Going on vacation soon? Why you might get sick

Going on vacation soon? Why you might get sick
Going on vacation soon? Why you might get sick

DECRYPTION – While the need for a vacation has never seemed so pressing, many French people are being extra cautious as their holidays approach.

In a crowd of uncovered faces, hers stands out. Three years after the end of the last lockdown, Nathalie, 50, continues to wear a mask in the street and on Parisian public transport. For her, the resurgence of Covid, with an increase in demand for tests in pharmacies, confirms her intuition: that of protecting herself before going on vacation this summer. “My husband and I have planned two weeks on the French Riviera end of July-beginning of August. I want to be able to enjoy it”she confides in us. The bad memory of a Covid during the Christmas holidays last year seems to have vaccinated her. “I stayed in bed for two weeks, unable to get up or breathe properly. I had lost my sense of taste and smell.”she remembers, still moved.

As the departure approaches, she has therefore made an unusual decision: to put the mask back on. “The box had been stored in our bathroom drawer for several months. So I took it out again.”she continues. Precautionary principle or the beginning of hypochondria? At the start of the summer holidays, everyone is taking precautions to prevent a little cold or a bad sore throat from spoiling the party. All the more so this year, when the summer holidays seem to take on a particular flavor, with a heavy geopolitical context and an unstable political climate, notably marked by the legislative elections. “The more anxiety-provoking the environment, the more trips are thought of differently and developed according to different scenarios,” Jean-Didier Urbain, anthropologist, sociologist specializing in tourism, and author of Forbidden Planet (Editions de l’Aube, 2023). Here, “We note an existential urgency to make our vacations a success.”

Preventive treatments for “not to get sick”

A need that pushes some vacationers to take every precaution, like Benjamin, 33. The young man has bad memories of a stay in Norway, spoiled by a bad sore throat, last January. “I got sick on my way to Christmas mass. A few days later I left with an ear infection and a burning throat for Oslo, where it was -30°C [une vague de froid avait alors touché le nord de l’Europe, ndlr]. It was quite difficult because I spent six days feeling unwell, going to the pharmacy regularly.”he says. Since then, he has taken responsibility for making “preventive treatments to avoid getting sick“His miracle cure: L52, a homeopathic medicine traditionally used in the treatment of flu-like symptoms.

“It works well !”assures the young man, who also takes propolis, which strengthens the immune system and can relieve minor seasonal infections. He hopes that this medication will take effect when he goes on holiday to Brittany in a few weeks. For other holidaymakers, despite all the caution in the world, the sentence seems inevitable. This is what Isabelle, a 52-year-old consultant, remembers. “Before, from my first day of vacation, I would systematically fall ill”she recalls. “I had cold sores and I could get a sore in my back. Sometimes it would last the whole vacation.” Behind Isabelle’s case lies a still little-known illness that is nevertheless common among employees in stressful situations: leisure sickness.

A body that lets go

Flu, extreme fatigue, migraines, muscle pain, nausea… the ailments seem innumerable. But why do we get sick, especially before going on vacation? The workload, increased before the holidays, is often the cause. Between the last projects to complete and the files to transmit, our stress and adrenaline reach peaks, and make us more resistant to external aggressions and infections. But when the holidays start, everything gives up, including our immune system. “The body cracks even though it has lasted all year“, summarizes Johanna Rozenblum, clinical psychologist interviewed by Welcome to the jungle, a site specializing in job searches. “We are simply weakened during the first days of decompression. The adrenaline no longer works and our body exults.“Far from being a psychological pathology, this strange illness often reflects overwork and can be cured by questioning one’s relationship to work.

“It lasted for 15 years. I needed at least two weeks of vacation: the first one, I was sick, then the second one, I could start enjoying myself.”says Isabelle. The beginning of healing? “I put work at a distance and since then, things have been better.” Work alone cannot sum up all this accumulated stress. For Nolwenn, 32, her hypochondria guides her in her preparation for the holidays. “I’m always afraid of getting sick. So when I pack my suitcase, I take the necessary medication: Nurofen, Spasfon, painkillers, anti-inflammatories… I don’t forget my European health insurance card.” All these little rituals calm the young woman’s anxiety, who will nevertheless adopt avoidance strategies throughout the journey to her place of stay. “On the plane, I always sit on the aisle and avoid the air conditioning at all costs.” A liturgy that she will repeat religiously when she leaves for Andorra in 15 days.

TO LISTEN – Why do some people systematically get sick on vacation?




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