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A Career Break After a Divorce or Breakup

Healing, Health and Happiness

Divorce coach Liz Copeland of The Divorce Mentor (www.thedivorcementor.com) shares her thoughts on how a career break or gap year can be a healthy and healing process after a divorce or major breakup.

It can take months or even years to rebuild your life following a divorce or a break up. You might be on your own for the first time in years and now is the first opportunity you’ve had to think about yourself, and what you really want. It can also be a time when you start to question everything, and look at all your previous decisions in a new light.

"You may be on your own for the first time in years and now is the first opportunity you’ve had to think about yourself, and what you really want."

Taking a career break can be an ideal way to do this as it allows you to step away from the routine you may have shared together. And the best thing is - this career break is just about you. You can choose a restorative and healing break, like Nicole Cohen, or decide to take up an interest you never had chance to pursue before, get a taster of a career you’ve always quite fancied but never done anything about via an internships, set yourself a challenge to take your mind off the heartbreak, or decide to take the emphasis off you and volunteer to help someone else instead.

Whether you are after healing, entertainment or distraction, there are plenty of career break opportunities out there.

Physical Well Being

A career break can provide a much needed change of scene after what might have been an emotionally demanding and physically draining experience. Sometimes merely being away in a different environment can help restore your physical well-being. If you ate or drank (or worse!) your way through divorce a change of scenery might be just what you need to get back on track, especially if you combine it with some healthy eating, exercise and mindful meditation.

Restore your physical well-beingMeditation, healthy eating & exercise can help after a stressful break up

Reassess Everything

"A career break gives you time to plot, think, dream and create your future."

Taking a career break can give you that breathing space and a chance to reassess the whole of your life and not just your relationships!

You might feel like giving everything up for a brand new life at the moment, but a career break doesn’t burn all your bridges, just in case you change your mind. But it does give you time to plot, think, dream and create your future. This might be just what you need.

Taking a break is also a practical way of expressing the freedom you feel. Ultimately, one day, you have to go back to real life. But isn't it lovely, for a while, to be able to go anywhere, do anything without having to take into account the views of your ex significant other?

Give Yourself a Fresh Start on Your Return

Putting space between you and your ex, and the life you had together means that you can come back to the life you want. On your return you can chose to move jobs, areas, home, country, make new friends, or equally, stay put as your break has allowed you to recognise that there are many things about your previous life that you love and enjoy.

Enjoy your new lifeTake a break and enjoy your brand new life

But Do Be Careful...

You do have to make sure, however, that this remains a positive process and not merely a way to run away from from everything. Be aware that:

  • It can turn into shangri-la complex. You go away to find yourself and are always looking for paradise but you never find it, so can be even more dissatisfied at the end of this process.
  • It's possible to run out of money. Not so much when you are away because you can prepay flights, hotels and so on. But when you get back, if you don’t have a job, costs will mount quickly and you need a financial cushion for that.
  • At first giving up work may be a relief but you will also lose a support system, including having people you know around you and a structure to your day, such as things you have to do to get you out and about. Freedom from having to do things may feel liberating but can also make you feel aimless and lonely.

Make the Most of Your Time Away

  • Have the money set aside for your break. Flights, hotels and so on can be organised and paid for in advance. Make sure you also have a financial cushion for your return, so if you don’t get a job straight away or your new business venture doesn’t take off, you aren’t stranded. Being penniless and sleeping on a friend's floor is not fun.
  • Be careful of holiday romances – do have fun by all means but be wise. Sexually transmitted diseases know no international boundaries. The beach Adonis/Venus is great in the sun but that relationship might not work on your return. Having said that, a post-break up relationship can be healing – it's great to feel attractive again and be appreciated.
  • Set a time limit for your break and set an intention to make some decisions about your future, so that you don’t drift forever, but come home rejuvenated and refreshed.
  • Be aware of local customs and learn some basic phrases. 'Please' and 'thank you' are appreciated in any language. Do try new experiences but be aware that safety standards abroad are different. You don’t need to be paranoid, just use the sensible precautions you would take at home.
Learn some basic phrasesLearn some basic phrases to help on your travels

This is an opportunity to have new experiences and shape your future, so enjoy your career break experience!

Contributor: Liz Copeland

Liz Copeland

Liz Copeland of The Divorce Mentor offers both emotional support and practical advice to those going through a divorce or breakup, helping them make strategic decisions and stay sane at a challenging time. She lives in Surrey with her adult children, two cats, a dog and a puppy, and can be found on Google+ and on Twitter at @divorcementor.