First a quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it’s happened!” – Dr. Seuss
For most of my career, I have facilitated workshops and seminars for a living. I still enjoy doing that work today and have found it to be wonderfully gratifying. Over the years, however, I have often experienced an “emotional letdown” at the conclusion of many workshops, almost a kind of sadness, or depression. I call it the “post-workshop blues!”
This reaction is common for me even after successful events with satisfied clients and glowing participant feedback. One would think a successful event would lead to a vastly different set of emotions. I never really gave it too much thought until I shared those observations with other professional facilitators; they reported similar experiences, with similar emotions, following positive client events.
There is a simple explanation for this phenomenon. My facilitator friends and I have discussed the energy we invest into planning, creating, and delivering, high-energy learning environments yielding positive participant experiences. Often, for six to seven hours or more, we’re exerting immense amounts of energy into being “on,” to be engaging, interesting, enlightening, and informative.
We’re simultaneously facilitating discussions and activities, listening, modeling, watching the clock, monitoring the agenda, thinking about what’s next, and focusing on the expected learning objectives of the day.
That invested energy of being “on” is a form of stress which psychologists call eustress. Eustress is caused by positive stressors, as opposed to negative stressors, which are referred to as distress. So, when the workshops conclude, and the eustress of the high-adrenaline day ends, it leaves a void, an emotional vacuum of sorts. This void often feels like a kind of slump, mild depression, or as I have described, “the post-workshop blues.”
Have you ever experienced “the blues” after returning from a wonderful vacation, or perhaps on Sunday evening after an enjoyable weekend? If so, then you have a good sense of what I’m describing. This phenomenon is sometimes called the post-vacation syndrome and is quite common for many people.
This is also the same kind of positive stress people experience when planning a wedding, starting a new job, giving a speech, buying a home, and even… surviving the holiday season in good cheer!
According to a study by the National Alliance of Mental Illness, more the 64% of people report being affected by holiday depression. People spend days, or even weeks, investing physically and emotionally (eustress) while planning, cooking, shopping, gift-wrapping, cleaning, and decorating. This does not include the emotional tensions and pressures that can come with family gatherings and social events.
Now, add COVID-19, and all things 2020 to the mix, and it is reasonable to assume the post-holidays blues are, or will be, even more prevalent this year for many more people. For our family, and millions of other families, this holiday season was emotional for other reasons.
We lost my mother-in-law this year right before Thanksgiving and, we would have celebrated her 96th birthday last week on Christmas Eve. This will be a year of “firsts” without Mom in our presence.
So here we are, we haven’t even celebrated the arrival of the New Year yet and many are already experiencing the post-holiday blues. What’s a person to do? I offer the following tips:
- Don’t be critical of yourself as a person based on the emotions you feel. Emotions, in and of themselves, are neither good nor bad, they simply are. Emotions are what provide our lives with richness and depth.
- Allow yourself grace and compassion regarding the emotions you feel.
- Get out of your own head and focus on others. What can you do to provide joy and happiness to those around you? Click here to read: Not Feeling the Joy this Year?
- Without emotional “lows” we wouldn’t experience emotional “highs.” It is the darkness that makes the morning light so bright. A good laugh is deeper when we have experienced tears.
- Eat better. Now that the celebrations are over, it is time to put away the sugar and butter and eat healthy again. Experts tell us our emotional health is impacted by what we eat. Choose healthy.
- Exercise. Go for a walk, go to the gym, (if you can do so safely) do a couple sets of stairs. Just get moving, the refrigerator is more powerful when sitting in your chair in front of the TV.
- Be patient. Post-vacation, post-holiday blues are normal for most people.
Please note, while the “Holiday Blues” are natural and normal, clinical depression can be serious. If your symptoms persist, or are unusually severe, consider consulting a specialist or medical professional.
PS – On a happier note: Yesterday, Sunday the 27th, was my 65th birthday. To celebrate, I set a “Birthday-BHAG” (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) of feeding 65,000 hungry, homeless, veterans, and/or families with food insecurities. To reach that goal, I need 200 donations of $65 each (or any equivalent). As of Sunday afternoon, I was at approximately 79 donations of $65 for a total of $5,100. I would be grateful for your support. Thank you for your consideration!
How will you live, love, or lead better this coming week?
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way.” – Mavis Mazhura
- “It isn’t stress that makes us fall–it’s how we respond to stressful events.” – Wayde Goodall
- “Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.” – Vincent van Gogh
- “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”– Dale Carnegie
- “Our feelings are not there to be cast out or conquered. They’re there to be engaged and expressed with imagination and intelligence.”– T.K. Coleman