Us teachers get a bad rap for many things, the most prevalent being the number of holidays we enjoy. Yes, they are ample but, and having had many other jobs outside of education, I feel educated enough to say this, it is a highly stressful job that is relentless, all encompassing and can, and will, break you if you are not careful…

The one issue which is never spoken about however is that of ‘leisure illness’ which, although sounding like a ‘woke’ concoction, is a ‘thing’.

Whenever the death knell of a term comes, as we sit in the staff room listening to leaving speeches that always go into added time and then some, we look forward to the moment when we can jump in the car, put the shades on, and crank the Stones to 11 on the trusty Fiesta stereo system. Arriving home is always a huge anticlimax as, still burdened with the stresses of the job, you sit and think ‘now what?’

The ‘now what’ then takes on a life of its own. 90 per cent of the time, within a couple of days, you get rather ill. Now, as I sit and write this, I am nearing the end of the October half term holiday where, with nine days off, I have been ill for seven of them. Thankfully I managed to see the rarest of beasts, a doctor, face to face and he concurred ‘Yes, I see many teachers in here over the holidays. They seem to hold off illness during term time as they cannot afford to get ill, and then, when they start to unwind a little, it hits them. It really is a thing, although I am unsure if there has been a study on it.’

Armed with his re-iteration of my initial feelings, I consulted Professor Google and was not surprised to learn of ‘leisure sickness’. Ad Vingerhoets, professor of clinical health psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands found it is linked to ‘stress’ and the difficulty transitioning from work situations to downtime, which then affect the nervous and immune systems.

The symptoms, which I am nodding in agreement with are deemed to be headaches, fatigue, flu, and aching muscles brought on by a heavy workload and/or a demanding or perfectionist personality type. As the adrenaline stops pumping, there is a temporary surplus of cortisol which weakens immunity.

But then my research gets a little murky as I read a debate as to whether the ‘illness’ is psychological or physical, with eminent clinicians in disagreement. From a personal perspective, as I stood with my top up and breathed in as the doctor got his stethoscope caught in my matted back hair but a few days ago, before stating I had a lower chest infection, I would argue that it is physical. So then I looked at how, if it is possible, to cease being ‘a serial victim’ of this cruel manfluesque illness, that rips my beloved holidays from my grasp and leaves me moping around the house trying to find something of note to watch on Netflix that is anywhere near as good as the glossy trailer….

A separate study showed that 85 per cent of those ‘cured’ of this affliction, when asked, put their success down to one of three things: A change of job, a change in attitude toward work, or an attitude change toward life.

All well and good when you haven’t got a mortgage to pay and bills seemingly quadrupling every other day as many employers take their pound of flesh at every turn.

And so, with little wriggle room in my current circumstance, I may well start up a campaign which will be doomed from the start and likely open me up to an onset of online abuse laced with vitriol: I propose we double the length of teachers' holidays so we can enjoy some time, illness free, to get back to being ourselves, as we beat the scourge of manflu and make teaching an ever more attractive proposition for those in career limbo...