Wellness Tips

Burned Out? It’s Time For A Wellness Sabbatical


Black women are traditionally overworked, underappreciated, and taken for granted; it’s no surprise that many experience burnout and exhaustion. A wellness sabbatical, known as planned time away from the office or life’s many responsibilities, may solve chronic stress. 

Wellness sabbaticals include a commitment to nothing but intentional rest for at least one to two weeks, prioritizing the need to recharge and rejuvenate. Although a wellness sabbatical may be considered taboo in our community (hello, generational trauma), Black women are slowly getting on board with the concept. 

Jessica Clemons, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist, believes wellness sabbaticals will help improve Black women’s overall physical and mental health, provide the space for clarity and self-discovery, and give a chance to participate in changing the narrative of carrying the load so well, to respecting how far we need to go before it’s time to rest and reset. “As a board-certified psychiatrist, I care for people’s mental health. One of the biggest drivers for exacerbating symptoms is everyday stressors that build up over time, not to mention the not-so-everyday stressors that occur abruptly,” Clemons says. 

She continues, “Often, people lack daily practice to counterbalance stressors, such as regular exercise routines, delegating responsibilities to others, and other stress-reduction activities. Without this balance, people may experience mental illness and burnout. To manage burnout, you need to take a break from what’s stressing you; a wellness sabbatical could provide the time and space away from hectic activities like demanding jobs or never-ending responsibilities at home. Black women deserve a chance to hit a hard reset with a wellness sabbatical.”

Aside from the emotional wellness benefits, being able to rest is our natural birthright. We often don’t give ourselves the grace, or the chance to relax and unplug from societal pressures, our never-ending to-do list, or our families. Priscilla O. Agyeman, MPH, wellness influencer and founder of Saddie Baddies, a vibrant community of Black women removing the stigma around mental health, seconds the benefits of wellness sabbaticals, “Black women should take a sabbatical because we are beyond deserving of rest, softness and sanctuary. The exploitation of Black bodies for capitalistic gain and labor has resulted in Black women doing grueling work every day across all industries and sectors,” she says. 

Agyemen also points out that Black essential workers were the most vulnerable during the pandemic, risking their health and safety for the benefit of everyone else. Therefore, taking a break or sabbatical is an act of rebellion against a society that historically and currently sees the Black body as subject to limitless labor. “Resting allows Black women to rejuvenate, and recenter on a cellular level, which is crucial for healing from generational trauma,” she continues. 

Experiencing chronic stress-related health effects in the body isn’t foreign to Black women. Allostatic load is a metric used to measure chronic stress-related health effects in the body. According to research published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, stress can affect Black people at alarming rates, causing us to have a higher allostatic load score. The term weathering highlights how the constant pressure of racism can lead to worse health outcomes for Black people. For Black women, we’re due for some radical self-care. “The tension, pain, and trauma that Black women hold in their bodies can affect their DNA, known as weathering, and choosing rest is a way to allow the body, mind, and spirit to restore itself to health. Ultimately, taking a sabbatical is a necessary step towards prioritizing self-care and creating safe spaces for Black women to thrive, promoting collective healing for us all,” Agyeman says.

According to wellness and holistic nutritionist influencer Arielle Simone, Black women benefit from a wellness sabbatical because when we can focus on being more intentional about our mental, physical and spiritual health, we can nurture, heal, and empower ourselves and our surrounding communities. 

Here are some tips from Clemons on how to explore and achieve a wellness sabbatical. 

1. Start as big or small as what feels suitable for you.

2. Opt for longer rest/time away from daily stressors.

3. Use vacation time at work and consider being OOO for more extended periods than a long weekend but instead, a week or two.

4. Learn to listen to your body. If you feel exhausted, frustrated, or bored with work, you may be burned out and time away is the remedy.

5. When looking for what to do during a wellness sabbatical, consider engaging in an experience or activity where relaxation is a priority and one that can lay a foundation for daily practice when you return home. A beach vacation at a resort with all the amenities or a retreat with other people focused on wellness are also great options.

6. Take a good old girls’ trip focused on relaxation and rest, which can also provide a sense of community and accountability in the coming days.

7. Use your vacation time from work.

Remember, wellness sabbaticals intend to improve our physical and mental health. With a wellness sabbatical, we can shift the harmful narrative of being able to handle anything and everything and instead, provide a chance for ourselves to enjoy self-care. 

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