Seven Steps To Bouncing Back From An Emotional Hangover
I’m going to Portland for the World Domination Summit where over 1,000 change-makers, digital nomads, do gooders, rebels and luminaries will be soaking up wisdom from the keynote speakers, connecting like crazy in the breaks and getting the chance to view the world through a very different lens.
I cannot wait. I’ve got gorgeous business cards. I’ve been planning outfits, booking hotels and connecting with delegates ahead of time
And, I’m aware of what’s bound to happen afterwards…a balls-to-the-wall, crawl back into bed in my Onsie and eat junk food Emotional Hangover.
Yup…it’s that bizarre experience when you’ve had an amazing time and then suddenly you feel:
- Empty and alone
- Craving, craving, craving attention
- Weepy and like you might burst into tears for no reason
- Stressed, on edge and anxious
- Completely unmotivated to do the things you know are healthy for you
Last year I was in Portland for the first time ever for a much smaller scale conference, there were about 30 of us gathered together for an intimate long weekend of business brainstorming, forging new friendships and helluva lot of laughs.
Erica and Abby are now all in my life and I’m incredibly grateful to have met each of these amazing women. We bonded over glasses of wine, healthy Buddha bowls of rice and veggies at a downtown yoga studio and smash and grab raids round Wholefoods.
I was on a total high all weekend long…I came to Portland with a familiar nervousness of the group vibe; would I fit in, would there be cliques, will anyone talk to me and ended up diving into a weekend of laughs, big light bulb moments and a contagious kind of energy that got me through some horrible jet lag!
Before I knew it, the weekend was over and as I headed back to my hotel with a day and a half to myself to spend in Portland, I felt flat, depressed, lacking in energy and on the constant verge of tears.
How had this delicious experience turned on a dime to leave me teetering on the edge of a depressive slump?
Stepping back and reviewing what had happened, it occurred to me that I’d gone from the hyper-stimulation of being surrounded by people from 8 in the morning until 9 at night brainstorming, challenging each other and bonding super-quick to being alone in city I didn’t know and where I didn’t know anyone.
It’s the emotional equivalent of getting completely hammered and having an amazing night and waking up the next day with a thumping headache in the cold, harsh light of day.
This isn’t the first time it’s happened, either. I went to New York to Marie Forleo’s RHH Live in November 2010 and came back feeling exactly the same. I came back from my best friend’s wedding in the South France feeling weepy and depressed after celebrating an amazing event in the most stunning surroundings in the company of some awesome people.
I know I’m not the only person who’s experienced this…and I’m an extrovert, meaning I’m energised and recharged by being in groups surrounded by people. Bridget Pilloud has publicly said she isn’t going to WDS this year because last year it took four days in bed to recover! So I’m willing to bet you’ve also got examples of your own emotional hangover situations – after a great holiday, after a reunion, after a wedding or just a great night out.
So the question that’s buzzing around for me right now is what can I do to step up my self-care and nourish myself when we all pack up and go home. Here are my seven steps to curing an emotional hangover:
- Recognise it – the first part of recognising it has been posting here and sharing with you all that I know it will be around for me. This time around, I’ll recognise the symptoms and be available to be tender and gentle with myself when I start feeling bereft and alone.
- Journal – putting pen to paper helps me process so much, so in the middle of the maelstrom of feelings that are swirling around when I’m in the middle of an emotional hangover, sitting quietly with a pen and my journal will help me process what’s happened and what I feel needs to happen next.
- Practice an Attitude of Gratitude – whenever I can bring an attitude of gratitude to swirling, difficult emotions I notice that they shape-shift really quickly. I am committing to spending time during my emotional hangover focusing on the people I’ve met, the connections I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned. I don’t believe that a gratitude mindset and a victim mindset can co-exisit.
- Motion creates emotion – something Tony Robbins is famous for saying, and dammit, he’s right! Your physical state directly impacts your mood so I’ll be watchful for a tendency to want to slump into a sofa and become part of the furniture. On my self-care menu will be options for walking, yoga and dancing to awesome tunes.
- Eat nourishing foods – when I’ve had emotional hangovers in the past, I’ve wanted to reach for any carbs with melted cheese on them followed by anything with melted chocolate on it washed down with Coke. It’s not that I think anything is wrong with those foods, it’s that I know when I’m reaching for them when I’m in this frame of mind, I’m eating to numb my emotions and that’s not loving or nourishing in any way. I’ll be making choices to treat my body with tenderness and love and eat foods that result it feeling vital and alive…not heavy and sluggish.
- Reaching out vs curling inwards – when I’m feeling emotionally vulnerable I know I have a tendency to curl inwards. I ignore my phone and don’t call my friends and I don’t ask for help. This time I have meeting with my Sisterhood Council the week I get back – they’ve been tasked with holding me accountable for when I’m hiding, so just knowing I’ve committed to meeting them helps. I will be making it a priority to share myself with them in that space…to ask for and receive their help.
- Embrace the opposite energy – the energy it takes to strike up conversations with strangers, put myself out there, stay up late and get up early, brainstorm ideas and drive forward is a very masculine energy. An emotional hangover is a sign that it’s time to embrace the feminine energy of restoring, recharging and resting. I’ll sleep and nap when I need to, book a massage to calm my over-taxed and over-stimulated nervous system and set time aside to integrate everything that came before. This will not be the time to dive headlong back into Twitter, Facebook, email and everything else.
More than anything else, I won’t be beating myself up for feeling like I’ve binged on the one thing we all crave – connection. Because it’s the very best part of being alive