Why I took a Sabbatical
Recently, I took a 2.5 month sabbatical.
I had enough of the stress, anxiety and constant depression I was feeling. But really, it was more like my health (physically and mentally) had hit rock bottom that If I didn’t take this break, the consequences would be severe. Honestly, and ironically, I had a lot of anxiety of taking a sabbatical…and this huge wave of guilt. Funny thing isn’t it?! We are feeling like such crap, can’t go another day and when we do decide to give ourselves that space, we feel guilty. It’s ridiculous. I was afraid of what people would think. “Oh, shes lazy, she works from home, has a wonderful life. What the hell does she need a break for”. But you know what, who gives a F*** (which, by the way, is my new 2019 motto).
It had been about more than a year (probably longer), where I was grinding and making it day by day. And it all came crashing down one day. I remember sitting in my car, calling my good friend and just having a mental breakdown. I was thinking of taking a break, maybe a week off would help but realized I needed more…much more.
Quite a few years ago I had suffered through some awful depression. From this experience I knew that this little dark cloud would also be with me. Some days it would get the best of me and some days I could help combat it. I didn’t want to get back into that dark hole like I had been in years ago. So it was now or never for a beak. Let’s get candid shall we…
Why I took a sabbatical:
Stress and Burnout
This was the biggest reason. I was beyond burnt out from my job, and life to be honest. Business was going well, almost too well, and I was saying yes to everything. Yes to clients, yes to projects, yes to outings, yes, yes, yes. I was like the kid at the buffet afraid all the food would run out. Then all the sudden my life plate over piled and it was too far gone. I needed some time to truly reset. Reset my mental state. My physical state. True fact, it was honestly about a month and half into my sabbatical where I finally felt like I could breath and my head reached above water again. It takes time and you deserve it.
Balance and Boundaries
Oh the word balance and boundaries. Like most I have a love hate relationship with these words. What is balance? How do you stick to boundaries? What does it look like for myself? During my break, I really wanted to focus on these things:
Why am I so burnout?
What are my nos and my yeses?
How can I love my job again?
How can I really and truly live the life I want?
These aren’t easy questions to both answer and ask. And it definitely doesn’t happen overnight. It took me weeks to answer these honestly and really drill down on the answers.
Revisit my Business
I really wanted to spend some time revisiting my business. My business plan, schedule, rates, workload, procedures, clients…you name it. I basically pulled everything apart and looked it it through a microscope. What did I want my work life to look like? Does this align with the life I want to live? I adjusted and made it a plan.
Ugh, fertility. Debated whether to talk about this public ally but I’m hoping it can bring some relief to someone else struggling. We have been trying for about a year and half. Honestly, I could write a whole separate blog post on this but for now, I’ll keep it short. This roller coaster of a journey has been the most debilitating, agonizing, testing and frustrating thing I have ever gone through…and I honestly don’t even think we’re half way through it. The mental part that it has played on me has been extreme. I’ve lived my life in a bubble for the last year and a bit. Afraid to eat certain things, afraid to go the gym (that’s why I thought caused my early miscarriage last year…it wasn’t), afraid to drink certain things, afraid I wasn’t doing this, doing that. I was on Dr. Google constantly, drilling down to this symptom, that symptom. I sound like a crazy person but when you’re in it, you get horse blinders on and that’s it. It’s exhausting and sad to live this way. So I surrendered to this part of my life. I surrendered to it just is how it is and I can’t change the situation. I will continue to live my life and take care of myself and rest will slowly follow. Anyone going through this knows the whirlwind of emotions that come with it. With my break, I really wanted to let my body heal, by de-stressing, in hopes it would help. Help my mind, help my hormones, help my body recharge. I also needed the time to focus and complete all the fertility testing appointments I was set out to do…oh what fun!
After my time off, I can really truly say that this is the best I’ve ever felt. But it took work and I have to keep myself accountable. It won’t always be perfect but it can be close enough for now.
How you can take a break:
Recognize that you matter. Enough is enough. Recognize what your boundaries are and when you need space.
Own it and take some time. If it’s an hour, a day, a week or months…it’s your call. Don’t be afraid, you have more support than you know.
Tell your clients you’re taking time off. If you feel comfortable, you can tell them very briefly the why, but don’t feel obligated. It’s completely up to you on who you want to know. For myself, all my clients knew but only a handful of friends and family knew. Honestly, some people just won’t understand, especially family. Some family members still have no idea what I do for a living. so why would they understand my reasons for a sabbatical. You know who your tribe is.
Buy a journal. This will be your medium for all your thoughts, plans, etc. This journal is solely for personal use.
Make an intention for your break. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to unwind? If so, what does that look like for you. Do you want to revisit your purpose and business? If so, maybe taking a course or speaking a life coach/therapist would help.
If you’re taking a break to revisit your business, write down everything you want to see in your business. What problems are there currently? What are the solutions? Get clear on who your clients are, what your business mission is and why you’re put on this earth.
Make a self care list. And deposit into it regularly, even after your break. Self care could be hitting the gym, reading a book, going skiing, going for a hike, etc. Find those things and make it a requirement to do them, and as often as you can.
Take time to reflect on how you got here. How did you get to this point of burnout? Depression? Are you saying yes to often? Are you not taking care of yourself enough? Really reflect on this and make a plan to not get to this point again.
Enjoy. This time is for you and you matter. It’s that simple. Stop caring what others think and start putting yourself first.