Planning to stay home from work the day after the Super Bowl? You’re not alone. An estimated 17.2 million people plan to skip work on Monday because of “Super Bowl Fever,” according to a survey from the Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated.
While an estimated 8 million workers report they asked for the day off ahead of time, about 4.7 million plan to call in “sick.”
It’s not just about recovering from celebrating: About 45 percent of 18- to 34-year-old employees say they’re more likely to have anxiety about going back to work the Monday after the Super Bowl than any other Monday during the year.
If you’re feeling a little down or off after the Super Bowl is over, just know that it’s normal.
Mental hangovers are a very real issue after the Super Bowl ends, Thea Gallagher, clinic director at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perlman School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. That’s clear from looking at social media:
Many people get mentally invested in the Super Bowl, whether your team is playing in the game or not, Gallagher says. “If your team is in the Super Bowl, that can be a culmination of many years of watching and cheering for them,” she says. “But even if you don’t have a team in the Super Bowl, it’s still a holiday. You get mentally invested in plans and hanging out with friends and family.” When it’s over, it can feel like a mental crash — especially since, for some, it can seem like there’s not much else to look forward to sports-wise until the spring.
Watching football on Sundays is also something that a lot of people get into in the fall and winter when the weather turns colder and people are stuck indoors, notes Gallagher. “You gather together with friends and family to watch the game, and when that season is over, you have to be more intentional about hanging out with the people in your life,” she says.
There’s also neuroscience at play, clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, author of Hack Your Anxiety, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “When we pay close attention to anything, including sports, our brain interprets the experience of another person like it were happening to us,” Clark says, adding that it’s almost like you’re playing the game when you’re watching it closely.
“The more we pay attention, the more involved we get, and the more real it becomes,” she says. “When it comes to a championship game like the Super Bowl, the stakes are higher, the playing more intense and thus the emotion heightened.” That mental investment can make people feel stress and anxiety on some level, Clark says.
There are a few things you can do to bounce back.
For starters, it’s important to be aware that this feeling of loss can happen and is normal. “With all the drama of the buildup, we feel let down when it is over,” Clark says. “Especially for a championship game that ends a season, the ending — no matter what the outcome — brings a loss. Simply knowing and naming what you are feeling can help you feel a sense of control over your experience and thus better cope.”
If you’re a Rams fan, it’s OK to feel angry or hurt about the loss. “People tend to think it’s stupid that they feel sad about these things, but it’s normal when a team that you’ve invested a lot in loses,” Gallagher says. She recommends looking at it as part of an overall journey of being a fan and starting to think about the possibilities that can happen next year.
If you feel bummed about not having go-to plans for this upcoming Sunday (or Sundays for the foreseeable future), Gallagher recommends organizing a Sunday dinner or game night to have another reason to gather your family and friends together.
You can also start thinking about productive things you can do during the time you spent watching football in the past. “Are there enjoyable things you have been putting off that you could earmark to do afterward?” Clark says. If so, do them. Even going to the gym or doing an at-home workout during that time can get your endorphins flowing and make you feel better, she says.
If all else fails, remember that it’s ultimately just a game and it’s there for your entertainment. “This is supposed to be fun,” Clark says.
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