in perspective and a reevaluation of their priorities. Eric Rewitzer and Annie Galvin, owners of an art gallery in San Francisco, entrusted their employees to run the gallery while they spent a summer abroad. This experience helped Rewitzer realize the importance of work-life balance and led them to make significant lifestyle changes, including relocating to the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Similarly, Gregory Du Bois, a former IT professional turned life coach, made taking extended breaks a regular part of his career. He negotiated for extended time off with each new job, recognizing the importance of spiritual regeneration and personal growth. For Du Bois, mini sabbaticals were not just about taking a break; they were integral to his overall well-being and fulfillment.

In a world where the lines between work and life are increasingly blurred, the concept of taking extended breaks offers individuals the opportunity to step back, reflect, and rejuvenate. Whether it’s a mini sabbatical, an adult gap year, or simply a gap month, these breaks allow individuals to break free from the constraints of routine and explore new possibilities, ultimately leading to personal growth and fulfillment.

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