Can cheering on your favorite team lower your stress?

My #WooHooWednesday for this week celebrates the Wisconsin Badger Volleyball team’s trip to the NCAA Final Four semi-final game tomorrow! My husband and I have enjoyed cheering on the Badgers this year, in-person and on television.

Yes, it’s been a blast – but it is one of my most effective stress management tools too.

As I write about in chapter 13 of Stress-Proof Your Life, activities that combine several stress reduction strategies are high-potency activities. Here is how watching your favorite team can reduce stress:

It’s Highly-Engaging Activity: Fast-moving sports can occupy your full attention. If you find yourself completely engrossed in the game, your brain gets a break from the causes of stress in your environment. You can’t think about what is coming into your email inbox if you are watching to see if your team will prevail on this point.

It can raise your heart rate: If you are a loud and proud fan who is likely to stand up and cheer on your team (even if you are in your living room – yes, I’m talking about me here), you are raising your heart rate. Raising your heart rate and then letting it come down again signals your body to process out the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is released when our stress reaction is triggered and is meant to come down when the trigger has passed. Too often, however, our stress is caused by uncertainty or other triggers that don’t pass quickly. Raising your heart rate and letting it fall back to normal helps your body get rid of the cortisol. So, jump up and down, sing along with the band, cheer on your favorite player – it’s all good for reducing stress.

It makes you part of something bigger: There is nothing quite like thousands of voices joined together in celebration. Being one of many fans – and that knowing nod of recognition when wearing your gear – creates a sense of belonging and a focus outside of yourself.

Of course, all of these tips work better when your team is winning! But even if the Badgers don’t end up as NCAA Champions (but I really hope they do) it’s been a fantastic season watching incredible athletes who are also high-quality humans.


Go Badgers

I wish you low stress and great success!


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