Is a Gap Year Right for me? How to Know if You Need a Break

Taking a gap year can be a stressful decision, whether you need a break for mental health reasons or just time to reset. It is important to plan out what you are going to do during your time off so it can be both productive and enjoyable. If you are considering taking a gap year but not sure where to start, this guide is for you.

Early adulthood can be a very uncertain time. An increasing number of college guests and recent graduates are choosing to take some time off in the form of a gap year or a mental health break. For many it can be a formative experience that provides skills and experiences to last a lifetime.

At Skyterra Embrace, a wellness retreat for young adult women, many guests choose to attend during their gap year as a way to focus on wellness while being productive and having fun. At Embrace, guests work to live fully and find self-worth as they discover who they want to become.

What is a Gap Year?

Gap years have been common in places like Europe and the United Kingdom for more than 50 years but they are still a novel concept in the United States. A gap year can be:

  • A break before starting college
  • A break from the academic and social rigors of college
  • Taking some time off after graduation or a timeout in a person’s early career.

Depending on when they decide that they need to take a break, the motivations can be different but ideally the result is the same: the chance to build life skills and gain perspective by taking some time off the traditional track.

The time necessary to achieve these goals can also vary. A gap year doesn’t necessarily have to be a year. For some it might be a good idea to take only a few months away while others might need to take more than 12 months. These decisions can depend on one’s financial situation, as well as what they are hoping to accomplish during their time off.

Can a Gap Year be Beneficial? Yes, as a Time to Gain Real World Experience. 

A 2020 survey conducted by the Gap Year Association found that 98 percent of those who experienced a gap year agreed that it increased their maturity, and 97 percent found that the experience had increased their self-confidence.

The pressure-filled world of traditional academic life often overlooks important aspects of personal development. In fact, the sheltered world of college is often designed to shield guests from the type of real-world experience that helps prepare them for more than just a career. With the right mindset, guests may find themselves developing more useful skills and habits from a gap year than could be found in a college classroom.

At Skyterra Embrace, we help guests make the most of their gap year. Our retreat empowers guests to prioritize stress management, healthy relationships and adventure. Guests who choose to spend their gap year at Skyterra Embrace are able to get the most out of their break as they focus on their personal growth, including college and career preparation, leadership development, finances and budgeting, and much more.

How Do I Make Sure My Gap Year is a Success?

Success ultimately depends on what one wants to get out of your gap year. There are three key ways to make sure your gap year is on the right track:

  1. Plan on learning. Learn life skills that you can’t get in an academic setting. Traditional education is extremely important. However what schools often lack are the types of classes that teach guests how to be successful in the real world. Throughout a gap year it is important to continue education, just in a different way.At Skyterra Embrace, we help guests learn life skills by teaching them how to plan for, and live out the vision for their future. Through one-on-one time with therapists, Embrace teaches healthy coping skills as well as communication and interpersonal skills. guests learn important life skills like budgeting and finance as well as smaller everyday skills like how to jumpstart a car. These topics are generally not covered in an academic setting, making them a perfect fit for making a gap year worthwhile.
  1. Practice discipline. Create a routine that you can stick to, and commit to forming habits that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Having a routine keeps you on track both mentally and physically which boosts productivity and positivity. Routine also allows you to organize your time around the things that you feel are important, leading to increased feelings of fulfillment.At Skyterra Embrace we help guests practice discipline by giving them an active schedule full of daily physical activities like yoga, fitness, mindful walks and hikes. We also offer lectures and discussions on techniques to improve discipline through mindful eating, stress management, self-care and sound sleep.
  1. Build confidence. Gap year is about leaving your comfort zone and entering your growth zone. Put yourself out of your comfort zone by immersing yourself in real-world situations and communities. Finding yourself in a new environment will be stressful at first but techniques like turning fear into excitement, writing down goals, and reflecting on your day will build confidence during your gap year that will last a lifetime.At Skyterra Embrace we help guests build confidence from the moment they step onto campus. Embrace provides access to weekly private therapy sessions to increase mindfulness, resilience and positive thinking.

Is Skyterra Embrace the Right Fit for Your Gap Year? 

Skyterra Embrace helps young women build confidence and learn important life skills. Time at Skyterra Embrace includes weekly progressive movement classes, therapy and discussion groups, nutrition education, culinary skills, fitness education, useful life skills, multiple off-site hikes and outdoor recreation, dietitian-led grocery store trips, and community dinners. Adventure activities help Embrace guests challenge themselves and build resilience.

A guest who spends part of their gap year at Skyterra Embrace will leave their gap year having accomplished small and large goals. To maximize the benefits of a gap year, the program at Embrace allows guests to explore their interests and motivations in a safe environment while also teaching skills that promote discipline. Skyterra Embrace offers hands-on integration of healthy life skills including education and career planning to give guests a headstart on life after their gap year.

Skyterra Embrace is here to help guests navigate the stresses of young adult life. If you think Skyterra Embrace might be right for you, please call 828-521-0918 or click here to receive more information.

Posted in ,

Greg (MSW, LCSW, LCAS) is the Executive Director of Skyterra Embrace. Through his work with people living with trauma, attachment, substance abuse and addiction, and other mental health difficulties, Greg enjoys creating opportunities to encourage growth and development. For more information on Embrace, click here.