What to Do After Exhilaration

And now, a Lightning Note in five words:

After exhilaration, the cool down.

But those five words are a touch paltry, all aroma with no food. So, let’s go in deeper.

Tales abound of rock ‘n rollers’ saucy mischief after concerts. I read about a comedian who didn’t know what to do with his post-show energy. When the roar of the crowd is over, are athletes supposed to do some toe touches, eat rice and veggies, then hit the hay?

Coming down from exhilaration is not only an issue for the headliners; it’s an issue for any of us.

No high compares to the high of exhilaration. It’s aliveness, addictive as nicotine. We crave it, try to recreate it when it’s over. If unable to, and we will likely be unable to, we can feel empty and sad as a shell with no clam inside. Our energy may do odd things, be punchy and erratic or sad and flat. It’s looking, I think, for something to ground it after the soar of exhilaration.

In sports, we do warm-ups - ramping our body up from ordinary operating mode - and cool downs - ramping our body back down to ordinary operating mode. Exhilaration is similar; we must bring ourselves down from exhilaration back to regular life.

What’s a good exhilaration cool down?

Right now, it helps me to acknowledge to myself, “That was totally exhilarating! It’s decompression time now.” I keep my post-event calendar clear if I can; I’m zonked, or will be at any moment, and trying to go, go or do, do is futile. If I have excess energy, I put on a juicy podcast and walk it off. These help, but my cool down needs more of my consideration.

Recently, I heard of an athlete who has been pro for 16 years, eons in most athletic careers. By the looks of it, he gives as much attention to his post-game cool-down as he does to the game itself, the intensity of exhilaration matched with a recovery of apparently equal intensity. I don’t know what the secret to his longevity is, but dedicated on-time paired with dedicated turning off-time surely doesn’t hurt.

Before we wrap up, one more thing: exhilaration is aliveness. So, too, is our ordinary operating mode. If we pay enough attention to see it.

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