Sunday is a big day here in Chiefs Kingdom. The Chiefs will be playing in the AFC title game against the Tennessee Titans. A win not only earns the team the Lamar Hunt trophy, but also a spot in Super Bowl LIV.
How many times this season has this happened - your team is close to a play that could change the score of the game. Your breath quickens. Your heart races. Your muscles tense. As your anxiety builds, you might even feel like you're on the verge of having a heart attack.
“What you're experiencing is the phenomenon termed the "fight-or-flight" response,” says Paramdeep Baweja, MD, Interventional Cardiologist and medical director of Truman Medical Center's cardiac catheterization lab. “In a stressful situation, your body releases a flood of chemicals such as adrenaline, which prepares your body for action. Your blood pressure goes up and your heart rate increases. This puts extra strain in your heart. Underlying heart problems can get unmasked in situations like this raising the risk for a heart attack or other heart problems like stress cardiomyopathy,” Dr. Baweja says.
If you’re doing your part by cheering at home (or in the stands!), consider some of these tips from Dr. Baweja and the American Heart Association (AHA) to have a healthier game-time experience.
Minimize your caffeine intake
A cup of joe in the morning is a great way to kick start the day, but too much caffeine can make you jittery and sometimes increases anxiety in some people. Come Sunday morning, you’ll probably already be hyped, so you might rethink that usual second (or third) cup.
“Deep breath in, deep breath out”
Things can get so exciting during a game, you find yourself holding your breath or breathing a little more rapidly than usual. Try to remind yourself (maybe during those time outs or commercials?) to get a couple of deep breaths in throughout those four quarters.
Make the game watching zone a smoke-free zone
It’s easier said than done since smoking is usually connected to being a stress reliever for those who smoke, but if you can, try not to light up, or at least light up less, while watching. Studies have shown smoking can increase the risk of heart disease.
Make healthy drink choices the rest of the day too!
Staying hydrated is never a bad thing. It can help if you’re feeling hungry (sometimes hunger cues may really be a symptom of dehydration). Drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, can carry a high calorie count too, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when quenching your thirst.
Getting caught up in the game might lead to less focus on what’s on your plate. Our advice? Just make an effort to eat mindfully. The AHA suggests picking healthier meats to throw on the grill, and adding some fruits and veggies when you’re loading up on sides.
Try to take it easy
Whether you’re prepping for a watch party or trying to make it inside Arrowhead in time for the B-2 stealth bomber flyover, you might feel a little rushed, and stressed before the game even starts. Help alleviate stress by giving yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go or get ready for your guests.