Live Meaningfully – By Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A.
I’ll be honest, most days I feel like I’m kind of killing it. I love my job, I love my family, I am aware and present with both, I take time to show up for people and allow myself to be seen by my loved ones. I pack more into a 14-hour day than I think most can and I feel pretty good about it.
Of course, I have plenty of room to grow and am acutely aware of the areas in which I can do better, but I’m ok with that too as I know I’m a work in progress and will continue to try to do my best…
And then something happens to erode that smug resilience and I begin to feel a bit burned out every now and again.
Slowly, I find myself not sleeping as well, worried more often and saying things like “I think I’m in desperate need of a vacation.”
Not great that it gets to that point, but perhaps we all have been guilty of burning the candle at both ends, right?
With that, my husband and I move mountains to get everything covered to allow for a few quick days to getaway and then Ta-Da… we find ourselves on a beach somewhere or in a new city and…. I get sick.
Yup. It’s happened since I was a kid traveling back and forth from boarding school and college. Inevitably, all it takes is for me to let my guard down long enough to technically be ‘on vacation’ and I get hammered by some terrible cold/flu/bug. It’s remarkable really, because I am extremely healthy the vast majority of the time and often pride myself on ‘fighting off’ any of the little bugs that are being passed around.
And yet, without fail, upon taking time off (without even having any exposure to anyone with a cold) I will be laid out within two days of whatever holiday I have taken.
So, I guess my mom’s theory when I was younger still stands true. Apparently, I operate at a high enough level of adrenaline that when I begin to come down from it, my immune system just takes the day off as well and doesn’t stave off any maladies in the environment?
How is this possible?
Apparently it’s a thing.
A fellow by the name of Ad Vingerhoets, who’s a psychologist in the Netherlands (of course), cites the syndrome as Leisure Sickness. Yes – that’s really the name.
And essentially, it’s the phenomenon that occurs for some people when they are overworked or overstressed (whether or not they’re aware of it) and their body experiences an imbalance in the adrenaline hormone when they are no longer “on duty.”
I can’t believe I’m actually writing an article about this.
Additionally, it feels rather embarrassing and ridiculous to acknowledge that perhaps I am not as ‘cool as a cucumber’ as I navigate the comings and goings of life as I think I am.
I mean, I’m a therapist! I meditate… (apparently not often enough). I exercise (apparently also not often enough). I am hyper aware of my thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc…
How could I unwittingly be so overstimulated that I am unable to take a vacation without getting sick?
So, here I am, outing myself yet again with the vulnerabilities that exist for all of us. Even those of us who believe they ‘have it figured out.’ With this information, I am re-upping my efforts to balance exercise, meditation, work/life balance, etc… as soon as I get rid of this cold anyway. 😉
Hoping this holiday season brings with it far more down time full of family, food, fun and friends, minus the fever.
Till the next time,
Be Well; Live Meaningfully.
Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A. practices at 2150 Park Avenue North as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and can be reached at www.livemeaningfully.net or 407-796-2959.