The first time a client came into my office, explaining that he was feeling depressed after his favorite hockey team had lost a championship game, I thought it was just a sarcastic exaggeration. But he was serious, and over the course of the hour he explained his feelings of loss, despair, anger, and his inability to focus on his work.The next day, still somewhat skeptical, I spoke with my clinical supervisor about the case, and she exclaimed, “I’m depressed too!” And she detailed similar feeling of loss, anger, sadness, and the inability for focus on her work.
It turns out that experiencing the blues after a sports-related defeat is a common experience for sports enthusiasts, and for some the symptoms can be shockingly painful.
Are you feeling down after a sports-related defeat? Here are 4 strategies for beating those blues.
1) Zoom Out
You’re a huge fan of your team. You don’t miss a game, and by memory alone you can recite their starting lineup for the last 5 years. However, your enthusiasm for the team isn’t the only thing in your life that you’re passionate about. Zooming out helps put things back into perspective, and helps you focus on other things in your life that you value.
To practice zooming out, list things in your life that aren’t related to the sports team, specifically things that are going well. For the moment, ignore any areas that are not going well (If you’re feeling depressed, you’ll have a tendency to focus on things that are not going well. Fight this!)
List things that bring you happiness. Examples: where you live, the season of the year, your favorite movie, your friends, your family, your health, your job, even OTHER sports teams that you’re crazy about (isn’t there a new season just getting started)?
As you ‘zoom out’ you’ll begin to see that the sports event is a relatively small part of your life’s big picture, and it shouldn’t have any power over how you feel.
2) Get Social
People who are feeling down or depressed have a tendency to isolate themselves. Also, if the sports season is over, you might be lacking that scheduled time to get together with friends to ‘hang out and watch the game’.
Social withdrawal only makes one’s mood worse. So make an effort to keep your social life strong, even if you don’t think you’re feeling up for it.
It will help!
3) Fill The Void
If you’re a die hard fan and the season is over, you’re going to notice the post-season emptiness. Fill the mental and emotional space that you were giving to your team with something else.
Find something else you’ll enjoy; some project, hobby, or event to get involved in.
- Plan a ski trip.
- Join a dart league.
- Start watching another sport – It doesn’t matter. Just do something!
4) Talk it Out
Talking about your sports-fan blues with a friend will help you to process the disappointment that you’re feeling. If your friend is also a fan, perhaps he/she is having some of the same feelings. It can help just to know that people care (and they do) and to be reminded that you’re not alone.
The good news about sports-related blues / depression is that it has a short ‘half life’. In most cases, it only lasts a few days (for many, symptoms are not severe enough, or last long enough to be technically considered a true depressive disorder). However, if it’s been a few days and you haven’t feeling any better, or if your symptoms are so severe that they’re effecting your sleep, work, or relationships, consider finding professional counseling help.