Stress and Football

Stress in the world of football goes hand in hand. Let’s make no mistake. Last nights game got even the non-footie fans sitting on the edge of their seat; that included me.  A fantastic game, and England doing our country proud.  They reached the final and gave Italy a good run for their money!  However, I was reflecting on the stress and tension that would have been inevitable before, during and after such a big game.

I could feel their emotion – especially Rashford, Sancho and Saka shooting the penalties.  Seeing not just their dream of holding the Euro 2020 Cup but dashing the hopes of their team and fans.  For such young men, how would anyone feel in their ‘boots’ is a lot to deal with.  The stress encountered in the world of football is more than perhaps you might imagine.  The tension of yesterdays game and the swirl of emotions from the mental replay is inevitably going to go on will impact their physical, mental and emotional well-being over time.

Exacerbated by the thoughtless, heartless individuals posting abusive comments on social media will only add to their stress.

“Christian Eriksen TV Coverage sparks BBC apology after views left horrified” …. We explore the wider impact of televised trauma and the link between media coverage and PTSD.

After fifteen months of restrictions and a delayed start, thanks to COVID-19, the opening matches of the Euro 2020 tournament were hotly awaited by football fans the world over.

The stadiums may not have been full, but that didn’t stop armchairs and pub benches brimming over with people desperate to see a glimpse of normality. Many of these eager fans and supporters settled down to watch Denmark play Sweden on the second day of the tournament, exited and full of anticipation. However, the scenes that unfolded in the 43rd minute of the match at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium will leave an impression many would sooner forget.

“Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact on our daily lives.” DR PAM RAMSDEN

Stress on the football field

Erikson collapses and leaves the crowd stunned and shocked

 Christian Eriksen, the Danish midfielder, dropped to the floor, leaving players from both sides in visible distress. Team-mates formed a shield, as it quickly became apparent Eriksen had a cardiac arrest. Fans were pictured around the stadium, stunned by the incident and visibly shaken – their distraught faces beamed around the world to spectators who sat in confusion, the joy of normality after a year plagued by death and sadness fast evaporating.

“Collective trauma refers to a traumatic event that is shared by a group of people. It may involve a small group, like a family, or it may involve an entire society.” VERY WELL MIND

 Although the risks of cardiac arrests to high performing athletes are known and reported, very few of the watching millions would have experienced viewing such a trauma first hand. However, thanks to live television and the subsequent coverage on social media, the exposure to someone else’s suffering was widely shared and will continue to be absorbed by many.

It is important that we openly acknowledge how the images made us feel, embrace and discuss them, and understand the traumatic images we all experienced together.

“Watching disturbing news footage on television may exacerbate post-traumatic stress and nightmares” NEW SCIENTIST.

While it has long been recognised that the effects of being exposed to someone else’s suffering are traumatic to front line workers, only recently are professionals beginning to understand how watching the tragedy unfold on television, and social media can impact viewers. In some cases, it can even be more psychologically damaging. Events such as 9/11, school shootings and riots can unfold to millions who may be distanced by miles, but not by the devastating impact that watching these events can have. Researchers have reported that by connecting with these violent events in an unintended way, some people will even experience PTSD symptoms.

“PTSD is a disorder diagnosed after one month of symptoms that can include severe depression, withdrawal, sadness and numbness as well as anxiety, panic, and the inability to focus.” ABC News

But how likely is PTSD to the wider audience? How close does someone have to be to the tragedy to be at risk? Some experts will say it is too early to understand the full extent of televised trauma. Still, the evidence is increasingly suggesting that even just hearing about a traumatic event can be damaging. Watching events unfold live on television and being subjected to repeated coverage will increase the chances of vicarious traumatisation, which in turn will increase the chances of anxiety, depression and chronic stress. If you already have PTSD, being subjected to images such as Eriksen’s collapse will increase symptoms, including flashbacks.

 “The Total Release Experience® is a natural method of releasing that energy from the mind and the body and eliminating the symptoms of PTSD and, in my experience, it is very effective…and…we didn’t invent it.. we observed it in other species who use it in the natural world as a way of preventing the development of their PTSD.” PROFESSOR GORDON TURNBULL, CONSULTANT PSYCHIATRIST – World-leading expert for PTSD

If you have experienced trauma from viewing recent or past televised events or been affected by trauma in the front line, or if you want to gain control over your PTSD and emotional pain, then the simple, practical and empowering 5 Step programme The Total Release Experience® can help you achieve just that. Perhaps you feel you will never recover from the trauma – releasing your body’s tension and anxiety can help you with that recovery whilst bringing a sense of hope. Learn to listen to internal cues to maintain feelings of comfort and control at all times. Help yourself to make healing changes. Learn something that your body knows but your mind has forgotten. There is hope!

When a professional player attended learned my programme, he shared that injury led to his retirement.  He said stress starts at the academy level when young boys leave home to pursue their dream in the football world.  Unable to cope with the pressure of being selected and performing, a lot of talent goes no further.   The Total Release Experience® guarantees that young talent can thrive when tension and stress are released.  Stress in the world of football needs to be addressed.  For players and viewers impacted by sporting events, it is easy to let go of the pent-up tension, for if not, more dreams will be shattered by the impact.