Every year, there are thousands of conventions held worldwide. These conventions come surrounded by the promise of hype, excitement, adventure, affinity, and community! Let’s be real, some of us (myself included) stay glued to our screens anticipating the moment when tickets go on sale, and we can buy our way into the fantastical chaos that comes with every con. Finally, the day roles around and it’s go time! Running around to panels, artist showcases, cosplay meetups, exhibitor booths, and so much more. The rush is constant and the experience is surreal.
Inevitably though, the time arrives when the fun must end. For some of us, it’s as if the rug has been pulled from under our feet. We are left with this sinking feeling of sudden emptiness, a metaphorical void. So what exactly is this phenomenon and what can be done about it? We reached out to some experts, Dr. Janina Scarlet and Dr. Denisse Morales, to get a better idea.
What is it?
Whether you call it “post-con crash,” “post-con depression,” or some other name is irrelevant. What matters is that this circumstance can affect many of us in varying degrees. So let’s dig a little deeper, and take a look at what is actually happening.
When we attend a convention, there is often a constant environment of stimulation. All around us, there is a fluttering and fervor of activity: Panels, stages, performances, games, exhibitions, cosplayers, and celebrities. According to Dr. Morales, this can induce a state of “excitement and anxiety” in the brain. In turn, this leads to a rush of adrenaline and endorphins in the body. Dr. Scarlet mentions that Oxytocin and Dopamine, are particularly prevalent at this time. Oxytocin is a hormone that is often referred to as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone.” Oxytocin is released during social bonding and has a pleasure effect on the body. It makes us feel connected to others and strengthens relational bonds. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. This all means that during a con, we are essentially running on beast mode: our hearts race, our digestive system slows, our energy increases, and our response time is quicker. We feel incredible, invincible, and in-tune to everything around us. But with the rise must come the fall, hence the term “con crash.” After the convention, our bodies literally “crash” from all the endorphins and chemicals returning to a normal state. We find ourselves tired, drained, sad, and lonely. This change in chemicals can be especially hard on people who suffer from anxiety and depression.
With a better understanding for how the post-con experience affects us physically and physiologically, let’s explore things from a psychological standpoint. For a large number of people, attending a convention is the only time they have to express themselves openly. A convention can be a safe space to be a part of a community or fandom to which you hold dear and feel connected. Furthermore, you find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals that share your passions and vision. You are tapped into the larger than life collective consciousness of geekdom and nerdosity. The immersion, the inclusion, the inspiration is overflowing. Thus, it comes as no surprise that when it all ends it feels as though something is missing in our lives. Suddenly, that sense of connection, identification, and community is gone. This loss leaves us feeling a bit lost, saddened, lethargic, and lonely. We may lack an outlet for the things we like in our daily lives. We may not feel like we belong to a community or group that captures our imagination and where our passions are emboldened. We may simply crave the flurry of stimuli and activity that a con presents.
How to Self-Care?
So now that we know a little more about what Post-Con Blues are, both Dr. Scarlet and Dr. Morales have several suggestions on how to Self-Care after a Convention. After all, what’s the point of knowing why you feel bad if you don’t have the means to feel better! This is by no account a comprehensive or absolute guide, but hopefully it can provide you with some insight on self-caring after a con.
Nutrition: During the con, you probably weren’t eating the best food, if you were eating at all (I am usually way too engrossed to eat)! Eating healthy and regularly after the con will help your body return to normal. If you’re feeling tired and sluggish, good nutrition will help to combat this and provide you the energy you need to get moving. Not to mention that during the con you’ve been exposed to a great deal of people, and poor nutrition lowers your immune system. To prevent getting sick, it’s important to have a healthy diet with a mix of vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, and carbs!
Sleep: It’s very possible that during the commotion of the con, getting adequate sleep and rest was low on the priority list. Sleep, however, is one of the most important elements in relation to both mental and physical health. The average adult needs around 8 hours of sleep to function properly. The benefits of getting proper sleep are numerous, but let me lay down a few for you: increases attention, helps you get along with others, reduces stress, improves mood, and enables you to make better decisions. With all that in mind, it’s important to return to your normal sleep routine after a con or potentially even increase the amount of rest you get.
Exercise: This ones sort of a no brainer. Everyone knows about the benefits of exercise, so I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details, but there is a logical reason why it can help in this matter. Exercise releases many of the same endorphins and hormones that we talked about earlier. These endorphins, in turn, trigger positive feelings in your body and reduce stress much in the same way they did during the con! So if you want to emulate the same buzz you had at the convention, consider setting up an exercise program for yourself.
Meaningful Social Connections: Much of the sense of loss and loneliness that comes after a con is due to the fact that people feel as though they don’t have a community to share their fandoms and passions. Maybe it’s time to change that! Today, there are many avenues where you can create or join a community that resonates with you. With social media rampant these days, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Discord (To name a few) are a great place to establish or join an online community. If you’d prefer a more tangible experience, take a look at Eventbrite and Meetup.com to see what events and groups are in your area or simply create your own! You might even discover someone you know shares the same sentiments as you! These social connections can be a great source of support and understanding. It might help to share your passions with them or talk about what the con was like for you. Often, co-workers, friends, classmates, and others around us have hobbies they might have kept secret. Being forthright with them allows an open dialogue about hobbies and passions.
I hope some of these suggestions will be of use to you during your post-con blues. Don’t forget, To join our discord community where we provide support, love, and plenty of conversations surrounding anime and gaming. And remember, no matter how awful you might feel in the moment, that feeling is only temporary and help is always available. Plus there’s always other cons to look forward to in the future!