The bittersweet feeling of leaving a convention is so pervasive in the community that we’ve given it a name: Post-Con Depression. Leaving the fun, welcoming environment of an anime convention for the harsh, unforgiving "real world" can be a downer, and Post-Con Depression can hit pretty hard. There are ways to soften the blow, but some of us have managed to defeat Post-Con Depression completely and turn it around into what I like to call Post-Con Motivation.
Here are some things I do that curb Post-Con Depression and promote Post-Con Motivation.
1. Begin planning the next con immediately.
Get that hotel reserved ASAP. Line up your roommates. Coordinate your cosplays. Start tweaking your panel content. The point is to have your next convention on the brain before you even leave the one you’re at. A friend of mine likes to reserve his room for the next year’s Anime Boston before even leaving his room at the current year’s AB.
What planning the next convention as soon as possible does is makes the next con not seem so far off. As a result, the thought process becomes “The con may be over, but it won’t be that long until the next one.”
2. Stay in touch with friends you made at the con.
Conventions are a great place to make friends and meet cool people, but leaving those people and knowing you won’t be able to talk to the until the next con can be depressing. Exchange Twitter handles, Skype contacts, Facebook, etc. to stay in touch between cons. In addition, many conventions have Facebook groups where attendees hang out and post things. This way, con life can bleed into your real life and softens the transition.
3. Stay through Sunday. Leave on Monday.
My Anime Boston group has gotten into the habit of reserving our hotel room until Monday, instead of leaving on Sunday. Leaving the con on Sunday makes Sunday a stressful day, and stress is a heavy contributor to PCD. Between trying to pack everyone’s stuff in time to check out, waiting for an elevator (Or taking the stairs down with all your luggage), and still trying to make it to events on Sunday, which might involve waiting in a luggage check line or carrying more than you usually carry around the con, Sunday might just be the toughest day of the con.
Leaving Monday solves all of those problems and turns Sunday into the most relaxing day of the con. It allows you to get in those Sunday panels and those last-minute dealer room runs without worrying, and after closing ceremonies are finished, it lets you return to the hotel room and hang out with your roommates. Watch anime. Build one of those Gundam models you bought. Have an impromptu cosplay photoshoot in the hotel room. And when you do have to leave, it’s painless.
Cons are stressful, and stress contributes to PCD in a big way. Staying until Monday not only decreases stress, but the extra time you spend with the people you came to the con with helps ease the transition from con-mode to normal mode.
You also don’t get that feeling of being home Sunday evening and thinking “Wow, just a few hours ago, I was at the con…”
I like to use one of my work vacations for the week after the con, or at least a few days post-con. Then I turn my alarm off. It’s one of the few times I don’t feel guilty about waiting up at 1PM. You probably didn’t get a proper sleep during the convention, so do your body and mind a huge favor and give them as much time as they need to recover.
You probably didn’t eat the best of food, either, so eat some real food.
6. Catch up on media.
Take some time to catch up on the media you missed while at the con. Read new posts from blogs you subscribe to, watch new videos from YouTubers you subscribe to, listen to any new episodes of podcasts you follow. It gives you something to look forward to when you get back home.
7. Have long-term projects to work on.
This is where the “motivation” comes in. If you have something to look forward to getting home from a con, Post-Con Depression can turn into Post-Con Motivation very easily. The point is to have something you enjoy doing that you must leave behind when you’re at the convention. For example, I can’t work on my websites from the con. I can certainly prepare content to post, but I can’t do back-end work, or approve comments. My interaction on Twitter is reigned in as well.
When I get home, I’m happy to jump back in. This also plays back into the first point if your project is something you take to cons or promote at cons.
Post-Con Depression sucks. Leaving a con and coming back to the real world sucks. There’s no way to make the transition suck less, but it’s possible to redirect the energy spend dwelling on that into something productive. In the one to four weeks following each convention, I get a lot done, and it’s very satisfying. I’m not happy that the con is over, but I’m satisfied that I got a lot of work done, and that’s what gets me through.