Perhaps it was during a particular match that you finally realised it, or perhaps you worked it out over a longer, more drawn out period. Long, painful, trophy-free years….seasons filled with clueless managers, hopeless players and never-ending boardroom battles…
However you came to it, the conclusion is clear; your football club – the team that you’ve given your heart and soul to – is trying to kill you.
Don’t take it personally though…all football teams are trying to bump off their fans and I’ve got the evidence to prove it.
A study published in 2008 showed that watching a football match more than doubles the risk of having an acute cardiovascular event (that’s a heart attack to you and me). The study showed that during the 2006 World Cup the number of emergency patients with heart problems more than doubled when Germany were playing in World Cup matches (43) compared to days when they weren’t playing (18).
A second study looked at saliva samples taken from 58 Spanish soccer fans during the World Cup in 2010. The study showed increased levels of cortisol in the samples, which were even higher in those who identified more strongly with being a football fan.
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced when we are under stress. It causes our heart rate and blood pressure to increase and our blood vessels narrow. High levels of cortisol over a long period of time can cause depression, weight gain and anxiety.
Even worse, cortisol can actually decrease your sex drive. You see, they don’t even want you to have any fun when you are alive.
If that’s not enough proof, how about this. An experiment carried out on Premier League football fans showed that an average fan’s heart rate increased to almost 150% of its normal rate when their team conceded a goal but increased to 215% when their team scored.
The final nail in the coffin is a study that showed that (American) football fans ate around 16% more saturated fat when their football team lost a game. Saturated fats are known to increase the cholesterol in your blood and increase your chances of developing heart disease.
But, don’t worry…there is a way you can fight back. Follow these 3 simple strategies and you’ll get through the next season in one piece.
Regular exercise is proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, control your weight and improve your mental health. Just 75 minutes a week can extend your life by almost 2 years.
Exercise is a great stress reducer as well as it decreases the cortisol in our body and increases the production of feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which improve our mood and also reduces physical pain.
Any type of moderate exercise helps, from walking the dog to having a kickabout in the park.
If it’s good enough for Sam Allardyce, it’s good enough for you.
“Big” Sam has been practising transcendental meditation for over 12 years to cope with the stress of being a football manager. He told the Guardian newspaper;
“…it’s easy to carry out. Fifteen minutes, half an hour – you don’t have to be going into a quiet room with music on or anything like that. You can be anywhere at any time, as long as you find a relatively quiet place…It refreshes you and makes you feel good to push on.”
An easy meditation technique to start with is simply to sit quietly with your eyes closed, taking your full attention to your breathing for a couple of minutes. Focus on the sensation of every breath and let any thoughts that you have gently flow through.
The biggest cause of stress to a football fan is focusing on the negatives; the losses, the injuries, getting knocked out the FA cup again…
Having an attitude of gratitude helps to put all of that into perspective. Spend a couple of minutes at the end of every day focusing on the things you are grateful for…family friends, an act of kindness…and you can go to bed happier, healthier and less stressed.
Practising all three of these strategies will help you to feel less stressed, more resilient and less likely to keel over in the face of another drubbing by Stoke.