NEW ORLEANS -- Even under "normal" circumstances, watching the New Orleans Saints play football can be a little stressful, to say the least.
Bad calls, injured players, line-up changes, penalties... the list goes on.
Research has shown that while watching sports, the heart rate can increase and blood pressure can rise which could potentially cause so much stress on the body that dangerous conditions like heart attack and stroke could develop.
What's a Saints fan to do?
Take a deep breath, and keep it all in perspective.
It's important to note that many people do not experience any significant health problems during or after watching a sports match. For those who will scoff when we say "it's just a game," here are some helpful ways you can de-stress during those crucial third downs (and second downs, and first downs.)
1. Pre-game Rituals
Having a pre-game ritual allows you to focus on the positive aspects of the game. The body is moving. The stress level stays low. It allows joy in preparation for a great game. That way we're not stressing over win or loss.
2. Listen to your body
Pay attention to your heart rate and pace of breath. If the heart rate or breath quickens, that's stress. The body doesn't know the difference between "good" and "bad" stress. It doesn't know you're watching a sports game. So pay attention, and remember to breathe fully and slowly. Step away during commercials or time-outs and clear the mind. Refocus on the positive aspects of the game. You're surrounded by family and friends. There's plenty of food and drink to enjoy. Life is good.
3. Stay hydrated
If you're drinking alcohol during game day, remember to stay hydrated. Alternate between water and alcohol throughout your pre-game festivities and even during the game. Use commercial breaks to get up and walk around, keeping the body active. When our body stays active, it helps remove toxins and urges the body to replenish itself with more water. It will also help you stretch out the amount of alcohol you imbibe throughout the day.
4. Shout it out
Shout your Who Dat! Let it out. Get the crowd involved. Cheering together unites us as fans and helps us feel grounded. It's also a way to expel some of that energy and release it from the body, allowing us to refocus on the positive aspects of the game.
Inhale for four counts. Exhale for four counts. Repeat. Do this as often and as many times as needed.
Overall, stay positive. Even if the game intensifies, being together with friends and showing support for the team brings about positive energy that we can pass on to the players. Because that's what it's all about. Supporting the Saints, win or lose.