Monday, December 26, 2022

Coming down after a big event – how to land softly

It’s the day after Christmas Day and, however well or badly it went, there can be a sense of a let-down.

After any big event like Christmas or an important choir concert, there needs to be a transition back to ‘normal’. This is not always easy! Here are some ideas of how to deal with the come down.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, there will always be assumptions made about a forthcoming big event.

We worry that it will go well (or badly!), we might anticipate a triumph (or a disaster!), we expect everyone to be on good form and to enjoy the event, we might hope it turns out as well as it did the last time, we perhaps dread it and wish it were over.

Whatever our hopes and fears, the event will usually turn out differently to what we imagined.

If the event is a huge success (our in-laws behaved themselves at the dinner table or the audience gave us a standing ovation), the following day can feel like an anti-climax.

Suddenly we are on our own again back in the real world. The adulation is no more. The friends and family have left. We only have our memory.

If the event goes really badly (we have a big fight with our sister over presents or many of the songs in the concert just went wrong), the following day can leave us feeling that we’ve failed.

We are on our own and end up beating ourselves up and replaying the event in our minds. There is nobody there to blame except ourselves. The awful event locks into our memory.

How can we deal with these feelings the day after the night before?

Here are a few ideas that might help.

  • do a debrief on paper – while the event is fresh in your mind, go over all the things that worked and didn’t work. Put them on paper, then forget them. Much later on you can go back to what you’ve written and maybe do things differently next time. Get it out of your head so you don’t keep going over things.
  • look forward – rather than back at the event – even if the event went well. It’s over and you can’t hold onto it. Focus on what you can do practically for events in the future. Giving your attention to a forthcoming event will help you to let the past go.
  • do something completely different – take part in something entirely unrelated to the event concerned. If it was a concert, then do something creative that doesn’t involve music or singing. If it was a Christmas Day gathering, maybe go on a short solitary retreat.
  • re-connect with the real world – the best (and easiest) way to do this is to get back in touch with nature. Go on a walk, preferably by yourself or with people who have no connection with the event itself. Feel the earth, be aware of the wind in your hair, smell the air, bathe in the light of the sky.
  • get a perspective – remind yourself that, in the greater scheme of things, your event wasn’t that significant. Christmas Day is but one day in 365. A concert is just a show.
  • cultivate a “beginner’s mind”beginner’s mind is a concept from Zen Buddhism. It basically means that every time you approach an event or task, approach it as if you are a beginner and have never done anything like that before. This means that next time a similar event comes round, you won’t have to deal with the baggage of the last time the event happened. You can start with a clean slate and no preconceptions.
  • don’t hold on – it’s tempting when something great happens to try to hold onto that feeling. You want to hang onto that warm fuzzy feeling of family or being in a group. You want to bathe in the affirmation of the audience applause. But you can’t hold onto things because everything changes. It will only bring sadness at some point. Similarly, don’t hold onto all those negative thoughts if your event went badly. These things will pass. It’s best not to read any of your reviews, whether good or bad.

Do you have any routines or particular approaches to helping with the come down after a big event? We’d love to hear from you. 


Chris Rowbury


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