The winter and spring are fraught months for those of us who build our lives around sports. The World Cup wrapped right before Christmas. The college football andcome next on the sports calendar. The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are just around the corner, as are spring playoffs in and basketball. There are lots of sports to watch and, if we want, to freak out about—also known as experiencing fan anxiety, or “fanxiety” for short.
This is the best time of the sporting year. But it is also a brutally stressful time on the schedule, packed with spiking heart rates, sweaty palms, and existential dread that the puck will bounce the wrong way in overtime or a field goal will clank off the upright and end a team’s season in misery.
Sadness is going to come. That’s part of the contract we all sign when we agree to. But sometimes, devastation really hits hard, and stress over sporting events becomes a genuine setback in our day-to-day lives. Nobody wants that. Fortunately, we don’t have to let it happen.
Here are six tips to help you let go of fanxiety and focus on the more joyful side of fandom, with commentary from a sport psychologist on how to reframe your thinking. (Disclosure: I have personally ignored all six of these tips at different times in my fandom. I will do my best to follow them in the future.)
Fanxiety: Expert Tips for Dealing With Sports-Related Stress
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