Sports play a huge part in British life – whether playing sports or watching sports. It has a unique and powerful ability to bring people together, create a sense of community – and ignite passion and excitement like nothing else. While we all know about the physical and mental benefits of taking part in sports, there’s also growing evidence that watching sports can also have a positive effect on your mental health. Whether you’re an avid supporter of your local team or love your weekly fix of the Premier League, here are several ways in which watching sports can be great for your mental health.
There is no doubt that life can be stressful, so finding healthy ways to unwind and relax is absolutely vital for your mental health. For many, watching sports can give them a well-needed break from the pressures of their own daily life.
When you’re emotionally immersed in a game or match, your mind purely focuses on the action on the pitch – taking your attention away from the stresses and worries that you might otherwise be thinking about. What’s more, the adrenaline rush you get during exciting moments can release endorphins – natural mood-boosting chemicals that alleviate stress and anxiety.
Photo by Kyle DeSantis
If you are a fan of a local team, especially, then it can give you a sense of community and belonging. Whether you’re watching the match at a stadium or a sports bar – or simply talking with friends and family about the game, there’s a shared experience that can help create a bond with those who share your passion, which can help to combat any feelings of loneliness and isolation you may have.
As any real sports fan knows, supporting a team can evoke a massive range of emotions, from exaltation to despair. Being able to express your emotions in a safe and controlled environment can be very therapeutic. What’s more, celebrating a win or sharing the agony of a defeat with others can be cathartic – allowing you to release pent-up emotions, reduce emotional tension, and improve your overall emotional resilience.
Distraction from Negative Thoughts
Taking your mind off things can be vital for your mental health – and when you’re absorbed in watching a game, it’s pretty hard to also think about any negative thoughts or ruminate over your day-to-day problems. This distraction can be a great coping mechanism – especially if you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Watching sports can provide you with an escape, albeit temporary, that can give you a mental respite from daily struggles.
Enhanced Mental Resilience
Watching sports can teach us valuable lessons in resilience and perseverance. There’s nothing more inspiring than watching athletes overcome challenges, setbacks, and adversity – and this can inspire you to tackle your own issues and obstacles with a more determined mindset.
There are certainly emotional highs and lows when watching sports – which can mimic life itself, with all its ups and downs. Cheering on your team and experiencing moments of triumph when they manage to win can give you a sense of joy and happiness like no other.
Photo by Gustavo Ferreira
Many of us consider ourselves armchair experts – and sports can often involve strategies, tactics, and decision-making processes. If you not only watch the game but also engage with these aspects of the game, it can be great for your mental faculties. Attempting to analyze play, predict outcomes, and discuss strategies with others can be intellectually stimulating and keep your brain engaged and active.
Encourages Physical Activity
Watching others play sports can be a real source of motivation for physical activity. For example, watching the English Lionesses with their recent successes has encouraged more girls and women to take up football.
Watching athletes in peak physical condition can encourage you to take better care of your own health and well-being. Physical health and mental health are intertwined – and if you can improve both, it’s a double winner.
It’s fair to say that watching sports can be much more than just a form of entertainment – it can help you with your mental health and overall well-being. So, the next time you sit back and watch a game, remember – you’re not just enjoying it, but you’re also improving your mental health!
Photo by Tech Daily