Have you ever felt kind of blue after a big event that you had planned or were looking forward to?
Two weekends ago was my daughter’s wedding. There was so much planning for a whole year. There were decisions to be made at every turn. Then there was scheduling and coordinating. It was an all-consuming endeavor that is for sure!
And let me tell you, it went off without a hitch. I am so thankful that Marlea was able to have the wedding of her dreams. She and her new husband, Paul were beaming the entire wedding weekend.
And I was too!
So why is it that once it was over, I felt the blues? I should have been relishing the wonderful moments, great memories that were made, and basking in the glow of a beautiful event that everyone fully enjoyed.
Well Boss gals, I’ll tell you why! It’s called post-production let down syndrome, and let me tell you the struggle is real!
After exciting life events, especially the biggies, we can often fall into some small bouts of depression. It’s like the “high” of the event (meaning the high adrenaline, the high emotional state, the excitement and anticipation) then dramatically drops off to feeling empty and sensing a sad void. We are left kind of lost without the next exciting thing to get amped up about.
Studies have shown that there is a biological reason for the blues that hit after a big event. When we have been stressed or when we have been kind of amped up, our bodies create a lot of cortisol which is the stress hormone. So after the event there is a sudden drop in cortisol from our bloodstream and that can give us a big let down. We’ve been cranking up our adrenaline, and now abruptly it is gone! It is the same for two other chemicals in our bodies that amp up when we are happy. The dopamine and serotonin peaks during joyous events. But, post-event is when the levels drop and return to normal.
The emotional and psychological reason that we get the blues after something big happens in our lives is what is called “the contrast effect.” Most people critique their lives by comparing it as better or worse to what came before it. So for example, if the exciting event was a wedding…well—it was fun, exciting, celebratory, with heightened emotion. So how could our daily humdrum life even compare? Right?
In most cases, these blues are temporary. But even still they can wreak havoc with our minds and emotions. We can feel depressed, disappointed, and it can even have us questioning everything else in our lives. This can lead to a sudden downward spiral unless you know how to handle it well.
The thing is, it’s not really possible to sustain that kind of “high,” that elated feeling when things are intensified. At some point, we need to come back down to a renewed sense of equilibrium.
But here is the interesting part Boss Gals. This does not just happen after some big life event like a wedding. It can even happen if you’ve even working long and hard on a work deadline, pouring in extra hours and feeling the heightened stress or intensity of the project and meeting that deadline.
In my architecture practice, I work on a design for weeks, and then prepare it for a schematic design presentation. We do renderings, a color board, material samples….it’s a big deal. And there is that high from creating something you feel proud of, that gets you excited. After the presentation, I used to get kind of bummed out. I felt that post production let down all too often.
So what are some good techniques to coping with this post production let down?
I have found that typically after expending that much energy, that much time, and effort—we typically need a bit of a rest period. Maybe you’ve been working on a deadline and losing sleep. Our emotional state gets a bit convoluted and off-kilter when we lack sleep. So first before anything else, indulge in a little extra R and R. (Rest and relaxation). Indulge in a nap, or going to bed early if you can.
Secondly, indulge in a massage! When we are stressed our body holds a lot of toxins in our muscles. We are also flooded with cortisol the stress hormone. Releasing the tension in your muscles, breathing out the worry and anxiety, and re-aligning your mind and body can do wonders.
And then, find a new bit of excitement to look forward to. So for the wedding example, a friend of mine told me a great tip. She said that typically when the wedding is over, the bride can get serious post- production let-down. It’s all over and there is a feeling of emptiness. So….
Plan a post-wedding dinner party for friends. You will keep some of the celebration going, and it’s a great opportunity to use all the kitchen essentials you just received as gifts. But I will caution you not to just dive into this without first taking a breather, and getting some sleep and r and r. Without that, you will just be on a cortisol treadmill and that’s no good!
And for the boss Gals killin’ it at work, when you complete a deadline, take a breather and then figure out what your next endeavor will be. Challenge yourself and stay motivated. Because jumping into a new project or a new goal (after you’ve rested up of course) may be the best way to kick the blues to the curb my friends!