How Families Can Remain Calm and Carry on After their Team Loses

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Today in the United States, sports has become a year-round activity, involving families not only on the sports field but also off the field.

In the past, the majority of sports fans were men, but that has gradually changed. Today both men and women are arm chair quarterbacks, watching college and professional games.

In fact, according to a Neilson Media Research poll, over 14 million people watching major sporting events like the NBA finals, Daytona 500, or World Series are females. On Super Bowl Sunday 2011, almost half of the 111 million viewers were women.

Families enjoy the camaraderie of watching sports and agonize over the “Win/Loss” records of their hometown professional sports team. They join together on the day of the big games, wearing their team jerseys, t-shirts and team baseball caps; and being sports enthusiasts, they scream and yell at the television or from the stands during the big game.

Decreasing Anxiety

Sporting events are a great way to bring families together. With a bit of understanding regarding physiology, watching games can be more comfortable for the whole family.

Many tell us they scream and yell during games, become anxious and even angry. It can be very stressful when your favorite team loses the big game, or even worse, the playoffs.

We have some suggestions that we believe will make these events more comfortable for you and your entire family.

Differences between Men and Women

While there are a lot of similarities between men and women when it comes to stress, let us start by explaining the difference in physiology related to male and female sports fans.

Dr. John Gottman, the renown family therapist, has done extensive research with couples and found that when a man is aroused by excitement or anger it takes him a minimum of twenty minutes to return to his resting heart rate. Dr. Gottman also found that women have a different hormonal balance and are less easily aroused and quicker to calm down.

Acute Stress Syndrome

Research done on both men and women at John’s Hopkins University shows that a sudden shock or high levels of arousal can cause symptoms that mimic a heart attack as adrenaline binds to heart cells and can stun the heart.

This syndrome is called acute stress cardiomyopathy. Although sports fans may experience chest pain while watching games, have no fear, this is not a heart attack.  Most people don’t have a problem and it is completely reversible.

So how does one remain calm and carry on despite a team loss? We have the following suggestions for reducing stress while watching sports events:

  1. Take a walk prior to the game or during half time.
  2. If you don’t want to leave the couch, wiggle your toes and clasp your hands on the top of your head to release chest pressure.
  3. Get up during the game and take a break; get something to drink, wash your hands, etc.
  4. Look at pictures of your family pet or someone else’s pet for a brief distraction.
  5. Swap a joke or funny story unrelated to the game; laughter can decrease your stress level for up to 45 minutes.
  6. Give yourself time and space to “cool down” after the big game.

Much of this advice also works when involved in stressful situations or family disputes.

Is fan fever a issue in your life?

About the Author

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Dr. Gloria Horsley MFC CNS Ph.D. is the Founder and President of the Open to Hope Foundation a multi-media, web-based resource for the bereaved. Gloria is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 25 years. Gloria co-hosts the Internet radio show, “Open to Hope,” and has authored a number of books and articles. She is the co-author along with her daughter Heidi of Open to Hope: Inspirational Stories of Healing after loss and Open to Hope: Inspirational Stories of Handling The Holidays. She has been on a number of radio and television shows including “The Today Show”.Dr. Heidi Horsley is a licensed psychologist and social worker, and is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation. Dr. Heidi is in private practice in Manhattan. In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. An internationally known grief expert, author, and bereaved sibling, Heidi co-hosts the syndicated internet radio show, Open to Hope. She serves on the National Board of The Compassionate Friends and on the Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). She has written numerous articles for professional journals, and is co-author of the books, Open to Hope, Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss; Real Men Do Cry: A Quarterback’s Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression and Surviving Suicide Loss; and Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding Support and Guidance. Dr. Heidi earned a doctorate in psychology (Psy.D.) from the University of San Francisco; a master’s degree in social work (L.M.S.W.) from Columbia University, and in mental health counseling (M.S.) from Loyola University in New Orleans.

Read more from Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley

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