GP Dr Suhail Hussain shed light on why our bodies shut down as soon as we switch on our “out of office” notifications in an interview with theDaily Record.
She explained: “When the body is used to functioning on high levels of [stress hormones] cortisol and adrenaline and they suddenly decrease, our immune system is exposed and then we’re prone to minor infections and excessive tiredness.
"Pain and muscle aches also increase – adrenaline increases muscle tension, so imagine a rubber band always pulled tight, what happens when you let go?”
And yet, there are ways to go on a break without having a health breakdown.
"You can try to lessen the impact of the ‘let-down effect’ by de-stressing slowly,” Dr Hussain recommended.
In other words, before you pack your suitcase and send over those dreaded handover notes, make sure you get some extra rest in – so early nights and maybe some nice yoga sessions.
The health expert added: “Instead of crashing and burning, try to maintain a bit of activity on the holiday or some degree of exercise, such that there’s not a massive decrease in stress hormone levels, meaning you can allow the body to acclimatise slowly.”
In a nutshell: don’t go from full speed to zero in one fell swoop.
It’s also worth noting that none of us should let the challenges of work impact our health and well-being and, if we do, we could pay for it later.
"Constantly running on high levels of stress is very bad for you,” Dr Hussain pointed out. “It leads to the problems mentioned above but also longer-term consequences, such as plaque formation in arteries, leading to coronary events and strokes, depression and anxiety, and even addiction.”
We know it’s easier said than done, but try to be a little kinder to yourself and take some time to relax every day, not just when you book your next trip.
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