For most of us holidays and time off are a time to recharge our batteries and chill out. For some people though, as soon as they stop work and try to relax they get ill.
Are you one of those people lying on a golden beach, blue waves lapping at your feet with a splitting headache? Or have you missed Christmas lunch as you are in bed with flu?
People who are never sick in their working week come down with headaches, colds, sickness or fevers as soon as they leave the everyday stresses and strains behind.
This is known as “leisure sickness”, a phrase first coined by a psychologist in the Netherlands.
Ad Vingerhoets, said that people suffering from leisure sickness typically had a stressful job and they simply couldn’t switch off, which triggered a whole host of symptoms.
His research found headache and migraine were the most common ailments for weekend sufferers, followed by fatigue and muscle pain. During holidays, they often had cold and flu-like symptoms.
When the pressure is off, people get ill
Professor of organisational psychology at the University of Lancaster, Cary Cooper, says leisure sickness usually happens to people in really pressurised jobs.
“Your immune system is stimulated by the pressure, so when you have deadlines your body knows you can’t get ill. When you take a break your immune system just thinks – no more pressure. I can get sick now.”
When you stop working he says: “It’s like a fuse, with your brain telling your body it can switch off, so you get a cold or a headache.”
Stress counsellor and lifestyle expert Liz Tucker totally agrees with the phenomenon of leisure sickness. “It is absolutely a biological process. When you are busy at work, your body just needs to get things done so it overrides everything else.”
It’s when you stop that the problems start.
She says when you relax your body goes, “Oh my God [it’s] time to repair and restore,” so you get rundown and go down with something.”
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Very informative. Thank you.. ☺