I recently read an article by Susie Ellis (CEO of Global Wellness Institute) about a trend called the “Wellness Sabbatical.” Those two words resonated immediately — and deeply. It brought that feeling I get in my belly when I’m called to do something like start a business idea, write a book or begin something new. I found myself coming back to the article several times over the next couple of days. As a longtime entrepreneur, I’m used to creating my own opportunities so I began to imagine different scenarios about the concept of a Wellness Sabbatical.

I love the word wellness (it has been a big part of my lifestyle for three decades) and I love the idea of a sabbatical — an extended time away. Again, because I’m a small business entrepreneur, I’ve never really taken an extended time away from my business or for that matter from my kids. But my business/career has shifted over the past few years and I’m also in the “empty nester” stage of life so those two words were music to my ears — especially after 7 months of quarantine life and feeling a bit depleted and frustrated.

Susie Ellis describes the Wellness Sabbatical as, “The need to strike a balance between the pursuit of wellness and the need to work… Think three weeks (or longer) of focusing on your health and wellness — enough time to make lasting lifestyle changes… There is one significant differentiator from the usual wellness offerings: You will take along your smartphone or laptop to stay connected with your work — in fact, devices will be welcomed! At times, people who have taken (or used) their devices on vacation have been shamed, but for many, disconnecting is just not possible — and it would contribute to their already high stress levels.”

Reading this felt like a horoscope that was completely in sync. The article was written Pre-Covid-19 yet it seemed even more relevant because many of us are now working on laptops from home. We have the flexibility to work from anywhere. In fact, that seems to be a big silver lining of these circumstances. However, the travel and hospitality part has limitations and fear attached to it…but still many possibilities and some great opportunities. I had worked with Canyon Ranch in the past year (sharing my BREATHE workshops) and because of their over 40 years of focusing on wellness, I thought this was a good place to start a conversation about the concept. They were open to the idea of partnering for a Wellness Sabbatical; a first for both of us!

First, let me say that I enjoy my home life — I’m somewhat of a homebody and we had created a nourishing space for our family during the fear and uncertainty of pandemic. I live with my husband and our sons (22 & 24 yrs.). So, while I loved the wellness sabbatical idea there were also a few things giving me some angst. Like the thought of not having a kitchen — I’m obsessed with my morning tonics and superfood lattes and I spend a lot of time (actually enjoying) meal prep, cooking and creating in the kitchen. Also, I had been taking quarantine seriously and had only ventured out for daily walks on the beach (occasionally with a friend), weekly grocery run and a hair appointment in June and October. Everything else was virtual; yoga class, meetings, Breathe workshops etc. I was beginning to feel like I was on a veritable hamster wheel and getting burnt out on Zooms.

I also wondered about the logistics of teaching BREATH/Mindfulness classes in person in the age of Covid-19. But I could also see how desperately people needed these breath tools to get through the challenges. Canyon Ranch also understood the value of safely sharing breath and mindfulness tools to help people take back some control of their wellbeing during the pandemic. We spent some time brainstorming and creating the Wellness Sabbatical in a way that added value to their programming while offering me the opportunity to experience a new setting and focus on my own wellbeing. I also really needed some time to think about my business model and restructuring with tech vs. in real life workshops/conferences/retreats. I had no idea what to expect from this Wellness Sabbatical but my gut instinct knew this was an incredible opportunity to hit the “reset” button and create a special opportunity — hopefully for both parties.

Still afraid of flying, we drove the 8 hours from Los Angeles to Tucson. I’m now a week into the 3 weeks; immersed in this transformative experience. One day on a walk, I was reminded of a quote that I heard during a women’s entrepreneurial talk from Dr. David Bach; a Harvard trained scientist, physician and serial entrepreneur. As he spoke of elevating our human performance, he quoted Mark Twain, “It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Read it again, it’ll click) It makes you realize that your self-limiting beliefs are often what hold you back. Some beliefs that we (think we) know for sure… they’re not actually true. He explained that it’s never too late to change your brain and reprogram negative thoughts/beliefs with empowering ones. It was time for me to come back to this quote and reassess what beliefs I was allowing to keep me in a comfort zone vs. evolving and growing in this new world.

6 Inspiring Perspective Shifts After My First Week of Wellness Sabbatical:

  1. I Needed to Slow My Pace. I tend to be happier with things at full throttle, lots of opportunities in the air and forward motion but that wasn’t sustainable with the new amount of attention I had to pay to technology. I was burning out. Now, my spirit animal is a turtle! I’ve come to appreciate the pace and ease of motion that turtles embody thanks to the ponds here at Canyon Ranch.
  2. Comfort Foods Comfort Only in the Moment..then they cause guilt, weight gain and gut issues. I had been living in yoga clothes — no dressing up for date night, no in person meetings or conferences; only being seen from the shoulders up on Zoom. No buttons or zippers. I had gone overboard on sourdough, baked goods and anything chocolate. I was numbing myself with food and actually needed to spend less time in my kitchen.
  3. We’re Wired for Human Connection. I’m an introverted extrovert. I love people but I also appreciate quiet, alone time. I was “connected” to people daily with my virtual workshops but it wasn’t the same as in person energy. Since May 2019, I had been on the road for my book tour (Breathe to Succeed) and felt so fulfilled after connecting IRL (in real life) with such a diverse group of people while sharing BREATHE workshops. I enjoy meeting new people and was missing that energy. Since March, I was spending more quality time with my family which also felt very special but since getting here I’ve seen the benefit of expanding my “pod” a bit. Even masked, I’ve made new friends that I know I’ll keep in touch with after we leave here. I look forward to seeing their smile sometime but it’s been so mood boosting to have the ease of time to chat with people around the property on walks, at my classes, picking up coffee/juices etc. It’s so good to ease back into some socialization.
  4. We Can Communicate Through Masks… it just takes speaking up: When I first began wearing a mask in my neighborhood I felt a sense of anonymity and that feeling led to not acknowledging others as I normally would when passing on the sidewalk or in the grocery line. I was too focused on the fear of droplets in the air that my regular happy, social self hid behind my mask. Here, I’ve learned to speak up. Since I’m also doing my workshops with a mask on, it’s especially important to let people know — Hey, I’m smiling under this. I’m glad you’re here and I see you even behind your mask. We can still converse and connect even though our mouth is covered. This is going to be the new normal for a while, so I’m getting better at speaking up instead of looking down.
  5. There’s Some Extra Time When You’re Not at Home: I’m not meal prepping, cleaning, doing laundry, dishes etc…This has meant more time for reconnecting with family and friends via phone, more creativity, more time to read, listen to podcasts, watch inspiring shows, rest my eyes, relax, unplug, think and plan.
  6. We Need to Create Our Own Opportunities… for evolving and pivoting in this time of change: We’ve all become entrepreneurs by default due to Covid-19; forced to create a new ecosystem for work and life. Are we working from home or living at work?! As an entrepreneur, you must create your own business opportunities too as most industries are somehow impacted. Leadership requires a new kind of awareness. Teamwork feels different. There are limitations for safety. During these times of high stress self-care, wellbeing and mental health must be a priority. There’s an adage that says, “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to make time for your illness.” I know, this doesn’t mean spending three weeks at a spa; but it means creating simple and nourishing moments throughout your day to take care of yourself. Be more self aware of the effects that this time can have on everyone; loneliness, a sense of isolation, depression, fear. Reach out to people regularly. Those who you may think are not affected may indeed be suffering.

Rachel Gutter, President of IWBI (International Well Building Institute) says, “The mental health crisis will be the second wave of this pandemic.” Let’s begin to mitigate this now. You can open your mind, shift your perspective and find small moments to rest, pause, regroup and uplift.

This leads me to asking you some questions to help shift your perspective and open your mind to new ideas:

*What do you need right now?

*What does your 2021 look like?

*Are you happy with your work/life set up?

*What are your priorities?

*What can you do to take one step forward in setting up something that makes you excited about 2021?

At this point, it’s up to you to create what you need. Shift your perspective to see things in a new way. As Astro Teller (CEO of Google X) says, “Perspective shifts will unlock more than smartness will.” You may feel like you know everything there is to know about how/where you work and live — but with a new perspective you may find next level happiness and fulfillment that you never would have imagined if it were not for these unprecedented times.

Question your beliefs about what life has to look like. What do you “know for sure that just ain’t so?!” Remote work offers all sorts of new opportunities. Get creative. Breathe new goals to life! Get optimistic about 2021. Embrace your new entrepreneurial mindset. Set yourself up for success. We’re all in the “start up” phase of what will hopefully soon be “Post Pandemic” life.

If I can help you create something unique for your situation or help you to develop a more optimistic mindset with breath & mindfulness, please reach out! I’m here for you. Now that I feel rested and am seeing things in a new light — I’ve got even more to give… thanks to my two new favorite words: Wellness Sabbatical.

*Email: [email protected]


  • Sandy Abrams

    Longtime Entrepreneur, Author of "Breathe to Succeed," Founder/The C.E.Om


    Sandy Abrams is a longtime entrepreneur. Her first book, Your Idea, Inc. (2010) inspired other first time entrepreneurs to turn a product idea into a business. In Breathe to Succeed (2019), she shares her 30 years of experience utilizing the power of breath & mindfulness in business and life. Sandy has a unique business sensibility about utilizing breathwork as meditation in small moments.  She has shared her "Breathe to Succeed" workshop experiences with Google offices, WW (formerly Weight Watchers), Universal Music, Facebook HQ, McKinsey & Co., Pepsi, Women Presidents Organization, Canyon Ranch, YPO, Pepsi, women's and entrepreneurial groups and business/wellness conferences. She was also slated to speak at SXSW 2020 and Co-Chairs the new BREATHE Initiative for the Global Wellness Institute. Sandy is on a mission to empower people to create their optimal mindset and energy for success & wellness...one deep, mindful breath at a time!