The Letdown Effect

Well…….we got hit with a bombshell coming off our summit.  One of our team members tested positive for COVID-19.

The staff was all in a tizzy on Monday morning as the leadership team scrambled to communicate stability, confidence and clarity to our team.  I had to remind myself not to take any of the team’s reactions to the news personally.  

It definitely dampened morale for all of us. It does seem that after a climactic event such as a vacation or summit, there is often a crash – or a perception of one.  

This is an interesting article about “The Let Down Effect”  by Shilagh Mirgain PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

“You have this mobilization of inner energies to take action on something big, and afterward you think you’ll be exhilarated because you accomplished it, but you could have this letdown instead. And if people aren’t prepared for it, it can be a crash. The higher the accomplishment, the bigger the crash.”



~ Shilagh A. Mirgain
UW HealthPsychologist

Dr Mirgain talks about finding the right mindset in anticipation of the Let Down Effect:

Mentally prepare:  Get out your crash pads, and expect the Let Down Effect.

Recognize this too shall pass: If you accept this phenomenon and face it, you can often get through it with less difficulty.

Tap into your high-trust relationships: Isolation is dangerous and can exacerbate this funk.  “Social support is one of the most important buffers against depression,” Mirgain notes.

Look for the positives: Recalibrate. This is an opportunity to restart – so give yourself and your team some grace. Quiet time and rest are the keys to recharging.

Savour the memories: Sharing, looking at photos, relieving the positive experience prior to the letdown will help keep the experience alive.

Set a new Goal: Wait until the Letdown event lifts, then reboot.

Don’t give up if it doesn’t go as planned: Remember, we are on a journey. There will be twists and turns that we do not expect. Learn and grow from the unexpected challenges. 

Know when to get help:  If the letdown lasts more than two weeks, you may be slipping into depression, and should seek appropriate professional mental health services. 

With awareness of and mental preparation for the possibility of the Let Down Effect,  you can lessen its effects on both you and your team. You can learn and grow from the experience, remembering that these events provide invaluable stepping stones of growth for all of us.  

Grateful to be on this journey with you,

Dr. Matthew Harkness

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