December 30, 2020
With the holiday season right around the corner I wanted to discuss something a lot of people don’t think about as often as they should. What I’m talking about is something I often refer to as “The Big Drop.” The better, scholarly term is “The Let Down Effect” but I like The Big Drop better as I feel it more accurately describes my own personal symptoms. I first learned about this phenomenon while I was in therapy. Defined by Dr. Marc Schoen: “The Let Down Effect is a condition that leads to illness or symptoms following stressful events, such as conflict, time pressured work projects, or school exams.” To some of you reading this, that may sound a bit dramatic. Let me explain.
Do you know that excitement you get right before the night of an event or holiday? The tightness in your chest, the brain brimming with thoughts and possibilities? This is accompanied by a rush of chemicals into our brains that tell us “HEY! You’re excited!” Seems great huh? However, what I’m talking about here is what happens after. What are we left with when all those feelings go away? We are left with The Big Drop. For some, this could mean slight disappointment that the event is over. Others may have a full on flu or cold. Now, this doesn’t mean that you will get sick after every event. This is just a reminder that if you are feeling these emotions on any level, they are normal. Think of a rollercoaster. You build up and up and up and up and suddenly, you drop. It’s over. You are left feeling empty and exhausted most likely.
Now that we know this phenomenon exists, how do we help? There are quite a few things that I have found to be helpful for me, personally. Often when I am in a big moment of those rushing thoughts I try to focus on my surroundings as much as I can. This is referred to as grounding. An important reminder to yourself not to worry about the future. Now is what matters. The only thing you can control in life is yourself and it is important to take a deep breath as soon as you notice yourself feeling overwhelmed by the holidays. This year especially, we should be patient with our minds. We are living through a worldwide pandemic (sorry to remind you!) And all of our brains are working overtime to keep the peace. The first step to healing is acknowledging that something is wrong. I know for me, personally, there may be a short period of depression after big events. This doesn’t have to be this way. Keeping a journal and writing down all of the positive memories you can think of from the event helps immensely. That way you know you can look back on them at anytime.
I certainly don’t have a cure-all for The Big Drop but I do have some advice. Try your hardest to be present with any family you are fortunate enough to have with you this year. They are memories that will be cherished forever. Nobody will remember how “dirty” you think your house was, they will remember your smile and generosity. We are human, unfortunately. Holidays are not the be all end all.
Go drink some hot cocoa & relax.
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Thanks for reading, Friends.