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In the quest to live healthy, happy lives, many people focus on what they are including their diet, what kind of exercise plan is the most effective, and what bad habits they should avoid. While these are primary areas of focus, doctors are also advising that managing stress levels can play an important role in maintaining healthy behaviors. There are stressful situations that appear throughout the day for people of all backgrounds and ages, and there are times when stress levels are magnified because of what’s going on at the time.
The Body’s Response
Though the body is exposed to stress on a daily basis, the natural responses to these conditions can be either healthy or unhealthy. Chronic stress can take both a psychological and physical toll on the body. In addition to losing sleep and dealing with feelings of anxiety, the body can respond to prolonged stress with gastrointestinal problems, respiratory issues, cardiovascular irregularities, and even hair loss. While there are treatment options that can address balding, high blood pressure, and digestive discomfort, a better option for promoting your health is dealing with stress when it begins. According to the American Psychological Association, the earlier you start to experience stress, the more negatively your body will be affected by it later in life. For some sports enthusiasts, elevated stress levels begin when they develop an interest in March Madness.
Stress Management Strategies
During the month of March, millions of excited fans will watch collegiate teams compete for the coveted NCAA championship title. For some, the opportunity to come home after work and catch a good ballgame is enough excitement, while others tend to take the month and make the tournaments more personal. One popular but highly stressful pastime for those who take March Madness seriously is participating in performance pools and bracket predictions. Selecting your picks for wins and losses and putting cold hard cash into the mix can be thrilling and provide a rush of adrenaline when your predictions come true, but it can be highly stressful when your favored teams are underperforming. Even though it is just one month of madness, as they say, the effects of stress on the body could start to show up sooner than the championship game. Because of the danger of letting stress go unmanaged, consider the following tips to cultivate a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind during the tournament.
Take a Mental Reality Check
No matter how competitive you may be or how deeply loyal you are to your alma mater, the dozens of basketball games that will dictate your life for the next few weeks are still just games. Adopting the right mindset before you get caught up in the chaos of the month can help alleviate some of the stress and burden you put on yourself. You can’t control how the teams will respond to the competition, but you can control how you respond to the situation. This mental reality check can prepare you for the weeks ahead and help you keep the competition or expectations in check.
Limit Your Intake
Through you may be the first person to have your bracket filled out, obsessing over the stats, the scores, and the long-term predictions for the month can take a lot of your mental energy. Rather than worrying about each detail, narrow down how involved you are going to be with the office pool or with the watch parties for important games. If you know that you are easily overwhelmed, limiting how much you pay attention to what is going on around you can help prevent you from stress building-up over the course of the championship season.
Create Alternative Entertainment
It may seem that the entire country gets involved in March Madness, and if the basketball games are not your idea of entertainment, it can feel lonely or awkward hanging out with your normal social group. You may get stressed trying to think of excuses that can get you out of a night at the sports bar or trying to find ways to join in the office conversation when you missed the last game. Finding other forms of entertainment throughout the month can reduce some of this stress, and you are sure to find others who won’t want to spend the evening watching basketball. You don’t have to let your life revolved around the television listings and tip-off.
March Madness is a jam-packed month of basketball games, friendly banter, under-the-table betting, and overall good times. However, taking the tournament too seriously can create undue stress in your life. Don’t let stress claim the victory over your sanity and entertainment. Reduce your stress with these tips and enjoy March without the madness.
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