What’s the Let-Down Effect? Here’s How I Dealt With It

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Monica Drake

| 3 min read

I know a lot of people experience an emotional “hangover” after something they’ve been looking forward to is over. That’s why January is dubbed the most depressing month of the year – when the holidays are over and it’s back to reality.
My December felt like it was go, go, go. Actually, my whole 2023 felt like it was go, go, go. Now, without as much to look forward to, I find myself suddenly feeling unmotivated, listless, and slightly depressed. The only thing I really want to do is sleep – just go into hibernation like a bear.
If you’re feeling similar, know that it’s normal to feel this way; you’re not being dramatic. Mental health professionals have even given this feeling a name: the let-down effect.
"When we think about the process that goes into a big event, including the preparation and anticipation of the event outcomes, it comes along with a lot of dopamine release,” Dr. Elizabeth Fedrick, a licensed professional counselor in Arizona, tells Livestrong. “(Then) all those biochemicals that had been flooding your body with excitement and anticipation start to deplete and are not as active.”
That’s how I felt after getting married last year. I didn’t know what to do with all the extra space in my brain that had been consumed with wedding planning. So, my now-husband and I spent almost every weekend in November after our honeymoon lying on the couch, binge-watching shows on Hulu. After being so busy, it was hard not to think, “How are you doing nothing right now? You don’t have time for this! Stop being lazy!”
But for the first time in a long time, I actually DID have the time to do nothing. For you, when you no longer have any gifts to buy or parties to go to in January, take advantage of that time, and remind yourself that it’s okay to take some time to yourself. You don’t need to feel guilty about it. Your body deserves – and needs – time to relax.
"Rest and breaks are critical to your function, creativity, and overall wellbeing,” Lana Lipe, a licensed clinical social worker in Hawaii, told Livestrong. “Your worth and value as a person isn't conditional, nor is it something you only deserve when you are producing something.”
It’s also important to take time to appreciate what you did. Think about how your child’s face lit up when they woke up on Christmas morning. And reminiscence about the fun times you had with family members and friends at holiday outings.
“Remembering and savoring the event, whether it’s through photos or telling people about it, can help keep the experience alive. Even though it’s done, you still have the memory,” says Dr. Shilagh A. Mirgain of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
“When you achieve (a goal), you receive something indefinable that is something you always carry. No one can take that away from you.”
Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Monica Drake

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