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Many of us can relate to daydreaming about getting sun-soaked on a beach in the Maldives, flying off to a writer’s retreat in Edinburgh or trekking in the mountains of Nepal. As we increasingly cope with high-intensity work environments, a lopsided work-life balance and, for some of us, equally demanding personal commitments, the temptation to get away from it all can be overpowering.
Sooner or later, we have to face the idea that taking a break just might be in our best interest. When you find yourself more tired than usual at work, struggling to wake up every morning or just trying your best to keep up with daily responsibilities on multiple fronts, going on a hiatus could be one of the best decisions you ever make—and here’s why.
It allows you to reboot and refresh
A pause from the daily flow of things gives you the time that you need to rest and recuperate. While many professionals balk at the thought, it can be exactly the medicine someone needs to prevent burnout, even if you happen to be an exceptional performer. Sometimes, all the body needs is some serious downtime to reboot and start afresh. As an added bonus, time away from work could be channeled towards taking up other pursuits that are essential to achieving mind-body synergy.
More time to introspect and chart your future
Taking a career break affords you the time, space and energy you need to take a step back and comfortably assess where you are in your life and where you want to go. It’s critical to have these periodic check-ins, which can be rather hard to do when you’re mired in work. Time for self-exploration can help us figure out what we want to do with the rest of our lives.
Perhaps you could finally work on that novel that you’ve been brainstorming for ages, travel the world, or even take the first steps towards starting that new business you always dreamt of. Introspection can stimulate creative juices and inspire new ideas that could give you an edge when you decide to go back to work.
The opportunity to pick up new skills and learn something different
One of the best ways to capitalize upon a break is by using the spare time to pick up a new skill, be it learning a new language, a musical instrument, a handicraft or enrolling in some form of class. These new skills and initiatives don’t necessarily need to be aligned with your professional area of specialty. In fact, they might even come in useful when you do decide to rejoin the workforce, and broaden your horizons in ways you never anticipated, in addition to bringing a sense of contentment and accomplishment.
A better understanding of the world around you
We’re not really exposed to people while tethered to a desk and plugged into a computer, at a typical job. Even long-time colleagues may not be comfortable with familiarity beyond a certain threshold. Furthermore, certain industries operate in a rather siloed manner, with either very small individual teams, or minimal communication taking place between them. A hiatus allows us to immerse ourselves in the world around us, beyond the workplace, and enables meaningful engagement with it. Even something as simple as going to the gym for a workout or taking a stroll through a park can introduce us to fascinating human stories.
This exposure and the ensuing interactions give us a better—and more empathetic—understanding of society. It is these experiences, away from the workplace, that can shape us even further for the better, as people and as professionals.