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FIFA World Cup 2022: Don’t lose your head
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FIFA World Cup 2022: Don’t lose your head

From taking a power nap ahead of the match to journaling one’s feelings, experts list out ways to keep overwhelming emotions in check while watching such intense matches
A irritated person watching FIFA
Representational image | Shutterstock

Prashant Badaal, a software engineer from Bengaluru, recalls watching the quarterfinal match between France and England. “I was extremely nervous watching the quarterfinal between France and England. It was only when Olivier Giroud scored the second goal that I was at ease.”

However, his happiness was short-lived as he watched Harry Kane get an opportunity to score the penalty for England. “Which to my relief he missed.” He was overwhelmed when the final whistle was blown. “I was glad that France made it through to the semi-finals. Watching that match was quite an emotional roller coaster, which luckily had a happy ending for my favourite team France,” he says.

Badaal’s wife Sirisha tells Happiest Health about the intense emotions that can be sensed in the house when such matches are on. “He is so emotionally invested while watching these matches. He is as invested as the players,” laughs Sirisha.

Such scenes are common in regular football-loving households. Emotions sure run high among lovers of the game, especially during World Cup. A peek online or even on social media is a testament to such emotions. Executive coach Sridhar Laxman from Lucid Minds Coaching that trains executives explains: “Watching a game can elicit a range of different emotions, some positive, some negative. One’s physiological and emotional state will likely be affected by one’s involvement in the game and the intensity of one’s emotions.”

On being liberal or stingy when it comes to expressing emotions

Emotions during matches are spontaneous not forced. Yet, one might wonder if there is anything like displaying too much emotion. Health psychologist Pooja Naik from Bengaluru suggests looking at emotional markers to understand how much is too much. “We cannot really quantify it. Everybody perceives events and situations differently. If they’re able to detach themselves from what they’re watching and can function properly, it comes within the purview of healthy practice,” says Naik. If one is not able to get back to a calm state post releasing intense emotions and has trouble functioning, then it is a sign of things not being under control. “Remember that letting out too much emotion means not being in control.”

What to keep in mind

Laxman adds that repeatedly experiencing unpleasant emotions can also be detrimental to one’s health. “It can affect one’s professional performance and also relationships. Hence one needs to be mindful of this when watching these games,” says the Bengaluru-based transformational coach who is also the founder of Lucid Minds Coaching.

People going through emotional issues or struggling with anxiety might find those emotions coming to the surface while watching such intense matches in a group, says Naik. “But this anxiety and emotional state is only short-lived and doesn’t really have any worrying consequences,” she says. “Knowing how to separate the anxiety one feels while watching a certain match from what one feels on a regular basis is key — an understanding that it is just a game and winning and losing are a part of it. Learning to disconnect and not internalise the match is important,” she wraps.

As D-Day approaches, Sridhar Laxman shares a few practices to help one stay calm and relaxed when watching such intense matches

Before the game

  • A power nap: refreshes and frees up the mind from the challenges of the day
  • Light exercise /stretching: we are likely to be seated for a while; some prior movement can prevent stiffness in the body
  • Watch or read something that is funny or inspiring: a game can be thrilling, exciting and equally disappointing; get into the game feeling light and cheerful to cope with the rush of emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant
  • A few minutes of deep breathing: this helps one calm down and become mindful and relaxed
  • Avoid arguments on social media: everyone is entitled to their opinions, which never determine the outcome

 During the game

  • Get up and stretch every 20 minutes or so: keep body pain at bay
  • Hydrate and snack to avoid a dry mouth and hunger pangs
  • Speak with and text one’s partner and/or friend: expressing one’s thoughts and feelings during the game can prevent mood swings later

After the game

  • Call someone: share the joy or disappointment; talk it out
  • Practice a few deep breaths: let go of the disappointment, the heaviness of a loss
  • Go for a short walk: limber up, get the blood flowing, and help your muscles relax
  • Have a hot shower: it can be therapeutic and relaxing
  • Journal one’s feelings: do not let them fester inside
  • Avoid arguments on social media so one does not regret them later
  • Get more sleep than usual: a well-rested body can help the mind
  • Take time off: get a massage or physiotherapy if one notices continued physical discomfort or pain, and maybe meet a doctor
  • Reach out to a counsellor or therapist if one notices prolonged emotional distress, inability to function or mood swings

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