After a tough week at work, the only thing we long impatiently for is a weekend; a time to unwind, and relax. Needless to say, vacation or even a day off welcomes relief from the load and pressure of everyday life at work. However, for some people, such opportunities of leisure may spell trouble; enough to make them sick. I am talking about a condition, which is purported to be psychological in nature, known as leisure sickness syndrome. Although, the condition has not been given recognition by psychologists, reportedly, there have been many cases which may vouch for its existence.
Factors Responsible for Inducing Leisure Sickness Syndrome In People
It was Dutch psychologists Ad Vingerhoets and Maaike van Huijgevoort who came up with the possible existence of this condition. As the name suggests, this syndrome is characterized by a person falling ill or feeling so only or mostly when he/she is on a vacation or a weekend than when working. Having said that, it can be understood that workaholics may be the group of people who may exhibit the typical trait of this syndrome we are discussing here. According to some people, this condition somehow mimics the condition called Paradise Syndrome. While not officially attributed to be a real psychological condition, here the affected person bears a sense of dissatisfaction despite having accomplished all that he/she desired in life. Apparently, Ad Vingerhoets conducted a survey on about 2000 men and women who carried large workloads and felt very responsible for their work. He found that 3.2% of these people reported to have been suffering from this illness, when they had little to do.
People who were reported to be suffering from this syndrome, exhibited symptoms such as feeling nauseous, experiencing headache, fatigue, migraines, muscular aches and pain, and even common infections such as cold and flu. Research indicates that this condition can have two manifestations. In one type, these symptoms immediately appear when the person shifts from a working environment to a leisure one which could be on a weekend, or may be before a vacation. In another type, this syndrome onsets in people who after giving up a busy life, decide to adopt a slow and quiet one.
What may happen is, when a person is overloaded with work, his/her body adapts itself to the stress. But the moment, the same person tries to make a transition to a relaxed setting such as a weekend, the body thinks that it is a let-down response thus, triggering stress and the symptoms mentioned above.
It has been reported that about 3% of both men and women seem to be affected by the syndrome. And this 3% consist of people bearing characteristics such as perfectionism, eagerness to always stay ahead in the race, over-developed sense of responsibility; in short, driven personalities. It may be said that, the immune system of such people works better when they are coping with stress in their work environment.
What Could be Done?
Leisure sickness syndrome is a newly coined term in medical science, and since its reputation is not recognized as medically relevant, any specific treatment is out of expectation. But one logical solution, or let's say treatment for this condition is returning to the job a person enjoys or getting himself/herself more involved. And nothing beats the benefits of exercise. If someone feels that he/she is not at ease or getting ill when on a vacation, then what best can be done is to indulge in exercise. This would not only keep the person engaged but also help in reducing negative stress.
In conclusion, there is a subtle difference between being a workaholic and a perfectionist. So if you make a conscious effort in determining which one of these two you are, then it might also provide a great deal of help in managing problems such as the leisure sickness syndrome.