10 March 2015

This is a guest post by mindfulness expert Paula Gardner.


Mindfulness is a huge buzz word at the moment and like anything, it can be applied to your career break.

Bringing mindfulness into your time away can help you heal after burning out, enable you to evaluate whether you’re on the right road in your career or even life, or just enrichen your whole experience and create some wonderful memories to treasure forever. Read on for how to make your mindful career break happen.

A helping hand for burn out

Whether it’s job related pressure or just a feeling of overwhelm with your current life that you want to escape, mindfulness can help.

Being mindful is about being in the now and noticing the moment and, by definition, if you do that, you can’t be worrying about what’s going to happen in the future or fretting about the past.

But mindfulness does take work. It’s more of a constant process than a state that you reach and stay at. One of the easiest ways to achieve mindfulness at any given moment is to tune into your senses. Pause and take stock of what you can see, hear, smell, feel and even taste...even if that’s traffic fumes! Noting these things by writing them in a journal or on your phone can make it even more powerful, and create some great memories for you to look back upon.

The very process of bringing yourself back into the present, and concentrating on what’s right around you can help ease that feeling of exhaustion that comes with burn out, and, if you’re feeling drained or numb, hopefully rekindle interest in all the wonderful things around you.

Taking stock

Another variation on this is to use this time to keep investigating your own state of mind.

How are you feeling about returning home? Dreading it? Missing your day to day routine and looking forward to going back? Lost and not sure where to go back to?

Journaling is a wonderful way to get through all the chaos that comes out of our own minds, and track the progress of your thoughts and emotions during this time.

Deepen your experience

Think of ways that you can continuously deepen what you are experiencing.

Tried and tested ways include getting into photography and capturing your journey visually. You can even go public and share via Instagram if this appeals.

Again, journaling is perfect, or create a blog where you talk about all the weird and wonderful people you meet along the way. The point of this is to add another layer to what you are doing, be it taking photos of every stray cat that you see or, trying every local beer and keeping notes on each of them.

Staying mindful

To get the best out of mindfulness you’ll need to make it a habit.

This is easier said than done but one tip to help you integrate it into your time away is to create triggers. Every time you sit down to eat you might take a few moments out and look at the scene around you with all your senses.

Or write a journal every morning and examine how you feel about your life (Julia Cameron talks about this technique in her book The Artists Way), or aim to take one photo for Instagram each day.

Some people may find that this sort of structure really appealing during a time when many routines and habits have gone out of the window.

Living with discomfort

Despite our fantasies, a career break may not be 100% perfect. You may get bitten to pieces by bugs, miss your cat or run out of money.

Looking around you and tuning into your senses may at times make you more aware of things, people and locations that you’d rather ignore. Tuning into discomforting times like this rather than brushing them aside and rushing onto the next adrenaline hit, can be extremely enlightening.

Examine the feelings that are being thrown up, consider if they make you want to do something about them. Ask yourself what you can learn from this.

After all, learning about yourself and the world around you, and coming back a wiser person is the very best kind of career break.


Paula Gardner is the founder of www.soothedinthecity.com where she writes about relaxing destinations, serene locations and how to travel mindfully.