APLIC finished a few weeks ago but I’m just coming out of the other side of “post conference thud”. That feeling of spending several days absorbing new ideas and trying to connect them to your work as well as save them for future reference, talking until you lose your voice, meeting new people, re-connecting with friends and colleagues, not sleeping very well due to being totally wired and awake until the wee hours of the morning and the exhaustion that goes with being “on” for a week.
And then you return home and go back to work and spend the first week post-conference picking up all the threads, restarting conversations and projects, finding where all the socks went at home and who is enrolling in what electives for next year and finding your “non-conference life” groove again.
A couple of weeks after APLIC I was more exhausted and mentally wrung out. The thud became complete overwhelm and I was full of doubt – did I really do a “good job” at the conference? Was I useful as a state manager? Did I connect with enough people? Did people who complimented on the podcast really mean it? Did I go to the right sessions? Yes. I spiralled. Exhaustion rolls out the welcome mat for these thoughts – every single time.
At least I recognised how being tired + negative had joined forces and that what I really needed to do was give myself a big pat on the back and a large exuberant high five. But how?
Ask Twitter of course…
Do you need to stop and take stock of your work and personal wins (big and small)? Me too. But first…how do you stop? Feels like everything is flying past and I’m missing the good feels.
— Sally Turbitt (@sallyturbitt) August 9, 2018
And as always, the answers were generous and kind:
Have you tried a celebration grid? https://t.co/vPqnoZcJLq it could go on your wall and you fill it with sticky notes. A good visual that can be added to as you have time
— Sally Pewhairangi aka The Library Boss (@sallyheroes) August 9, 2018
I use apps 🤓 @breatheapp and calm are two great examples for mindfulness and help me to take time for myself (for a few minutes!)
— Jessica Lonard (@jessica_lonard) August 9, 2018
Taking a moment to review your calendar and write a list can help. It can put just a little space between the things and the doing of the things and helps stop them swirling around in your head. Also consider writing down what you did rather than just what is still to be done.
— Kate Byrne (@katecbyrne) August 10, 2018
Schedule some time to do nothing – except to think about all the cool stuff you’ve done?
— Wild Eep (@katbhave) August 9, 2018
A Ta-da list instead of a to do list.
— Liz at the Library (@lizatthelibrary) August 10, 2018
I do tai chi to chill out & make some mental space for myself. #breathe
— Michael Barry (@TheLiBarryan) August 9, 2018
And this reply from Lyndelle helped me to feel less alone with these thoughts.
Yes, when I wake in the middle of the night and my brain is full of all the things, it isn’t to pat myself on the back for a job well done the previous day. It’s reminding me of all the things I didn’t get done, the things I didn’t do well 🙁
— Lyndelle Gunton (@lyndelleg) August 9, 2018
So what now? I listened to all this advice and felt really motivated to make the ones that appealed to me actually happen. I made a ta-da list, and an achievement board, scheduled quiet time, spoke to friends who make me feel good, spent time with family doing things we love and took some time away from screens and everything online. I’ve also read a bit more than usual and spent more time outside. These are all things I know I should do, but they end up at the bottom of the list when the THUD happens. It’s a work in progress and each time I hit that low bit, I get a bit better at taking action and recognising the signs.
What do you do when you’re overwhelmed? How do you cope with the post-conference thud? I’d love to hear what you do.