Little Britain, ON – We finally have a day off. One that we have been looking forward to. Only to be struck down with some kind of bug which makes us feel rotten. For some, taking a vacation doesn’t lead to sleeping in, relaxation or family fun. It may mean headaches, migraines, fatigue, muscular pains, nausea and viral infections that caused flu-like symptoms and colds. These symptoms can be a sign of leisure illness and they are often linked to stress caused by work overload and pushing ourselves too hard before taking time off.
This illness was often considered to be psychosomatic, because most people in the midst of it were not suffering from any viral or bacterial infection and it tended to be experienced by people who were overworked, expressed a lot of stress around working, or who rarely took time off from work. However, it may be that these people pushed themselves to the point where they compromised their body systems and when they finally took time off, their bodies ‘gave in’ and responded with aches, pains and illness reactions.
“Our bodies respond to the stressors that we face. Sometime these reactions are not immediate as in the case of being in a car accident and our heart racing. Sometimes these reactions build over time and eventually they can wear us down. Sometimes it is not until we stop the ‘rollercoaster ride’ that our body responds and we experience these flu or cold like symptoms,” says Beverly Beuermann-King, a Canadian work-life balance expert.
A recent Expedia.ca survey found that 40% of Canadians are not taking all of their vacation time and the number one reason cited was that they were too busy to get away. Taking time off from our usual routine is important in ensuring good overall health.
“Vacation time helps reduce stress and holds a range of benefits for both our physical and mental well-being,” Beuermann-King says. “A break from the grind can help lower your blood pressure, reduce anxiety and let you get the proper rest that’s so important to our overall health. Plus, according to the Expedia.ca survey, holidays make us happy – which obviously benefits our mental well-being. However, if you are not taking good care of yourself on a day-to-day basis by eating health, getting enough sleep and exercise or you are involved in many negative coping activities, you may find that your body will ‘act out’ the first chance it gets and that may be during your vacation.”
August 15th is Relaxation Day. It is a day to promote healthy lifestyles that include learning how to relax. “We have become a society of workaholics and people who placed little value on taking care of ourselves. We are seeing a change to this model as more and more people are looking to find balance and improve their health. Being able to relax, whether at home on the weekend, a day off here or there or while on vacation is a true skill. We need to learn to be comfortable in the moment and not planning out our to-do list. For some, relaxation is uncomfortable and promotes anxiety. They are so use to being on the rollercoaster of life that even a few moments of down-time causes stress.”
Celebrate Relaxation Day. If you can, take the day off and focus only on those activities that nourish your mind and body. If you can’t take the day off, make it a priority to build in some relaxation time after work or on the weekend. It may be reading a good book, going for a massage, or sitting on a patio enjoying the summer. All work and no play, may just make Jack or Jill one very sick person.
Beverly’s Hot Tips for Celebrating National Relaxation Day:
- Vacations are important to our health and well-being, so don’t wait for the ‘right’ time. Make plans to use all of your vacation allotment, whether it be a day off, an extended weekend or a longer vacation period.
- Do not over-program your days off. Look for activities that are relaxing and rejuvenating.
- Promote relaxation. Try deep breathing, visualization, yoga or a massage. Massage can increase circulation by manually applying pressure and movement, it stimulates nerve receptors causing the blood vessels to dilate, it increase oxygen capacity, loosens muscles, and increases body’s secretions. All of this is great for promoting the body’s relaxation response.
- Get involved in a hobby. Try gardening, fishing, boating, or reading a book. Reading something uplifting activates the same positive emotion center as experiencing a happy moment first hand. University of St. Louis
- Play. Play is important for all aspects of our lives, including creativity and relationships. When we play, we trigger a mix of endorphins that lift our spirits and the relationships that we form during play remind us that we are not alone in this world. Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax us.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!
National Relaxation Day Infographic
Relaxation Day Article
Relaxation Day Article
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