Do you ever find your body crashing the moment you take your much needed break? I turned to Google and searched for the answer to my mysterious illness which I seem to only suffer from when I take some time off. I didn’t know that there’s actually a term for it and it’s called ‘Leisure Sickness’ and it’s real. I didn’t take much notice of my symptoms until recently because it didn’t really affect me in the past as much as it does now. I always kept busy even on my days off so that’s most likely why I ignored the signs. For the past few months, I felt like my energy was depleted and I was always hit with extreme exhaustion the moment I stop and take a break. As soon as I sit on the sofa and watch an hour long documentary, I found myself wanting to nap and after a 20 minute nap, I always woke up feeling weak and suffering from headaches or nausea.
It’s more than feeling lethargic. It’s as if my body goes through this ‘I’m tired and I’m not capable of doing anything because I can’t’ phase every time I stop working and it’s a feeling I don’t look forward to having. It’s like my body wants to suddenly literally ‘turn off’ on my days off which makes me feel like I want to keep working which makes me feel even more tired and so the cycle of exhaustion continues…
I’m a little worried because I’m preaching this thing about the importance of ‘Taking A Break’ and yet I’m afraid of taking a break myself.
I’m not sure if it’s a psychological thing on top of the physical aspects that can affect an individual’s state when they take their rest days or holidays. I’m thinking maybe because I know that it’s time to rest that my body follows and thinks ‘Time to give up!’. I will definitely be looking into this and research a bit more and write about it someday; but first, I want to share with you the things that help me combat feeling tired and unwell when I’m on a break.
I EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
I start the day with drinking hot water with lemon and a little bit of salt to kick start my digestive system and metabolism. It’s a great way to warm up too. We all know how tough it is not to reach for coffee first thing in the morning especially during the winter months. Lemon and hot water is a great alternative to tea and coffee. I feel like it’s also a great way to re hydrate our bodies after a long night’s sleep. Coffee is great too if you want to boost yourself up that way. I love coffee too and there’s nothing better than a fresh cup of black coffee (no sugar) in the morning. Remember though that coffee tends to be dehydrating so, make sure you also drink plenty of water in the morning and throughout the day especially when exercising.
I eat a healthy breakfast consisting of healthy cereals and oats mixed with grains, seeds and dried or fresh fruit. My favourite fruits to mix with my cereals are apricots, bananas, apples, strawberries and blueberries. I have these with almond milk then I add honey if I want more sweetness. Often, I don’t mind just eating the cereals as they are with almond milk. I have honey with my ginger and lemon tea instead.
Breakfast is really important to have because it provides our body with the fuel it needs to carry out any activity. It also helps to wake us up and I don’t know about you but I’m always hungry as soon as I wake up! Be sure to get a healthy breakfast if you can. Of course you can always treat yourself too and have some pancakes or fried breakfast but I tend to do only do this during the weekends as a treat (a very special treat). Eating unhealthy foods like fried foods is never good before you start doing any form of exercise.
Yoga is by far my favourite form of exercise because it incorporates a little bit of meditation which helps me switch off and be in the present moment. I also love that it allows me to stretch the muscles we often forget about like the neck and shoulders (A huge chunk of my work involves me sitting in front of the computer which makes my neck so stiff sometimes). I get up at 5.30 AM to make it to the gym for 6.00 AM. Hitting the gym early gives my body the boost it needs after sleeping. It instantly wakes my body and mind and just being around other people who are committed to the same activities is really motivating. I love how I see the same people in the gym in the morning. It’s an instant boost. I think to myself, ‘If they can work hard this early in the morning, then I can work hard too!’.
I find that when I exercise, I feel much better throughout the day. I don’t feel too lethargic and I don’t feel ill (even when my muscles hurt from the weight lifting). I still carry on if I can (without over exerting myself). When I think about how ill I feel if I don’t exercise, that’s enough motivation for me to go and hit the gym.
Exercise also helps to improve my mood throughout the day. I have noticed that as long as I’ve had enough sleep throughout the night (7-8 hours) and then hit the gym for an hour, I become more alert and focused all day. I also feel so energised even after exercising which didn’t make sense to me at first because I thought that I would be more tired. The complete opposite happened because I feel more alive after my workouts.
I GET READY
After exercising, I shower and go through my daily beauty routine. Even though I only plan on staying at home, I still put on a little bit of makeup (although I take breaks and have many no-makeup days too). I may not put on a full face of heavy makeup but I still moisturise and create a no makeup look and spray my favourite perfume. The very act of getting ready prepares my mind and body to be ready for anything. I sometimes spot conceal some areas of my face using a radiant concealer which isn’t too heavy in coverage. Then I just put on some face powder and a light lip cream.
I try and avoid putting on my lounge wear even when I’m staying at home but there are times when I may need to dress down to relax. Usually, I’ll put on my casual clothes to get ready for ‘errands’ day.
I PLAY SOME MUSIC
Music… music can really make a difference. Music can affect your mood so much. I listen to upbeat music in the morning; starting from the moment I exercise to when I’m getting ready and carrying out some tasks. When I’m at home, I put on the TV to listen to music or TV programmes. I’ve learned to avoid sitting in front of the TV for too long though. I listen to TV and music while I’m active and doing something. Music speaks to something so deep inside us. I feel uplifted and active when I listen to my favourite tracks. I like to listen to loud music too but of course, be mindful of your neighbours. You don’t want to wake anyone up first thing in the morning. Use your headphones if you need to. I like dancing to my favourite tracks as I do some of my chores and most of all, I love singing along to them too.
I AVOID STAYING IDLE
When I’m idle and just sitting on the sofa not doing anything, that’s when I first start to notice the leisure sickness creep in so I make sure I’m always doing something (even small activities). I don’t have to be working on my holiday or days off…what I mean is that I make sure I’m not inactive for long periods of time.
As an example, I try to cook my dinner and avoid takeaways if I can. If I was to eat dinner while watching TV, I won’t just leave the plate lying next to me after eating. I get up and wash up or I prepare myself a nice hot drink after. I go out to the grocery store and run a few errands. I stimulate my mind by writing or planning a few things for the next few weeks ahead. I organise my closet, clean the house or even maybe meet or call a friend for a chat or something if they’re free.
The only time I stay idle is when I’m meditating and clearing my mind out of the constant noise. Meditation is the only thing that doesn’t make me feel lethargic and it really is so good for the mind and soul.
I HAVE A PURPOSE IN MIND
I allow myself to just have a purpose in mind of what I would like to achieve every single day. It could be that I want to at least finish reading 3 chapters of a book or paint my nails. It could be that I need to get a few household chores done or that I need to finish organising a few things. If I’m on holiday, it could be that I aim to explore for a few hours or try something new that day.
All these serve as motivational things we could give ourselves so that while relaxing, we’re also aiming to get something done; no matter how small. Achieving something boosts our mood and these all link to what I’ve said above. If you have a purpose in mind, everything else falls into place and it helps avoid the feeling of disinterest and inactivity.
These are some of the things that help me avoid feeling ‘off’ on holidays and rest days… I hope these techniques work for you too and I hope you feel more refreshed on your rest days because we all know we deserve great breaks.