You’re not alone if you find yourself getting sick whenever you take time off work. It’s good to take time off for your health and wellbeing, but nothing is worse than being ill when you are supposed to be relaxing.

You’ve just finished work, and now it’s time for your holiday. The suitcase is packed and ready for departure, but you suddenly feel terribly ill. The cold and flu symptoms have set in, as well as joint pain and fatigue. It happens to all of us. And there’s nothing worse! Nobody likes spending their well-deserved vacations stuck in bed.

So, why do you get sick when you finally have some time off? There are a number of factors that can lead you to become ill once you stop working. Stress hormones are a major contributing factor.


The Impact Of Stress Hormones On Your Health

When you’re stressed, adrenalin fuels your immune system and keeps you going for as long as you need. However, when you suddenly stop and start to relax, your hormones are thrown out of balance. The result is that your immune system is compromised and you are more susceptible to illness.

Being overly tired can also cause you to become ill. An overworked immune system cannot handle every bug. When you’re tired and suddenly give your body a rest, you can get nauseated and have headaches.

Many people find that the rush to meet pre-holiday deadlines can be a stressful time, putting a strain on their immune systems and making it difficult to transition between work and leisure. As a result, you are more likely to contract an infection while you’re away.

Under stress, the body produces hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which act in different ways. Cortisol suppresses the immune system, while adrenaline boosts it. As work pressures ease and you feel more relaxed, your body produces less adrenaline and your cortisol levels increase, weakening your immune system. This, in turn, can leave you vulnerable to infection. Likewise, after a stressful period, you might experience the ‘let-down effect’, leading to mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. The symptoms of these disorders can – as you might guess – weaken your immune system and put you at risk for illness.

Whenever we become ill, it’s important to give ourselves the time and space to rest properly. Being so busy that you’re almost always on the verge of snapping in half is considered something of an accomplishment in our modern society; as a result, it is far too easy to ignore our physical and emotional wellbeing. These issues can lead to longer recovery times, which is never ideal.

Pre-vacation stress won’t improve your health and wellbeing

In the weeks prior to your time off, you tend to be even more stressed than usual. In addition to trying to complete all your work, you also have to plan for your time off. Many of us experience pre-vacation stress.

You spend your little free time shopping for last-minute holiday essentials, booking attraction tickets, and packing. With your days crammed with work, and your evenings filled with tasks, your body is constantly running on adrenaline.

You will find that when you finally come to a halt and begin to relax, your hormones are extremely unbalanced, and your body is trying to adjust to the sudden change.

Travel affects your immune system

It is extremely unpleasant to suffer from travel sickness. Taking a trip can be a stressful and tiring experience. Getting sick while traveling is the absolute last thing anyone needs. Known as motion sickness, travel sickness occurs when the body is trying to understand motion, but the senses are at odds.

A turbulent flight or bumpy coach experience can cause your eyes to see one thing, your muscles to feel another and your ears to hear something else. Due to this conflict of senses, people experience nausea, dizziness, and sometimes vomiting.

It is relatively common to experience motion sickness while traveling and can almost always be prevented with motion sickness tablets. Ginger is also a wonderful remedy for motion sickness. Perhaps sip on ginger tea while traveling.

Tips On Taking Care Of Your Health And Preventing Illness

You don’t want to get sick when you have a few days off or a holiday to look forward to. Putting your health and wellbeing first will reduce your risk of getting sick. We have some tips for preventing yourself from getting sick when you’re off work:

Prepare for annual leave properly to reduce stress

It doesn’t have to be stressful and hectic to prepare for annual leave. Organising yourself and giving yourself enough time to get everything sorted is key. That way, you won’t have to worry at the last minute. Making the right preparations will help you enjoy a stress-free (and hopefully sick-free) vacation.

Before you take time off, wind down

Do not let your body become stressed at a time when it is at its most vulnerable. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, exercise gently, and don’t overindulge in alcohol.

It’s all about planning

Preparing in advance will make the whole process easier and will keep you from getting stressed. Give yourself ample time to tie up loose ends at work by delegating work projects early.

Instead of leaving everything to the final few days before your time off, plan your vacation weeks in advance. When going on vacation, make sure all the arrangements, including insurance and airport parking, are made in advance. Make sure you pick up your holiday essentials a couple weeks before you travel and get ahead of packing.

When you plan ahead, you’ll be able to get things done and still have time to relax before your vacation.

Take Care of Your Body

This one is easy. It’s important to take care of your body every day, but even more so when you’re planning to take time off from work.

Stay away from anyone who is ill, especially in confined spaces like the workplace. Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitiser. Clean your desk at least once a week with an anti-bacterial wipe.

Prepare healthy lunches for work and drink plenty of water. The convenience of buying something from the store is all too tempting, but it is not always healthy.

Taking multivitamins and minerals in the weeks leading up to your vacation is also a great idea.

Reach out

Staying healthy and enjoying your time off work can be achieved by taking care of your health and wellbeing.

Simply contact your local pharmacy if you would like more information about how you can relieve stress, take care of your health or prepare for an upcoming vacation, and they will be able to help you.