Stressed out and overworked? You should look into taking a wellness sabbatical.
What’s that, you ask? Believe it or not, there’s a new health trend for those who can’t take full vacations but still recognize the need to spend time healing and focusing on wellness. And it’s called a wellness sabbatical.
Intrigued? I know I was, so I decided to dive into how a wellness sabbatical works and how to plan one. And what I found was pretty interesting. Keep reading to learn more so you can decide for yourself if you should take one.
With our modern lifestyles and daily demands, it can be hard to schedule time off of work. And when you do, it’s likely for necessary appointments or to be there for your kids’ functions.
The problem with that? It can leave you feeling stressed and burned out, which only results in feeling worse and sets you up for some major health problems.
In fact, did you know that 40 percent of workers classifying their jobs as “very or extremely stressful” in a recent survey?  And 77 percent of Americans reporting regularly experiencing physical symptoms due to stress. 
Finally, up to 90 percent of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related problems, making stress a modern-day major health predicament.
So, what are you to do? That’s where the wellness sabbatical comes into play.
Wellness sabbaticals typically last for at least 21 days and teach you how to balance limited yet productive work hours with longer periods of time focusing on daily healing and wellness experiences.
That means you can take your work with you and get important things done while still having some much-needed downtime. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds because you’ll still be getting your work completed while feeling like you’re on vacation.
It’s also easier to enjoy your downtime when you’ve planned for it and you know any work “emergencies” won’t be lingering for too long.
Think about it this way: You don’t have to rush to get everything done in the days before vacation because you know you can handle things as they come up. Also, you don’t have to stress over having thousands of emails waiting for you upon your return because you’ll be tackling them a little each day during specified times.
Another perk of taking a three-week wellness sabbatical over a weeklong vacation? Since you’ll simply be changing your locale (e.g., out of the office), your manager may be more likely to approve—especially since many of us have proven over the last year that we can work productively from different locations than the standard office environment.
Worried about convincing your boss? Studies have actually shown that taking daily breaks to focus on yourself not only improves your overall health and wellbeing but also improves your overall job performance and results in less sick days! 
At this point, you’re probably wondering how this will work, right? It sounds great in theory, but what’s the practicality of it? Let’s take a look at the five steps you need to take in order to take a truly refreshing wellness sabbatical.
Whether you’re staying at home or planning to visit a tropical location or wellness retreat, there are five steps to take that will help ensure you get the most out of your wellness sabbatical.
The truth of the matter is that, as a society, we’ve been conditioned to say “yes” to everyone but ourselves.
Think about it: If your boss needs you to take on an extra project or stay late, you likely say “yes.” When your coworker needs help completing a task or learning a new process, you likely say “yes.” But when your mind and body beg for a break, what’s your answer?
In the weeks leading up to your wellness sabbatical, you’re going to need to break out habits and learn how to kindly pass whenever possible. While it can be tricky to tell your manager “no,” you can refer your coworkers to others for help.
And start setting a firm time for stopping your work each day. Learning how to step away from work now will go a long way in helping you to balance your time during your wellness sabbatical.
Do your best to clear your calendar of any meetings or conference calls during your wellness sabbatical. Or, at the very least, schedule them during a specific time of the day. This will help you free up your time for both constructive work and focus on your health during your sabbatical.
Likewise, let your friends, family, and coworkers know of your plans. Ask for minimal disruptions during your time away, so that you can truly focus on your health. You can set up specific times to check in, if that helps to relieve any anxiety about being away from those in your life.
If you’re traveling for your wellness sabbatical, make sure the place where you’ll be staying has plenty of healthy food options. That’s right—no processed food for you during these three weeks!
And if you’re staying at home for your wellness sabbatical, create a meal plan full of nutritious, stress-busting foods so that you won’t be tempted to grab something quick and easy (e.g., processed). Remember, this time is all about focusing on your health and wellbeing. That means eating only the most nutritious, clean foods.
If you’re not currently an active person, you’re going to want to research a few wellness activities you think you’ll enjoy.
Perhaps you need some relaxing downtime and feel that practicing yoga or Pilates would be a good fit. Or maybe you like moving quickly but haven’t had a chance to do it lately, so dancing would be a great option for you.
Try to make some time each day for deep breathing or meditation and practice the mind-body connection. This can be as simple as writing about your day and your blessings in a journal.
Take some time to consider what’s most important to you in your life and think of ways you can incorporate those elements into your daily life not only during your wellness sabbatical but also long-term. This will guarantee you can get the most out of your sabbatical.
If you have a demanding job, planning ahead will help with this step. The key here is to allocate enough time for both work and wellness-focused activities.
Don’t try to cram in a full day’s work in two hours—it just won’t work and will leave you either feeling stressed or unable to break away for your wellness time. Plan ahead and reschedule certain priorities to either before or after your wellness sabbatical, or plan your sabbatical during a time that’s naturally slower for your job demands.
Each day, set a specific time for work and a specific time for wellness-focused activities. Keeping a schedule will ensure you get the most benefits from this planned time and help reduce any stress that may creep in.
It also helps to set expectations with people in your life regarding when they can call. The last thing you need is someone disrupting your meditation or mind-body time.
While it’s last in my list, this step is the most important step to take during your wellness sabbatical. The whole point of taking these three weeks is to prioritize your health.
So, as you’re planning ahead, creating your wellness sabbatical schedule, and researching activities, make every decision with your health in mind. What is best for you? What makes you truly happy? What work demands stress you out the most and should be set aside for those three weeks?
These are questions to ask yourself as you’re planning your sabbatical. Also, anytime you’re facing a decision throughout your wellness sabbatical, ask yourself this question: How will this impact my health? If the answer is “negatively,” don’t do it during those three weeks, if at all possible.
If the answer is “positively,” embrace it. Remember to grant yourself permission to focus on the health of your mind and body so that you can reemerge from your sabbatical refreshed, focus, and ready to take on the world around you.