When the going gets tough, often the first thing to fall off a youth worker’s schedule is self-care. During a busy fall, it’s difficult to take time for a break, but burnout is real. Consider the spirit of the sabbatical, a lengthy leave often given to pastors and professors. When a big break seems out of reach, take a mini sabbatical.
Mini sabbaticals cannot replace the real thing, but they can offer a respite that is a bridge of hope. A sabbath as God intends it is true rest, an absence of work or productivity that is replaced with worship, reflection, and reverence. It can act as a springboard into what comes next.
Figure out what fuels you and do more of it. Use the time you have—no matter how limited—to take better care of yourself.
If you have fifteen minutes:
- Look at vacation photos—your own or someone else’s. Visualize yourself in a restful spot. This may be the seed you need to plan an actual trip!
- Add a healthy practice to your routine: drink more water, stretch your muscles, regularly rest your eyes from screens. Small steps like these can grow into bigger and better habits.
- Stock your phone with inspiring podcasts, playlists, or poems that you can squeeze into even the busiest days.
- Enjoy a spa moment with cucumber slices on your eyes.
- Reach out to a friend. Write a postcard or make a phone call.
If you have an hour:
- Book a massage.
- Take a class—art, music, dance, foreign language. Learning a new skill alongside new people can be renewing.
- Power nap—hammocks are optional!
- Solve a puzzle.
- Immerse yourself in nature. Walk, sit, or run in solitude. Watch a sunrise or soak in a sunset.
If you have a day:
- Explore a local zoo or museum. Be a tourist in your own town.
- Read something that challenges you.
- Do something you enjoyed as a kid: skateboard, use sidewalk chalk, do cannon balls off the dock, blow bubbles, swing.
- Organize something.
- Focus on someone else—be a mentor, volunteer at an organization you love, or visit a neighbor.
- Spend the day in your pajamas.
While you are busy reminding students that they matter, remember that you matter, too. You must make the time to protect your health and well-being, especially during stressful periods. You deserve a mini sabbatical.