3 min read


On holidays and now you’re sick? If you have cold or flu symptoms, a headache or body aches then you may be suffering from a term called Leisure sickness.  


What is Leisure sickness?


It can be defined by symptoms of feeling run down that eventually make you bed bound all because Christmas is finally here, or because you have finally taken some time off work to relax. 

The condition ‘leisure sickness’ appears when you begin to develop symptoms of sickness during weekends or holidays. It was first identified by psychologist Ad Vingerhoets and Maaike Van Huijgevoort in 2001 who conducted a study. The authors claim that leisure sickness is more prevalent in people who have an inability to transition from the-work to the non-work environment i.e leisure activities, or have a high need for achievement and a high sense of responsibility.

Ad Vingerhoets author, and Ester Sternberg a neuroendocrine immunology researcher, believe that this condition is caused by stress and hormones affecting the nervous system and immune system. 

Leisure sickness is more prevalent in men (3.6%) than in women (2.7%) with symptom onset beginning 1 - 2 days into your holidays or shortly after a major life changing event such as:

  • Marriage.
  • The birth of a child.
  • Beginning a new job.
  • Finishing school or university exams. 


What are the symptoms of leisure sickness?


  • Sore throat. 
  • Headaches or migraines. 
  • Body aches or pains. 
  • Cold and flu symptoms: runny or congested nose, cough with phlegm, sore throat. 
  • Acute fatigue. 
  • Nausea or vomiting. 
  • Depression or lethargy. 
  • Irritability or anxiety



So, why do people get sick as soon as they take some time off work? 

It has been observed through studies that the mind and the body are very closely connected. 

During times of stress either physiological or psychological, the adrenal glands release adrenaline. This hormone can boost energy levels, focus and immune function for short periods of time. 

Although, when adrenalin is being released, the body also releases cortisol which is an anti-inflammatory hormone that can suppress the immune system by sending signals that inhibit normal immune function.

Once physiological or psychological stress reduces, or you take time off work, the associated adrenalin also reduces, leaving a tempory spike in cortisol levels that can weaken the immune system. It is this weekend state that leaves people more susceptible to contracting illnesses or cold and flu’s. 


How to prevent leisure sickness

  • Take a moment to stop and breath in times of stress - this will allow you to stop and listen to your body and any signs it may be telling you, especially if you’re overworked. 
  • Regular exercise and exercise the day before taking any days off - especially if you are prone to weekend sickness or headaches. This will allow the transition from work to holidays much easier. 
  • Eat wholesome and nutritious foods - daily. 
  • Wake up the same time every morning - this will help regulate your body clock and internal organ function. 
  • Incorporate relaxation techniques into your lifestyle i.e gentle beach or bush walks, regular baths, meditation, yoga, pilates or cycling. 


How can Acupuncture help combat leisure sickness

Acupuncture is a preventative medicine, and when used correctly treatmentscan be a very effective way to reduce and prevent illnesses. Acupuncture is also a great way to incorporate a time for regular relaxation into your life.

Treatments can help reset your nervous system via stress reduction or assist in the following ways:

  • Support and boost immune function.
  • Reduce the severity and frequency cold and flu symptoms i.e coughs, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches and pains. 
  • Regulate sleep-wake cycles and assist with sleep disruptions or insomnia.
  • Reduce the severity and frequency of headaches or migraines. 
  • Reduce stress and enhance relaxation. 

If you can relate to this information, or if you fell prone to leisure sickness recently we hope it has allowed you to make some realisations. It is, almost certain that you have been over working your self. Please take some time out, and please take some time to consider all the ways to help prevent leisure sickness.

Keep on top of your health and wellbeing by incorporating some changes in your life. Your mind and body will love you for it. 

If you would like to prevent the onset of leisure sickness this weekend, or before your next holiday - contact our team at Vyne Health for support. We will help explain the best time to incorporate acupuncture treatments into your life based on your work schedule and your lifestyle habits.