I have focused on things like reading (read +40 books in 2017, up from 1-2 per year), wood working, sketching, running and skiing. To keep up my programming skills I have done a deep dive in new programming languages and fiddling with some side projects. It has been an incredible year for personal development and it has changed my perspective on what things are important in life (sitting in front of a screen 40-60 hours a week not being one of them). I highly recommend everyone to do this at least once in your career!
Is that in the US? Sounds really low...
You can very much pull that off in lots of small towns in the US, but yeah, you're living a close to thread bare lifestyle.
But made an active choice to cut them out. And it hasn't been a loss for me, instead of take out I make exactly what I want (and no stress now that I have time to cook), instead of drinks out invite friends over and have a drink (cheap) at home, instead of useless things try to realize that you don't actually need them. Also living in a place with public transport helps, but I mostly bike everywhere.
But, I think doing it early (say after ~3 years) has the advantage of settling/deepening the understanding of your work. Often the early years are super hectic and you try to be your best, neglecting things like mindful reflection. I believe sabbatical can help this, kind of like how sleep organizes and "cleans up" thoughts/memories. We need both the short sleep and "long" sleep.