NHL Playoff Pressure – Not Just For The Players

The following is a post written by Dr. David Greenberg of St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto. Dr. Greenberg is providing tips for fans on how to deal with stress while watching their team during the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs as part of StubHub’s #FansWithHeart campaign. You can follow @StubHubCA on twitter for a chance to win a StubHub branded heart rate monitor. 

This year’s NHL playoffs have been a little out of the ordinary for Canadian hockey fans. After 2016, when no Canadian teams managed to qualify for the post-season, this is the first year since 2004 when as many as five Canadian teams made the playoffs. However, while this could (and should) be seen as a source of celebration for the hometown fans, it also provides for a great deal of stress while watching the games, and ultimately disappointment for the fans of all but the one team that takes home Lord Stanley’s Cup.

As we move through the second round, three Canadian teams have already been eliminated, and research commissioned by StubHub confirms that the effects on Canadian hockey fans may have been greater than one might imagine. Thirty-three per cent of Canadians surveyed said that they found just watching the Playoffs stressful, almost as stressful as paying their mortgage for teams in a game seven, and 25% suffered from “Post Elimination Blues”. So, since you’re not going to want to miss a minute of playoff action, how can you help to manage the stress associated with watching and/or deal with the premature end of your team’s season?

Here are a few tips that will keep you healthy and help you to cope:

Exercise is Key

It’s a fact that exercise, in addition to all the other benefits it confers (i.e. burning off the wings and beer), is among the best strategies for managing stress. If you’ve already got a well-established routine try your best to stick with it. If you’ve been thinking about starting, now’s a perfect time. Current recommendations are 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, that would be walking at a pace that would be as if you were trying to catch a bus.  Go for a walk in-between periods or before/after the game with a fellow fan and you can vent and get your fitness in at the same time. 

Sleep is Important

It’s not a huge problem in the first couple of rounds for fans of local teams, and even overtime games that start at 7pm end at a reasonable hour. However, what if you are an Oilers fan who lives in Toronto? Games that don’t even start until after 10pm local time can really take their toll. The problem for most people is that they have a “Hard Start” to their day, that is a time they have to get up to go to work, regardless of what time they get to sleep. Be aware of it when planning the day after a game, and perhaps try to catch up on some sleep on the off nights.

Watch Your Alcohol Intake

I’d be more than happy to have a beer with you watching a game so this isn’t about me being an anchor. However, between 15-20% of the people surveyed said they drink more during the playoffs. Remember that Canadian Safe Drinking Guidelines recommend no more than three drinks for men or two drinks for women in any one sitting. It will also impact your sleep, not to mention the next morning, and for those of you that worry about this, it’s a lot of calories when you can’t burn them off. A good strategy to pace yourself and prevent feeling lousy in the morning is to drink a pint glass of ice water between drinks. It will fill you up, and keep you well hydrated.

I recognize how hard some of these things are to do, and I’m not naïve enough to think that thousands of Canadian hockey fans are going to start adopting a healthier lifestyle in the middle of the playoffs. But please give it some thought, and, anything you can do to adopt any parts of these changes will help. In the meantime, be thankful for the opportunity to watch your team and, win or lose, enjoy every minute of the best hockey of the year.

Yours in Good Health,

Dr. Dave

About Dr. David Greenberg:

Dr. David Greenberg recently became the Medical Spokesperson for thebutterflycares.org an international organization which raises funds and awareness for brain injuries both physical (Concussion) and non-physical (PTSD) He is also the Chairman of the Board for the Dr. David Greenberg Hive Charitable Foundation. The Foundation distributes needed funds and works with other like-minded charities helping those affected by Brain Trauma.

Want to track your stress during the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Follow @StubHubCA on Twitter for a chance to receive a StubHub-branded heart rate monitor.  

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