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ATD Blog

The Mental-Health Benefits of a Career Break

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

In today’s competitive world, the idea of taking a career break might seem daunting or even counterproductive to your prospects. However, for many individuals, a well-planned and purposeful career break can offer numerous benefits, particularly when it comes to mental health.

Taking time away from the daily grind can be a rejuvenating experience, providing opportunities for personal growth, self-discovery, and enhanced well-being. Additionally, a career break can allow for new experiences and skills that you can transfer into your career when you return. Undertaking a new project such as a gap year ski instructor course offers experience and new skills, and the time away from the day-to-day working life can also have a positive effect on your mental well-being.

Reduced Stress and Burnout

We can see the impact of the demanding work environments that many of us face on a daily basis on our physical and mental well-being. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by stress and experience burnout.

Taking a career break allows individuals to step back from their daily routines, deadlines, and pressures, providing a chance to recharge and regain balance in their lives. Far from just allowing someone to relax and enjoy the odd peaceful slumber, a break from stress can help reduce anxiety levels and promote overall mental well-being. Ultimately, this will make for a refreshed, productive return to the office at the end of the sabbatical.

Increased Self-Reflection

During a career break, individuals can engage in self-reflection. By taking a step back from the daily work routine, they can assess their personal and professional goals, identify areas for growth, and gain clarity on what truly brings them joy and satisfaction.


This self-awareness can lead to more fulfilling career choices and a renewed sense of purpose upon returning to work. The feeling of being stuck in a rut can be dealt with, and the break can be an opportunity to reassess and consider in detail where you want to be in 10 years.

Time for Personal Growth

A career break also offers a unique opportunity for personal growth and self-improvement. Whether through acquiring new skills, pursuing education, or engaging in self-development activities, individuals can return to their careers enhanced versions of themselves.

The career break could even allow the individual to partake in something outside of their comfort zone, and engaging in this successfully can have benefits upon return to work. Individuals might deal differently with situations that previously would have overwhelmed them, as they’ve learned how to react differently.


Enhanced Creativity

Time away from work can fuel creativity and innovation. Whether pursuing new hobbies, traveling, or engaging in personal projects, a career break allows one to explore different experiences and perspectives. As a result, individuals often return to their careers with a fresh outlook, bringing newfound creativity to their work tasks.

Improved Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is essential for mental well-being. A career break can offer the opportunity to establish healthier routines and habits. By focusing on leisure, relaxation, and self-care during the break, individuals can develop habits that foster a better work-life balance upon returning to their careers.

This can lead to a better headspace long term and a greater awareness that breaks from work are not just nice to have but essential to boost productivity and well-being.

Taking a career break can be a transformative experience with myriad benefits for mental health. It provides a chance to recharge, reflect, and rediscover oneself, leading to reduced stress, improved work-life balance, and increased creativity. Embracing a career break with a positive mindset and a clear purpose can set the foundation for a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling professional and personal life. Remember, it’s not just a break from work; it’s an investment in your mental well-being and future success.

About the Author

Gary Clark is the academy director at Basecamp, a travel company specializing in gap year adventures.

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