Oziophobia, because we are afraid to disconnect and do nothing

It is not a real disease, but a discomfort that can manifest itself with physical symptoms, anxiety but also panic attacks. It happens when the holidays begin and we suddenly find that we are dealing with free time. “It was the Spanish psychologist Rafael Santandreu who first invented the definition of oziophobia to define the fear of leisure – he explains Cinzia Frontoni, psychologist and psychotherapist – although this topic has always been talked about, the philosopher Pascal also mentioned it “. Today, however, the problem has become more acute,” because we try to be productive and efficient at all costs, we pay attention to quantity rather than quality – explains the psychologist. – And social networks don’t help, because we often immerse ourselves in the smartphone during the breaks, but that way the brain works anyway and we don’t switch off’.

The fear of vacation

What disorients us is precisely the sudden stop when the holidays begin: “It is a change of pace that the lockdown has been for many: there are those who took the opportunity to stay with family or invest in themselves, and those who who lived with difficulties. loss of accustomed rhythms, of regular appointments”, recalls the psychologist. And when the holidays begin, the same can happen to someone. Perhaps this is also why there are those who love holiday villages or cruises, situations where is still a pattern to follow, or focuses on holiday companions: “Especially for people who are very focused on the needs of others, following programs decided by others gives the feeling of having completed the assigned task correctly, and makes you to feel in one way or another in place”, states Frontoni. “Without forgetting that in this way the success of the holiday is delegated so as not to have too many responsibilities in this regard”.

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The scary thing above all is the lonely holiday or at least the moments when we are alone with ourselves: “There is an increasingly widespread tendency to also plan leisure time so as not to leave our comfort zone, maybe take care to take a selfie at the right time to be present on social networks”, continues the psychologist. “Instead, even if they scare us, we should accept moments of emptiness, because they put us in touch with ourselves, with our feelings”. A bit like it was in the holidays of the past when moments of boredom were inevitable. Let’s not forget that boredom activates the right hemisphere of our brain, which is the one of intuitions, suggestions, creativity”, explains Frontoni.” It’s as if, that doing nothing frees us from the toxins accumulated in months of obligations and stress. : We can say that leisure frees us from the chains of time.”

Change the pace of the day

Remember, any change in daily rhythms, such as the start of the holidays, brings with it a bit of anxiety: Will everything be okay? Do I want to have fun, do I want to have made the right choice? “The problem is when anxiety grows in an abnormal way, right at the start of the holiday, due to the loss of one’s points of reference, whether it is the bed, certain foods or the usual rhythms”, emphasizes the psychologist, “Let’s not forget , that for many the idea of ​​starting from oneself, which is what one should do in these moments, is very difficult and often makes little sense.” And here comes the anxiety, you sleep badly, in some cases the difficulty of leaving your comfort zone can trigger real panic attacks.

The ‘maniacs’ of the performance

The most vulnerable are performance freaks,” those who grew up with the rule of the majority, for whom any result is never enough – explains Frontoni. – And often also women who combine housework with official work: to give up everything and put the first in. the personal needs of the place must overcome a sense of duty which for some is part of their female identity.” Those for whom work is a real addiction are also in trouble, and those who are allergic to introspection. But being alone for a while gives us the opportunity to reflect, to ask ourselves important questions: “We often live so fast that we do not realize situations, even painful ones, that it is useful to think about”, notes the psychologist, ” and holidays can be the right option”.

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Disconnect in a ‘gradual’ manner

To get the most out of it, it can be useful to avoid too abrupt breaks: “Don’t suddenly go from hectic work to idleness and vice versa – advises Frontoni – allow yourself a few days before starting the real holiday and try to return gradually if possible to work without having a full agenda from day one”. This also applies to the very young, “especially now that many young people are busy: even on the beach we see fewer and fewer children playing with the sand, who it once did, all too often we see them on the sunbed, with their cell phones in their hands. which extinguishes creativity “, recalls the psychologist,” Even for them idleness can be an opportunity to recognize and appreciate their resources and their needs “. For everyone, the challenge is to regain the pleasure of appreciating simple things, “the birds chirping or a sunset”, concludes Frontoni, “and above all to learn not to consider lost time when we do nothing”.

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