September 15, 2009
You might think that the first day of a sabbatical would be the happiest of one’s life. No work, no worries, and a whole bunch of free time. What could be better?
But don’t be surprised if you don’t feel well in the early days of your break. Though some people sail right into sabbatical mode, you might feel nauseous, have headaches, or find you can’t eat. Some who take a reboot break find that their bodies need to “detox” as the stress dissipates. You are not alone if you find you have a physical reaction. You have operated at such a pace that your body may have a hard time slowing down. And it’s not uncommon to experience work withdrawal or contact withdrawal. Many cited email withdrawal. What a shock to go from an overstuffed email box from multiple sources to a few well wishes, spams, advertisements, and forwarded jokes. Email for some is like brushing teeth in the morning. It is one of first things tackled each morning. After getting a multitude of emails a day and needing to check email many times a day, the routine and pull is no longer as necessary.
For those finding themselves suddenly on an “unexpected sabbatical”, it may be even harder. Losing a job is traumatic to say the least and you may find yourself in total shock and feeling like you might lose your identity. This is precisely not the time to rush out to recruiters with a brushed-up resume. We found with so many of the people we have interviewed that what at first appears as a total tragedy often turns out to be the most important gift – the gift of time – that you have ever been given.
The first 30 days need to be a time of recovery, adjustment and relaxation. Each person has his or her own rhythm. Everyone goes through different phases. But expect that there is usually a period of regrouping, and one of the body recovering and recouping.