As a health practitioner, I have lost count of the number of times that patient’s have shared about getting sick anytime that they slow down or go on vacation. While it was obvious to me that these people were in urgent need of some rest and relaxation, they were also hesitant about going on holidays for fear of getting sick. But my own personal experience 15 years ago convinced me that this is a sign that you are getting healthier…

I use to always end up coming home from holidays more exhausted than when I left. I used to get frustrated that my wife would just laze around doing nothing at our holiday destination. “We can just lay around when we are at home, so why do that on holidays?” I said as I tried to cram every day of my holidays with various activities.

But one Easter my wife, Angela took me to her family’s beach shack in a sleepy seaside village situated a couple of hours drive away.

The first few days I nearly went out of my mind with boredom and I was at a loss to understand why this tiny country hideaway held such a special place in my wife’s heart.

On the fourth day I finally succumbed to the pedestrian pace of this quiet coastal nook. I went for aimless, long walks along its pebbly shores looking at nothing in particular. During the afternoon I began to feel tired so, defying my feelings of guilt that I should be productive in some way, I indulged myself in a 2-hour afternoon nap. I have to admit; I didn’t feel very refreshed upon waking so an early night to bed soon ensued.

The following day, I woke to a continued feeling of fatigue despite a 10-hour sleep. As the day went on, bouts of sneezing became more frequent as my sinuses became more congested. “Great. I’m coming down with a cold!”

For me, the next two days were a misery as I just slept and sat around doing nothing. I thought that my body must be allergic to being inactive or unproductive. It wasn’t until we began our drive home that any semblance of energy starting to return to body.

But upon my return to work after the Easter holidays, so many patients and staff commented, “Boy, you look like you’ve had a great holiday.”

“Why do you say that,” I asked.

“You just seem to have so much more spark about you,” was the common reply.

And when I started to think about it, they were right. After feeling so miserable on holidays I certainly had a greater spring to my step.

I realised that often when people break unhealthy addictions they could have an initial detoxification period when they feel awful. So I began to ask myself if my being ill during my holidays was my detoxification as I went cold turkey with my addiction of continually being busy. Stress, whilst unpleasant, can also be very addictive.

When you are stressed your body releases adrenalin that helps to divert blood away from our organs to our muscles so we can escape from any signs of physical danger. In addition, pain-relieving chemicals are also released. This is done so we can still run like an Olympic sprinter to escape danger even if we are injured. As a result, being stressed can make us feel better even if we aren’t.

Stressed out workers can become addicted to these powerful chemicals that give us greater strength and less pain but there’s a downside…

Your bodies stress response of continually diverting the blood away from the organs can lower the organs function and lower your immunity. Some of us become so chronically stressed that your immune system is so weak that it is too tired to react when it should.

Consider colds and flus like an opportunity to have a big clean up of your body.

If you don’t have the energy to clean up your house regularly, what happens?

It will end up becoming a rundown mess that no one can properly live in.

So if you are chronically stressed and on the go and begin to get a cold or flu when you finally slow down, don’t complain. Be grateful. It’s a sign that your body is beginning to have enough energy to clean up the rubbish within your system. It is not a sign that you should stop taking vacations. It is a sure fire indicator that you have run yourself into the ground.

To enjoy future vacations without colds or flus, the solution is easy and enjoyable….take more regular vacations!