A three-week long break. When was the last time you took one? Though we’re probably expected to take them, such breaks often come with feelings of guilt or a sense of luxury. What we sometimes choose not to see, is that downtime, be it in the form of vacation, extended leave, or a career break, is accompanied by multiple benefits.

Not convinced? Here’s some insight on how breaks are useful:

Helps develop a better sense of self. Once we set out building our careers, it’s pretty much a non-stop process, often accompanied by stress, and sometimes a feeling of being lost. It is then, that people choose to take a break. That is a time to immerse in hobbies, travel, or volunteer, and develop awareness of preferences, strengths, dreams, et al.

According to Joe O’Shea, Director of Florida State University, “We often develop most when our understanding of our self, and the world around us is challenged. When we engage with experiences that are different, and try to occupy another way of life – living with a new family, speaking the language, integrating into a new community, perhaps helping solve local issues – we find new parts to ourselves, develop insight, and resourcefulness… breaks facilitate this.”

Prevents burnout; renews motivation. Practices of work-life balance, and finding or following our calling, are much sought after. But how many of us adopt them? Chances are, we may be overwhelmed, frustrated, and moving through fast-paced days feeling like our work and our lives don’t fit.

Unplugging in this situation does wonders. It doesn’t just help us recharge, but also motivates us to reconnect with work, and renews interest. Data from the American Gap Association supports this, albeit with respect to education. Infact, research at Harvard has shown that students returning after a long break or a gap year, often outperform the others. And demands on our resources aren’t much different at the workplace!

Offers a chance to gain relevant skills. According to an article by Institution of Engineering and Technology, 65% HR executives believe that a constructive break spent volunteering or gaining work experience overseas, makes a job application stand out. Thus, in some ways, if you are looking to make a career switch, taking a break to learn the required skills could be helpful.

The way you treat your breaks, decide how they impact your work path. The choice lies with you. Make it well!

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