How to counteract the emotional stress of the World Cup (or any sports event)

June 17, 2010 by  
Filed under STRESS

Ok, so I like watching football every now and then but I am not one of those fanatics (fans for short!) who would stay up the whole night to watch all the games. Sorry to say this, but some matches can be downright boring. I mean where is the fun in watching 20 guys kicking a ball listlessly back and forth listlessly for 90 minutes and not even getting within 1 meter of the goal and ending up with a 0:0 score?

But there are matches which are so exciting and can be emotional stressful that I can truly understand why the rate of heart attacks spikes during major football tournaments. Take the game between European champions Spain and the underdog Switzerland yesterday. It was plain nerve-wracking, and a friend called it “a pain to watch”, especially in the second half.

So how did I make sure that my heart didn’t suffer too much during these stressful moments of the match? Well, here is what I usually do (and what I did yesterday):

Scream and shout. I do not repress my excitement, at least when I am watching the game at home. Screaming certainly helps me a lot when I saw the ball heading towards the goal. Okay, so it is not good for my vocal cords, not to mention for the people sitting next to me. But it eases the strain on my heart. Repressing excitement is actually bottling up feelings. The pressure builds up and can eventually explode. Screaming is the vent to ease the pressure.

Stand and jump. I can seldom sit for long while watching football. Standing, I can stretch, bend, pace around and jump up and down when the moment warrants it. It also prevents me from being sedentary. But something to lean on is great.

Drink plenty of liquids. This will drive me to the bathroom every now and then which is a good thing – I get to exercise and take a break. But I avoid alcoholic drinks or stimulants (e.g. coffee) though.

Tweet and post n Facebook. I am not really a big Twitter or FB user. But I did have my laptop nearby yesterday and posting on FB helped ease my tension and even added to the fun. Short tweets can be done through iPhone, too.

Walk away. If the emotional stress really gets too tough for me, then I walk away. It is equivalent to covering my eyes during the most suspenseful parts of films. I will always know the outcomes so why should I subject myself to the torture?

Watching the World Cup can be emotionally stressful. Or watching any favorite sports events for that matter. So what are your strategies in easing the stress to your heart at times like these? Share with us.

Stress and Alcohol

August 26, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

‘She drove me to drink’ used to be a popular phrase. Its essential meaning is that stress induces people to consume alcohol. While it’s true that stress can be an incentive to drink, it’s equally true that heavy alcohol consumption causes stress.

Moderate alcohol intake, to be sure, can have beneficial effects. Research suggests that small amounts can even improve mental functioning and increase performance in problem solving while stressed. But, there are also studies that demonstrate that large quantities, particularly when consumed for long periods, actually worsens stress.

Large alcohol consumption stimulates the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. One result is an increase in the amount of cortisol produced within the body. Another is an increase in adrenaline. Both those, while they don’t alone cause stress, play a large role in the symptoms.

Extreme stress makes it more difficult to concentrate. One of the obvious effects of high alcohol intake is to produce that exact effect. Thus, heavy drinkers get a double whammy just at the moment they need mental clarity most.

Other studies suggest that chronic drinkers have symptoms similar to those seen in children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Children of those drinkers, this research concludes, have a higher incidence of actual ADHD.

So, it may also be true that as much as the stress of parenting may lead to drinking, adult drinking may encourage the circumstances that incent the parent to drink. It may be a factor in producing children’s symptoms that lead to adult stress.

Exercise is known to help relieve the symptoms of stress. Unfortunately, one of the additional results of excessive alcohol consumption is decreased exercise. Few inebriated people want to go a few rounds on the weight machine.

Similarly, high alcohol intake suppresses appetite. Thus, at the same time alcoholic drinks pour in the calories, they decrease the incentive to maintain a healthy diet. Once again the drinker experiences a doubly negative reinforcing effect.

Those who drink excessively to escape stress motivated by money concerns find it more difficult to cope with the problem that caused the stress in the first place. Even simple tasks like balancing a checkbook are clearly more difficult when drunk. But beyond such minor details, the cognitive functions needed to develop long term strategies are impaired. Drinkers literally can’t think their way out of the problems causing the stress.

In all these cases there is a vicious cycle established. Stress encourages heavy drinking, which makes it more difficult to deal with the internal and external factors that led to stress in the first place. Though the specific numbers will vary from person to person, when the average individual drinks more than the equivalent of two or three shots of whiskey per day, the results are inevitably bad.

The key to breaking this vicious cycle is to seek alternative methods for dealing with stress. Both the symptoms and the underlying motivators are subject to change in almost all cases. Proper exercise and diet is a good beginning. A realistic attitude about life’s inherent challenges can go a long way, as well. But, as with any psychological problem, admitting it exists is the first necessary step.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.