How Not to Feel Depressed After Big Events

Most people have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and postpartum depression. But have you ever heard of post-event blues? You know, that feeling of feeling empty, discontent, or low after a holiday or big event (e.g., wedding, prom, family reunion, vacation, etc.). Maybe you’ve even experienced it. It’s not as uncommon as one might think.

Readers who have been following me this month probably have deduced why this is the topic for today’s bonus post. In celebration of the release of my upcoming sports romance novel, Ice Gladiators, on 02/15/20, I have been writing a series of bonus posts about topics that have anything in common with the book or characters. Ice Gladiators focuses on a minor league hockey player who is trying to find success but bumps into relationship complications along the way. Readers see the main character both on and off the ice and get a glimpse into the pre-game build-up and hype as well as the post-adrenaline letdown.

In a way, this feeling like an emotional sugar-crash. One spends weeks preparing and building (gobbling candy) to a high peak (crescendo) to busying themselves in the anticipated moment (body absorbing the sugar) only to seemingly have the time fly by, which leads to the bottoming out (crash). Instead of the body being depleted, an adrenaline crash leaves one emotionally drained and potentially feeling hollow. Many athletes go through this, especially after championship or playoff games. They spend months mentally and physically preparing themselves, having it be their primary or sole focus, and then boom! It’s over.

Once these feelings of letdown and blues set in, they can take root and suck the joy out of events that occur after. So, how does one combat these feelings of post-event depression and/or feeling letdown after events? Here are some simple guidelines one can follow to cope with an emotional hangover.

  1. Acknowledge that what you are feeling is real and genuine. Know that you are not alone and that your post-event blues are not feelings of ungratefulness or selfishness. Many times, people who experience post-event depression misinterpret their emotions and refused to talk about their feelings because they feel ashamed. They may fear that they will not receive support from family or friends or dismiss their feelings as being trivial or ingenious.
  2. Take a moment to reflect on the positive highlights of the events. Part of the letdown may be stemming from being so involved in the event in the moment that one did not actually enjoy it. Afterward, the memories are all a blur. It may help to pause, recount your feelings, and appreciate your feelings. One could even take it a step further by documenting those feelings in a journal, diary, blog, or video diary. Another option would be to create a scrapbook or a powerpoint file with pictures, images, or messages of the event. As you work on these, really tap into how you were feeling at the time of the event. According to some experts, engaging in these types of reflective activities will create positive feelings and help lift the blues by releasing and increasing oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine levels in the brain. These hormones are considered feel-good or pleasure hormones.
  3. Get some emotional rest by physically resting. This may sound confusing, but it’s not. When I was in high school and used to participate in sports (e.g., cheerleading and track), I, along with the rest of the team, was required to do warmup exercises and stretched. This was done in order to help prevent injury by gradually preparing the muscles and body for what was about to come. However, after the sporting event, I was required to cool down. Cooling down is the opposite of warming up but serves the exact purpose. It is to easy the body that has been performing at a high and intense level to return to its normal, pre-exercise state. In other words, it is to help regulate the heart rate and blood flow to average. It also helped decrease the amount of cramping from running. To cool down, my coach would have me walk several laps around the track at a slow to moderate pace. That addressed the physical. However, the mind also mentally needs to cool down. Many times, when a person speaks of mentally cooling down, they are referring to calming themselves from anger. But it is important to keep in mind that not all stress occurs due to something negative. Usually, positive stress is referred to as excitement (e.g., watching a child being born, getting married, winning the lottery).

The mind requires rejuvenating as much as the body. All of the mental energy that has been invested in an event or project cannot pool to the bottom of nothingness. It has to go somewhere. And when it is just standing in a stagnate pool, it will lead to negative thoughts. All the built-up hormones from the anticipation of an event need to be slowly reabsorbed into the body. One of the easiest and quickest ways to do this is to eat a balanced and healthy diet, keep hydrated and rest well.

  1. Start a new project or begin preparing for a new event. Take your mind off of feeling blue by redirecting your energy into a new project. But didn’t I just suggest rest and taking it easy in the previous tip? Yes, but for some people, rest isn’t the answer. My father was the type of person who did not like having a project on deck and two in the wings. He always needed something to occupy his time, or he was not busy. He may have had one or two days off between projects, a week at most. His idea of retirement was remaining active. The pleasure of it was that he had complete control over it. He picked his projects and the amount of time he spent engaged in each. He made his own schedule. By going from project to project, he had no time for disappointment or letdown. Plus, if one of the projects didn’t work out, he had a replacement project waiting. There may be some truth to the theory that remaining active keeps a person young. Developing other interests will never hurt.
  2. Define your purpose. When preparing for a big and/or important event or activity, chances are the person preparing is not devoting much time or attention to other areas in life. Therefore, once the event has ended or subsided, a person may no longer feel he/she has a purpose. This could lead to feeling lost or worthless. In these instances, a person may want to look at all areas of his/her life and consider what other goals he/she has for himself/herself. If none, then maybe it is time to create some. If the person has other goals then it’s time to get busy prioritizing them or just recognizing that he/she has not been defined by a single event. One huge issue for many people is that they allow one event or project to be finite.

I worked with a woman who had a goal of moving from unskilled labor positioned to a para-professional position. It took her more than six years, but she obtained her goal and the newness has not worn off of it for her. Of course, once she was given her new job, the position went to her head, and she became a monster to many of her co-workers. The interesting part is that she was content with the para-professional position, while others in the position expressed goals to continue advancing. For some people, ambition isn’t a thing and that’s no shade. They have one purpose, and once they achieve it, they are content. Good for them. For others, once something has been achieved, that drive becomes absent and complicity becomes their nemesis.

So, those are my tips. What do you think? Have you ever felt down after a big event? How did you cope? What suggestions would you make to someone experiencing this? Tell me what you think in the comments below. And if you would like to see me write more posts like this please let me know.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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