With every March Madness bracket across America officially busted, only a few college teams remain standing. This weekend, these lucky schools and their respective students and alumni will fill our social news feeds with watch party selfies and pictures of mascot emoticons.
Suffice it to say, I will not be attending any of their parties.
My favorite team, the Kansas Jayhawks, was knocked out during the second round. My runner-up team? The WSU Shockers, who were rejected during the Sweet 16. And while I rationally know that getting a little orange ball in a 10-foot high net is not a life-or-death event, I remain depressed.
Whether you are a dejected fan of titans Villanova and North Carolina, or cinderella stories Georgia State or UAB, it is really hard to tackle your long to-do list when you keep wondering how your team blew an early 8-point lead in the half. I tell my co-workers I am under the weather, but in reality, my March Madness funk actually has a name. It is called "sports fan depression"
And it turns out being out of sorts after your favorite loses is not in our heads; sports fan depression is a real thing, according to Anthony Centore PhD and Founder of counseling company Thriveworks "Experiencing the blues after a sports-related defeat is a common experience...and for some, the symptoms can be shockingly painful," he said.
Leading social psychologist Robert Cialdini notes that "winning and losing teams influence the morale of a region, a city, or a college campus. A substantial segment of the community may actually have clinical features of depression when their team loses. People become 'blue' for several days, disoriented, and non-productive; whereas if they win, they are pumped-up and active. In many cities, an atmosphere of depression and failure prevails after the loss of a significant game. The fans were counting on their team to deliver a victory to make their day. And instead, they feel personally let down."
So while I feel better understanding the reason why I want to spontaneously hurl my shoe at the TV every time Charles Barkley mentions my losing team's name, it still isn't particularly helpful.
Here are three proven, backed-by-science ideas that can help us all get back to work by getting out of our losing-the-big-dance funk.
Plug in your earphones and just try to stay in your bad mood while listening to Mark Ronson's and Bruno Mars's "Uptown Funk." According to the American Psychological Association, there is a scientific link between music and helping ease pain of a stinging loss. Live music, in particular, can be helpful. Anything that helps you get your mind off the game can be a mind-improving antidote--be it a Gillian Flynn novel or a Walking Dead marathon. Unplugging for a few hours can get your mind off all those unnecessary turnovers and missed free throws.
Throw a pity party and invite only those people who will abide by the following rules: 1.) Agree with everything you say 2.) Give advice only when asked 3.) repeat (This technique also works when sounding off to your spouse--an added bonus). If you cannot find anyone who will attend your funk-bashing shindig, call up your local sports talk radio and sound off. You will find an entirely new legion of fans who are more than willing to commiserate with you.
Sweat it out
When you are in a bad mood, the last thing that may sound appealing is exercising, but doing so can release feel-good brain chemicals that can kick your funk to the proverbial curb. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise has been proven to ease symptoms of anxiety or depression. If nothing else, consider a boxing class and then visualize your opponent's mascot permanently affixed to your punching bag.
As March heads into April, our feelings of being dejected are usually temporary. For many of us, we are not depressed as much as we are experiencing a depressing situation. There's always next year. In the meantime, try to find the humor in the tournament frenzy. And when it comes to the insanity that is March Madness, there is A LOT of material.
Cartoon created by Chuck Ingwersen