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How the Super Bowl Impacts Your Mental Health

As the Super Bowl approaches, Oklahomans are firing up the crockpots for parties and tailgates. The game, the commercials, the halftime show — it’s the best night of the year for many football fans. With all of the emotions and stress the game brings, your mental health isn’t immune to getting in on the action too. 

Research suggests that being part of a sports fandom can lead to increased feelings of happiness, lessened stress levels, and reduced loneliness. But what if your team doesn’t take home the trophy? Let’s talk a little bit about the positives and negatives of the Super Bowl on your mental health. 
If you’re struggling with your mental health or thinking of suicide, the 988 Mental Health Lifeline is available 24/7. Call or text 988 for free, confidential help.

The Positives

Sense of Community

Community is critical to positive mental health, and the Super Bowl has a unique way of bringing people together like no other event. Whether you’re huddled around the TV at a friend’s place, cheering at a local bar, or joining the neighborhood tailgate, being with other people on game day combats feelings of loneliness and provides purpose.

Mental Health Motivator

Whether you’re there for the game or just the snacks, both sports fans and non-sports fans alike look forward to Super Bowl festivities. Having something exciting to look forward to like the big game is incredibly beneficial for your mental health, as it gives you something to keep going for and makes it easier to think optimistically.

Positive Distraction

If you’re entering the big game feeling like you just got sacked, the Super Bowl can serve as a diversion and distraction from life’s challenges and negative emotions. For a few hours, you can immerse yourself in the game and give your mind a break from real world worries. Plus, having a great time with friends and family releases happy hormones, which boosts your mood.

The Negatives

High Stress Environment

For big time fans, the Super Bowl can be an incredibly stressful night, especially if your team doesn’t come out on top. Your heart rate can increase, stress-inducing cortisol levels can rise, and blood pressure can heighten. If your team doesn’t take home the Lombardi trophy, it can also lead to painful post game blues.

Pressure to Socialize

While the Super Bowl is all about gathering with friends and family, the pressure to socialize can be overwhelming for some. The expectation to attend parties or engage in large social gatherings might create stress or anxiety, especially for those who prefer a quieter, more intimate setting or are struggling with their mental health. 

Easy Access to Substances

With the party atmosphere of the Super Bowl often comes an increase in alcohol and drug consumption. While enjoying a beer or cocktail responsibly is perfectly fine if you’re of legal age, excessive drinking or drug use can have detrimental effects on mental health, leading to regret, anxiety, reckless decisions, or depressive thoughts. 

Gambling Risks

Sports betting has been on the rise across America over the last few years. Cautious gambling can be fun, but with easier access to sports betting apps, it can be easy to get carried away if you’re not careful. If things don’t go as planned, it can lead to financial strain, heightened stress levels, or worst case, increased depression or suicide risk.

How to Have a Mentally Healthy Game Day

Set Realistic Expectations

Not every Super Bowl needs to be a blockbuster event. Set yourself up for mental health success before kickoff by setting realistic expectations for yourself. Outline the level of social engagement that feels comfortable, make plans if you plan to drink, and prepare yourself for the possibility that your team might not win.

Be Mindful of Risky Behaviors

If you choose to engage in friendly wagers or a round of beers, do so responsibly. Set limits, be aware of potential risks, and prioritize the enjoyment of the game over financial gains or a good buzz. Be aware of your limits so your celebration doesn’t compromise your wellbeing.

Connect with Others

Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or just there for the commercials, use the Super Bowl as an opportunity to connect with others. Share in the excitement, and take time to make sure you and the people around you are having a good time. You never know when one conversation could be exactly what someone needs.

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