largelet’s say you really need a break from your daily routine, so you decide to go on vacation. But, when you finally get to what is supposed to be your relaxing break, you are faced with nothing more than a stuffy nose and an overwhelming sense of guilt that you are not productive. Sounds familiar? If so, then you’ve probably not experienced anything other than what experts call a leisure disease.
“Leisure’s illness is the discomfort that results when time away from work – such as weekends and holidays – does not provide rest due to the inability to relax and unwind,” says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD, author of Joy from fear: Create the life you want by making fear your friend.
“The disease of leisure is the discomfort that occurs when time away from work does not offer rest due to the inability to relax and let go.” – Carla Marie Manly, PhD, clinical psychologist
Usually, Dr. Manly adds, this happens to people because there is “a need to be productive, something that prevents people from fully relaxing.” Leisure time illness can manifest in a variety of ways, including exhaustion — for example, inability to get out of bed during breaks — and research has shown that it can also cause flu or cold symptoms. “It can appear as something as simple as headaches or migraines, sore throats or body aches,” says licensed clinical professional Joanne Frederick, LCPC. “More serious symptoms may include nausea, anxiety, insomnia and even depression.”
But, this does not mean that you have to worry about a ruined vacation life. In fact, mental health experts say there are several effective ways to combat leisure time illness. Read below to learn four of their tips for doing this.
4 Tips to Reduce Leisure Illness, According to Mental Health Professionals
1. Use visualization to set yourself free
To imagine yourself free and able to enjoy your vacation without suffering from a recreational illness, Dr. Manly recommends imagining yourself “packing” any worries about your work in a box or case. “You may even have to imagine locking the case and throwing away the key,” says Dr. Manly. “Focus on allowing your mind to make work and life stress truly unlimited.”
2. Try to change your mindset about leave time
Because the illness of leisure often stems from a person’s need to be productive in terms of work, Dr. Manly also says it’s important to “remind yourself that you both need and deserve free time”.
Let’s say you are the type of person who feels bad that is not on the clock. In this case, remind yourself that “you will be much more productive and healthier [when you return to work] “If you allow yourself to rest and rejuvenate,” says Dr. Manly. “Relaxation and rejuvenation are some of the most productive moments of all,” he adds.
3. Stay away from your work electronics when you are not on the clock
“If you’re really looking forward to recharging and relaxing, then having your laptop with you or constantly checking your work email will work,” says psychotherapist Alison Stone, LCSW.
Her top tip to stay honest in this regard? Leave your work computer at home. Additionally, you can leave your phone in a place where you can not easily access it, so you do not have the option to check the mail, even if you wanted to.
4. Have an agenda for your breaks
If your leisure time sickness is actually due to a lack of productivity, psychologist Selena Snow, PhD, suggests taking a more structured approach to your vacation – such as planning a hike, breakfast, lunch, dinner or other outing.
“Unstructured vacation time can leave people with uncertainty about the ‘right’ things to do… and can fill them with self-doubt about whether they are using their vacation ‘well enough’. “, Says Dr. Snow. Thus, if you do something that you find productive outside of work, you are less likely to feel the effects of your free time illness.
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