6 Health Benefits from Taking a Wellness Sabbatical

By Beatriz Martinez

reviewed by mounir hamed

The term sabbatical is usually used in relation to the period of time away from work or studies — time normally spent on travelling, exploring the world, or trying something new. Where does the term sabbatical leave come from? According to research, it was first used and offered at Harvard University by the university’s president, Charles Elliot, in 1880. Nowadays, taking a sabbatical year between high school and college has become very popular and can be helpful to get to know oneself better, and to discover interests and goals that will shape the decisions made in the years to come. 

However, taking a wellness sabbatical isn’t only helpful at that stage of our lives; we can be consumed by our daily routines and our careers well into adulthood, and we might be in need of a change or a break. Time dedicated to ourselves can be the best form of healing. It doesn’t need to involve quitting our jobs and starting a completely different lifestyle; the solution can be as commonplace as the idea of taking the perfect vacation.

Avoiding our laptops and phones during a vacation has become an unwritten rule for a restful pause. Vacations are supposed to help us disconnect from what makes us feel stressed or overwhelmed, and give us a break from our daily routines so we can refresh ourselves. 

However, since each of us has different needs and responsibilities, the process of disconnecting from daily routines depends on the individual. Avoiding laptops or phones and taking a break from work-related tasks can be helpful for many people, but it may not be the best solution for others. 

Disconnecting from work responsibilities is not always possible and not necessarily what everybody needs; thus, our take on the wellness sabbatical also takes this into consideration. A wellness sabbatical is meant to focus on your own needs and desires, so you can concentrate on your health as effectively as possible.


What are the benefits of a wellness sabbatical?

  • Provides a time for reflection: Without the usual time constraints, people have an opportunity to reflect on their careers and the direction of their work and lives. This reflection may help to redirect their purpose and meaning.
  • Empowers you to achieve and maintain healthy habits: The purpose of a wellness sabbatical can vary from person to person, but discovering and learning healthy habits is a vital component. Finding the type of exercises you love, learning how to eat well, and exploring your passions are all roads that can lead to a better you.   


  • Resets your biological clock and improves your sleep: Having issues sleeping and coping with everyday demands can be challenging. Studies show that engaging in a wellness sabbatical can give you the time you need to rest, rejuvenate, and restore your mind, body, and spirit.


  • Provides an opportunity to gain knowledge about your own health and wellness: Besides treating symptoms, such as stress and sleep disorders, the key to a wellness sabbatical is to learn about preventive health and how you can become empowered to improve your wellness. Making certain lifestyle changes can help you prevent many diseases, such as depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and insomnia.


  • Boosts your connection with others: We can’t forget that holidays are also for having fun. During a wellness sabbatical, you can meet and engage with people who are striving to live a healthier life. Whether you go alone or with friends, it’s a great opportunity to share the experience with other people that will also contribute positively to your holistic health journey. While travelling we increase our awareness of other cultures, traditions, and routines, and we can adopt those that can benefit our own wellness.
  • Nurtures your connection with the environment: Spending time in nature can reduce stress levels and provide a feeling of relaxation. Enjoying fresh air, the smell of grass and flowers, or even the sounds of animals and water can be greatly beneficial for our health.


Tips to find the most suitable wellness sabbatical

Finding the most suitable wellness sabbatical depends on your personal needs, and what you want to achieve from the experience. These are some of the tips that can help you decide on your next sabbatical.

  • Plan your wellness sabbatical in advance: Doing your research and preparing in advance will provide a good start. In addition, it’s beneficial to set realistic expectations for your sabbatical to make sure you know how much can be accomplished during your time away.
  • Find beautiful locations: Spending time in nature can reduce stress levels and provide a feeling of relaxation. Studies show that ecotherapy can improve people’s mood, reduce feelings of stress and anger, help people feel more relaxed, and boost confidence and self-esteem. A wellness sabbatical is often taken in beautiful natural settings. Studies demonstrate that walking in nature improves our mood more than watching nature scenes or physical exercise alone. Enjoy the opportunity to immerse yourself in long walks while admiring the surroundings.


  • Look for the perfect working space: The goal of a wellness sabbatical is to achieve an optimal mind-body-spirit connection. Therefore, you don’t have to feel pressured to avoid answering work emails or calls just because you’re on vacation. If taking a total break from work generates stress, it might not be the best choice for you. Try to find a balance between your work and personal pursuits, and don’t feel ashamed if you need to incorporate work into your sabbatical.  


  • Enjoy the flexibility: It’s good to be flexible and keep an open mind during your wellness getaway. Let inspiration guide the choices you make and feel free to change your mind as you discover opportunities that are better suited to you.  


  • Taking it home: During a wellness sabbatical, you will be able to acquire the personalized skills and techniques that work best to achieve sustainable health and wellness in your life. Once the holidays are over, make sure to try and apply everything you’ve learned in your daily life.

Allowing time for your personal needs is always a good idea, especially if work is taking up more of your time on a daily basis than it should.  If that sounds like you, dedicating a few days to yourself and your wellness now and then might be just what you need.

Beatriz Martinez
I am a journalist specialised in international relations, and writing is my absolute passion. I translate my knowledge and feelings into words, a process that has become my profession and at the same time my personal healing practice. I believe that being curious about what surrounds us is the key to educating ourselves and to further being able to express it to others. I love reading and am mostly interested in politics, human rights, social movements, and the passionate world of health.

Mounir Hamed

Experienced health researcher and pharmacist with a demonstrated history of working in community and manufacturing fields. I worked in research and development, planning and production for different pharmaceutical companies. I have diplomatic experience too as I worked as an honorary consul, where I met various officials and ambassadors, and was able to strengthen relations with different countries. I am pursuing a Master’s degree in International Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). I am interested in global and digital health, and believe that everyone should have the right to live a healthy and happy life.

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Summers, J., & Vivian, D. (2018). Ecotherapy – A Forgotten Ecosystem Service: A Review. Frontiers In Psychology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01389

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