Apart from historical costuming I also sporadically compete in half marathons. I’ve crossed the finish line twenty-five times and each time, no matter how exhausted I might be, I get that euphoric high. The next day I’m still riding pretty high from the race but then the Post Race Blues kick in. I feel flat, deflated. I’ve trained for weeks, focussed on the goal of beating my best times, I’ve travelled, and I’ve warmed up and jumped about by the start line ready to get going on the course. I’ve pushed through the hard parts of the course and fought against any negative mental thoughts that have tried to worm their way into my brain. I’ve set a goal of crossing that finish line and I’ve done it.
And then….there is nothing. It’s over. There’s nothing more to do. Now what?
It’s similar with historical costuming events – especially the bigger ones. You can spend months preparing for it, sewing a new dress, updating accessories for an existing one, making alterations, making plans, booking tickets, and imagining what the event will be like… It’s been written on your calendar all year and has taken such a long time to arrive until it’s only a month away, then a week, then a day, and finally you’re there in the middle of it.
You’re wearing your outfits, spending time with your friends, making new friends, and enjoying all the events and activities on offer. You’re having so much fun that the time flies by faster than you thought possible and suddenly it’s the afternoon on the last day. How did that happen? Now you have to say goodbye, and pack, and return to your ‘normal’ life.
The post-event blues kick in over the next few days and you find yourself on Facebook scrolling through the photos that everyone has posted. ‘Oh, what fun that was,’ you say to yourself. ‘Ha, I remember when that photo was taken!’ and, ‘I wish I was still there…’
What can you do before and after an event to help alleviate those Post Event Blues?
Be prepared – hands up if you’re very familiar with late night after late night of sewing right before an event? Yes, I put my hand up too. If you can take care of yourself before an event and get plenty of sleep then, not only will you feel fresher and be more alert during the event but it will be easier to bounce back after it has ended.
End on a high note – some of my friends and I have a last hurrah in Oamaru on Sunday night, dressing up one last time to enjoy dinner together. It prolongs the event for us just that little bit longer and it makes parting slightly less sorrowful.
Keep in touch – last year we had a group chat going strong for a couple of weeks after the event where we talked about our return to ‘normal’ and other completely random things, continuing on the comradery. It was easier to adjust to the post-event world because we knew that we were all facing it and helped each other to not dwell on it.
Plan for the next event – sometimes it helps to have something to focus on. Because the Heritage Celebrations happen in November I can switch my thoughts to Christmas and distract myself with Christmas shopping and plans so that I’m not thinking so much about the fact that I’m no longer in Oamaru.
Let it go – if something less than positive happened during the event don’t spend your time dwelling on it. Chances are everyone else has already forgotten that thing you said or did so stop beating yourself up about it. Plus, you know what? At the end of the event, people aren’t going to go and make themselves a Best and Worst Dressed list so if you’re still thinking about how you might have stacked up against others, try to let that go and instead focus on just how much fun you had.
Take some time out – I’m an introvert and restore my energy levels by being on my own for a while so I like to have some ‘me’ time, which helps. If I’m involved in something I enjoy then I can, to some extent, keep going beyond the point of peak-human-interaction, but I need to take some time to myself afterwards to ‘catch up’ before having to deal with people back in the real world.
Sleep in – despite your best intentions to stick to something of a sleeping routine you’ve probably got less sleep than usual. Allow yourself a day to sleep in to catch up on your missed sleep or schedule an early night. Or if you find yourself longing for a nap then go for it. Personally, I’m not someone who can take naps but if I’m travelling soon after an event then I’ll ‘rest my eyes’ on the bus or plane and sometimes I do nod off.
Do something else – if you’ve spent a lot of time before the event getting projects finished, researching and booking travel, making sure that you’ve packed everything, etc, then chances are, you’re suddenly going to find yourself with time on your hands. Instead of lamenting your free hours go and spend time with your family, read that book you put off while you were sewing, go and see that movie you wanted to, or indulge in one of your other hobbies. If you fill your free time constructively then you’re less likely to experience that post-event ‘well, what now?’ feeling.
It’s okay to feel a little down once the event is over – especially if it is one that you’ve been looking forward to and working towards for months. It’s completely normal and completely human. I know that we all wish that an event could go for a little longer – or never end at all – but I think that it makes them all the more special and worth treasuring.