Talk it out

Written by Lacey Liebert, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Today’s tip – Talk it out

Did you see last week’s tip on post-race recovery? Caitlyn Bintz-Ashton talked about this really important time after your goal event is over. If you missed it, head over to the Highland City Striders FB page and scroll down. You can also find all the Tuesday tips on the HCS webpage!

Running Shoes: 'They should be back soon.'How we feel, and what our experiences are like in the minutes, hours, days and weeks after a big event are rarely discussed.

The best advice I have for the less talked about things in life… talk about them more! As a therapist, I always have an ear toward what is not being talked about.

So, what’s happening?

It is not unusual to find yourself preoccupied with an upcoming event, especially as it gets closer and closer. The planning and getting ready triggers something called dopamine to be released in your brain (aka the “Reward Chemical”). We get dopamine hits from things like…

  • Setting and achieving goals
  • Shopping?! New shoes anyone?! (*raises hand*)
  • Talking, training and getting ready
  • Picking out what we are going to wear
  • Imagining, anticipating

This is the same stuff that gets released around exciting and pleasurable things like sex & chocolate, for example.  Dopamine is also triggered in your brain if you abuse drugs… but the difference is that drugs will FLOOD your brain with dopamine, which makes the substance overwhelmingly addicting.

And then what?

When the event is over, there can be a sudden drop in dopamine. With this, we may experience feelings of sadness, loss. The more we were anticipating and planning, the greater the potential for sadness and feeling down. Some of us may become vulnerable to depression. And, what’s worse- a lot of people keep their feelings and experiences to themselves.

Sir Mix-A-Lot-

I like to remind people that we are complicated human beings, and we can feel multiple things all at the same time. Even contradictory things. After a big event, there are so many different things you could be feeling, for all sorts of reasons…

  • Pride, a sense of accomplishment
  • Frustration, anger
  • Disappointment
  • Sadness
  • Surprise, confusion

… to name a few. It is important to know what you are feeling, and to stay curious about it. Ask yourself, what’s going on here? What am I feeling and why?


Do you find yourself becoming self-critical of your thoughts and feelings? This often comes up if we find ourselves feeling sad or down after a big event. Some of us have a little voice in our heads that says “you shouldn’t feel sad about that” or “what’s wrong with you, just get over it.”

If this is you, I would get really curious about where that little voice comes from and what it’s trying to accomplish. For example, some of us have gotten the message growing up that if we are not happy with our circumstances, then we are somehow ungrateful. Or that showing feelings like sadness or disappointment is “weak.” Perhaps these less positive feelings were hard for important others in our lives to handle, so these feelings were discouraged.

The coolest thing about curiosity, especially when it comes to our feelings, is that we gain a better understanding of ourselves. We can build this understanding by talking with someone we trust, who can help us think these things through.

Let it out-

  • Feel the feels
  • Share, share, share
  • Reflect and talk about take-aways
  • Look at pictures
  • Reminisce
  • What were some things you appreciated? What are you proud of? What are some things you learned? What were some things that didn’t go your way?
  • Talk, journal, post…

What are some ways you like to process your experiences after an important event is over?


Disclaimer: The therapeutic relationship and process is unique and unable to be reproduced in a social media post. The advice here represents a generalization of material and ideas. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.

To connect with a therapist, here are some resources: