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.
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.
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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