The Brains Have It: Dealing With Post-Event Let-Down

Human Brain on Blue Background

The feeling of loss and of emptiness that usually hits me after a busy event planning season is real and makes me afraid for the next season.

From January through April, I generally have three programs which run from five days to 10 days each. Two of the programs generally occur back-to-back. The work for these programs usually begins in the fall of the previous year and therefore, from October through April I am fulfilled. During this time I am content—busy as can be and loving every minute of it.

I’m needed, I have the answers, I'm being a solution maker, a problem solver, a negotiator for my clients. I'm working to my full potential and appreciated for my efforts. And then, it’s all over.

The event has concluded, the attendees have gone home, the billing has been paid, the post-con reporting has been filed, and the client’s final payment has been received. I am no longer needed.

The feeling which always hits me is one of "let-down." I spend the next week walking around in a dazed fog with the mantra—“All that work and it’s just over, just like that.”

It seems so anti-climatic, so unimportant. I start going through in my head all the things that could have worked better, items I should have planned for, should have included to ensure the event was that much better.

I begin to question, doubt and feel bad.

Because I hate this feeling (and I don’t hate much) I wanted to find out what was causing it so I did a little research. In this research I found Loretta G. Breuning Ph.D., whose focus is established in helping individuals understand the ups and downs of their mammal brain.

From my findings, many psychologists call this effect The Dopamine Let-Down. In essence—and in simplest of terms—when we are working towards a large goal, we have a rush of dopamine (a natural body chemical) flowing through our brain. When the goal is achieved, your body naturally reduces the levels of dopamine. 

In addition, as event planners we feel important, needed, relied upon during the planning and on-site phase. This boosts our Serotonin Levels, another natural happy high. When the event is over and the demands of being so important dissipate the serotonin levels in our brain also dissolve.

The negative thoughts come from the fact the brain is returning to normal—it had gotten used to the euphoric fill of dopamine and serotonin and the normalcy of it all is shocking. It’s like detox for the brain.

I will admit I already feel somewhat better just knowing these are chemical responses within my brain, however, it is still a ghastly feeling. And, knowing this is a cycle that will occur before, during and after each event—how can I better prepare myself for it?

I know I can’t be alone out there with this feeling. What do you do to celebrate your success and minimize the disappointment with the event being over? What do you do to quell the Dopamine/Serotonin Let-Down?

Posted by Larissa J. Schultz, CMP, MHA

Larissa is a writer, author, and professional speaker in the hospitality industry. She is also an adjunct professor at Glendale Community College teaching in the Hospitality and Tourism program.

Follow Larissa on Twitter: @LarissaJSchultz
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Editors' Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.

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