Ever notice how whenever you've finally got a moment off to enjoy a work-free weekend or stress-relieving getaway, you start feeling run down or under the weather? It's not just in your head. Leisure sickness, during the holidays in particular, is actually a legitimate affliction and it tends to strike when you're traveling or slowing down from a hectic work week.
If you've noticed symptoms like headache, itchy throat, body aches, or fatigue, you might just be suffering from leisure sickness, and you can likely thank your busy schedule for that. As Laurie Lloyd, holistic health coach, nutritional consultant, and wellness influencer behind LivLight, says, "I believe leisure sickness can be caused by a combination of psychological and physical factors." The main culprits? Stress and travel conditions.
"Whether you are heading off on a major vacation, having a staycation, or simply enjoying the weekend, often stressful times come right before," Lloyd explains. As a result, the immune system can suffer. "Between this heightened stress and the germs that come with travel during cold season, it is not surprising that people often get sick a few days into their vacation," she points out.
Another thing to note: Your leisure sickness doesn't just come out of thin air. Very likely you're powering through a daily routine of work and other obligations, so you may have been distracted from noticing the symptoms coming on. As Lloyd says, "You may also just be paying more attention to your body than you would during the normal workweek when you’re busy and preoccupied."
And though, once it hits, there's no substitute for time-off to rest, there are a few wellness practices you can incorporate to help stave off leisure sickness in the first place. Ahead, learn the five things Lloyd recommends to keep your off-duty holiday illness-free.
You've heard this before, but keeping stress at bay truly is your best tool against coming down with leisure sickness or many other afflictions. "I know, easier said than done, especially around the holidays, but there are some ways it can be done," Lloyd says. Among the ways she tries to stay stress-free during the holiday season are getting a head start ordering gifts online, creating packing lists ahead of traveling, and meditating regularly with apps like Calm. Slowing down, if only for just a few minutes can be more helpful than you realize. "Even just a few deep breaths and thinking about what you’re grateful for when you first wake up can make a huge difference," she adds.
Carve Out Time For Self-Care
"Self-care can be anything from beauty and body treatments ... to spending time with family," explains Lloyd. For a simple DIY approach, try drawing a luxurious bath for yourself. You can also follow her lead and take your pampering a step further. "I always feel so much better if I can get a quick blowout — and companies like GlamSquad and Priv have made this very accessible," she suggests.
Most people are already in need of more hydration, but if you're sipping coffee or cocktails on a regular basis, you need even more. "Lots of us tend to drink more alcohol during the holiday season, which also leads to dehydration," Lloyd shares. Exactly how much should you be consuming daily? The wellness guru recommends three liters to keep your energy up and immune system working optimally.
Consistent Eating And Sleeping
"It is so easy to get off track when we’re extra busy, have holiday parties, increased stress, etc," Lloyd mentions. And while she's not against a little holiday indulgence, it's important to exercise moderation. "If you know you are going to over-indulge in the evening, try to have a really healthy day of eating," she suggests, "My go-to is a huge smoothie for breakfast (this is my favorite) and a large chopped salad with tons of non-starchy vegetables and lean protein for lunch." As for sleep, you should be aiming for between six and nine hours nightly — depending on what works best with your body and schedule.
Move Every Single Day
With busy schedules, fitting in exercise can feel like a chore, but even a quick 10-minute daily session can help stave off leisure sickness. "Take a walk outside, do some yoga, stretch," Lloyd encourages. "Whatever it is, just move. It is one of the best things you can do for your health, mind, body and soul." If you can't make it to a class or manage to get out of the house, take advantage of a streaming option, including one of her go-tos, Melissa Wood Health.