There were many different reasons to take this sabbatical. To have a change of scene was one. Not to work was another. To satisfy my curiosity about the world – see how people live in other countries. Another important reason was to seize the opportunity: as we have no kids, house or mortgage, now was the time. And I simply wanted to relax. Take a step back. Unwind.
It is the unwinding that surprised me in many ways.
I had not expected that it would take me many months to get rid of the (work) stress I accumulated over the past years. This last year, whenever I thought I was relaxed, it seemed possible to reach a deeper state of relaxation that I did not even know existed. Either unconsciously (by sleeping, hiking, laughing, being out of the rat race and away from societal pressures) or consciously (through yoga, meditation, massage) I was able to undo these different layers of tension that apparently were more entrenched than I realized before embarking on this trip.
And it starts to make sense now that I think of it.
On the one hand, traveling can be quite intense and is not a solid recipe for relaxation if you ask me. On another, I wonder: did I ever in the past take a proper break? A break that lasted longer than a few months? A break in which I did not spend my time achieving something? (I remember several holidays that were so active that another holiday was needed.) And while studying and working; was I always ‘hamsterwheeling’? Was I doing one thing at a time or multi-tasking? And did I take mini-breaks on a daily basis? Well…
Knowing my answers to these questions, maybe I should not have been so surprised that unwinding can take many months. A lesson learned.