Three Tips to Reduce Stress during the World Cup and beyond

Alastair Davidson

Alastair DavidsonContent Specialist, Firstbeat

Stress & Recovery

Nervous fans watching soccer

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is up and running and excitement levels are understandably high for millions of people across the world. Any football fan will know, though, that alongside the joy and euphoria are the almost inevitable feelings of stress that accompany following your country on the biggest stage.

With the results out of their hands, fans are left to cross their fingers in the hope their team can perform. That could lead to some unwanted feelings of distress if things don’t go as planned.

So, with tension sure to rise as kick off approaches (not to mention when the dreaded penalty shootouts arrive), we’ve put together three tips to combat stress during the World Cup that can also be put to use in the office.

1) Cut back on unhealthy habits

Watching sport in the pub is something of a tradition for many. It is a good chance to share a common interest with the people around you and can provide a good atmosphere if all is going well. But, if things take a turn for the worse and another goal goes in against your team the best advice may be to reach for a glass of water rather than another beer to drown your sorrows.

It may feel like drinking alcohol relaxes you but, because it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, it actually increases stress rather than reducing it. The same can be said for other habits such as smoking or excessive coffee drinking, which contain the stimulants nicotine and caffeine, respectively.

In the workplace:

Having a drink at the end of a long day is a tactic often used by those looking to unwind before bed. But research has shown that even one glass of wine in the evening can have a negative impact on sleep quality. With overnight recovery so important when it comes to feeling refreshed for the day ahead, cutting out late-night alcohol can help make sure you start the next day on the right foot.

2) Take a leaf out of the players’ book

Getting active is an effective way to reduce stress. Rather than sitting back and watching the players get their heart rate up in Russia, taking a leaf out of their book and incorporating physical exercise into your routine can help in a number of ways.

In terms of well-being, going out for a jog or even a brisk walk gives you time to clear your mind and alleviate feelings of pressure and stress. And it has real physiological benefits too as exercise is proven to boost the production of endorphins (the ‘feel good’ hormone).

In the workplace:

Physical inactivity is a problem in the workplace with recent studies showing employees can spend on average 7.5 hours per day sitting down. Introducing exercise to your daily routine is a way to combat this and reduce stress at the same time. Even hopping off public transport a few stops sooner than usual and walking into the office can play its part.

3) Accept there are things you can’t change

For football fans, watching your country play can be a frustrating experience because, ultimately, what happens on the pitch is completely out of your hands.

Accepting this is important when trying to contextualize what is causing a spike in stress. If things aren’t going 100-percent to plan, it is important to focus on what you can do to change the situation and accept there will be some elements that you have no control over.

In the workplace:

Looking at a huge to do list and seeing multiple deadlines staring back can be a daunting prospect. Taking a deep breath and taking one thing at a time – homing in on quick wins you can influence – can help take away some of the burdens that may be causing excess stress. Put things into perspective and giving yourself achievable goals to focus on.

Stress can be good

There are times when stress can be beneficial in small doses. Eustress describes the positive form of stress that can increase motivation, encourage you to perform and actually have a positive impact on well-being. As our new guide ‘Understanding your client’s Stress-Recovery Balance’ describes:

“People’s experience of their own stress is often purely negative, and they usually feel that stress is something that makes their life more difficult. However, life without stress would be very boring indeed, as without stress there is no enthusiasm, mobility or motivation. In suitable doses, stress is good for you, keeping the body functional and the mind alert.”

Here’s hoping the next few weeks are stress-free as your team goes all the way in Russia. But, for more information about stress and recovery, you can download our free guide here.

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Alastair Davidson

Alastair Davidson Content Specialist, Firstbeat

Alastair is a Content Specialist who has previously worked in sports journalism and tech communication. These experiences now help him create unique content about Firstbeat's role in sports and wellness in the form of blogs and case studies. An avid sports fans, Alastair continues to play football in his native U.K., and enjoys keeping up with the latest wellness trends.

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