Swearing at the telly is good for you
Does your living room transform into a Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown stage show as soon as you switch on the match? Worry not: turning the air blue is healthy, according to Richard Stephens of Keele University’s School of Psychology. “Swearing seems to activate deeper parts of the brain that are more associated with emotions,” he says. “It helps us react to pressure situations.” In other words, a good old foul-mouthed tirade might stop our heads from exploding with rage.
A problem shared is a problem halved
The modern way of ranting – via social media, IN ALL CAPS – can also offer short-term benefits. According to psychology professor Jeffrey Lohr of the University of Arkansas, venting can curb bad feelings. But controlling yourself online is preferable. “What people fail to realise is that the anger would have dissipated more quickly had they not vented,” he says.
How to remain calm during a shootout
You don’t need telling, but penalty shootouts are stressful: a joint study by the Universities of Birmingham and Bristol found that heart attacks increased 25 per cent during big games. One of the study’s co-authors, Professor Douglas Carroll, recommends that people watch games in small groups to avoid a “contagion of excitement” and that they “try to moderate consumption of alcohol”. Sports psychologist Dr William Wiener adds that perspective is key to coping: “Accept that there will be injustice and realise that losing your cool doesn’t do any good at all.”
Immerse yourself in the music
“These are the best teams… the chaaaampiiiioooons!” The Champions League theme, with its daft lyrics set to a modern arrangement of Handel’s Zadok the Priest, can actually get the serotonin flooding through your brain, so pump it up. “The music is loud, which wakes up your brain and gets a response,” says Alex Lamont, Music Psychology lecturer at Keele. “It’s celebratory, rich in texture and has a high melody, all of which is mentally rousing. And because we’ve heard it before and associate it with exciting football matches, our brain automatically raises the anticipation and intensity of what we feel.” Wave a table cloth in the centre of your living room with a mate for added effect.
Go light on the beer
Don’t spoil your good work with a crate of Stella. Miller 64 light beer is almost guilt-free at 2.8% and 64 calories per bottle, Sam Adams Light is the super little brother of the famous Boston brew, and Coors Light – Jean-Claude Van Damme’s favourite – is refreshing and, at 4.2%, doesn’t feel too virtuous.
Ditch the crisps and go for low-fat tortillas, vegetable crisps (you can make these from parsnips) or Ryvita with guacamole, hummus and tahini. “These dips are great because they’re full of protein and natural fats,” says England chef Tim De’Ath. “Most footballers snack on protein over carbs these days. Using lower-fat options over crisps is a wise choice, because you can eat as much as you like."
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