Premier League final day and play-off finals: How to deal with crippling tension ahead of a big game
There’s a particular problem when you care deeply and adamantly about a football club: they can absolutely ruin your day, even before you’ve played.
The hours before a big one, the hours you could live right now, are absolutely hellish. The crippling knot in your stomach, the inability to focus on anything useful, the futility of trying to properly explain to strangers why you’re not quite yourself today.
If you’re not careful, the day before a game that will decide your club’s future in one way or another – titles, relegation, cup finals, Champions League qualification – can be a cancellation. absolute and make the whole thing even worse than it did. be.
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But there are things you can do to survive the day of a crucial match, a few ways to ease the inner turmoil.
First, be prepared for waves of apprehension to wash over you. You will probably forget about it for brief periods, but at various times it will become too much. Just sit there and take him out, maybe staring at the wall like some sort of incarcerated serial killer, because he’ll eventually ebb. But be prepared for the current.
Decide early on where you are going to watch and stick to that decision. You have enough to worry about without this kind of uncertainty adding to it.
Be patient with people asking how you’re doing because there will be plenty of them unless you lock yourself in one room, like Renton trying to detox at Trainspotting. For the most part, they’re just trying to be nice, even if it’s the ninth time this hour that someone has asked about your nerves.
It’s especially tricky when, as probably applies to too many of us, you’ve made your team’s support more of your personality than is probably ideal, and even more pronounced if the yours is a smaller team. Messages from people you haven’t spoken to in ages, who have been thinking of you because they know your team has a big one coming up, are really sweet but can get a little too much if they come in sufficient volume. That said, don’t be afraid to answer the question, “How do you feel?” with “Absolutely awful”. Now is not the time to pretend.
If you have a partner who doesn’t share your nerves, don’t let your tension cause you to beat them up. In all likelihood, they are trying to be nice, to appease you in some way, trying to empathize with something they may not really understand.
If things get too tense, you can try what’s called the “Paul Hunter approach,” but be aware that it’s a high-risk gamble. Hunter was a highly regarded snooker player who hovered around a few Masters finals he hung out in after retiring to his hotel room with his partner between playing sessions, emerging refreshed, relaxed and able to refocus. .
This kind of thing might help calm your nerves, but it could have consequences: only try it if you are absolutely sure that you can concentrate on the subject in question. If your partner suspects that you only suggested it to distract you from football-related nerves, it could be curtains.
Think very carefully about pooling your nerves with another fan. It might help, but it might make things worse for both of you. If so, try to pick someone who has opposite sensibilities to you: if you’re a pessimist, pair up with an optimist and see if they can relax you, but if you’re an optimist, spend some time with a pessimist. then you can distract yourself by telling them to stop being such a miserable bastard.
Exercise, if you like that sort of thing. Not only will it kill time, but there’s a half chance that endorphins will be released to smooth out the rough edges of your bad mood. And you’re gonna sweat anyway, so might as well get something useful out of it.
Work, if you think you can concentrate. Maybe not if you’re a taxi driver or a brain surgeon, because if you drift into some sort of energized mind palace, the consequences could be greater than if you were filling out a spreadsheet or writing a light-hearted article. for a subscription. sports app/website.
If you can’t/don’t want to work, distract yourself with menial and repetitive tasks. Nothing that takes a lot of brain power, because let’s be honest: it doesn’t happen. But something that will take time and focus. Painting a fence. Reorganize a library. Iron all your clothes. Cook a huge stew that you’re never going to eat.
Ah, yes, the food. Don’t force yourself to eat. You might think sustenance is a sensible option, and in most cases you’d be right, but there’s also every chance you’ll fill yourself up with more stuff to throw up. Your stomach will probably be about the size of a walnut, so don’t try to stuff anything in there that won’t fit.
You will almost certainly be faced with the urge to drink. Trust this urge. You know your alcohol tolerance better than I do, so pace yourself accordingly and don’t go too early, but there is comfort in forgetting. Even if you don’t go that far, it will take away the advantage. If you’re not drinking, have an orange juice, or a Yop, or whatever you order at the bar.
Seek comfort in friends. I hope you have someone, or someone, who can say soothing things to you, who will give you a hug, or make you a coffee, or who just knows when to shut up. Likewise, if you think a friend is likely to indulge in unwanted banter, from pre-game jibes to post-game memes recounting your pain, don’t hesitate to give them a precautionary warning for the knock on the head.
But above all, know that it will soon be over, and you will find yourself either with the deep joy and relief of success or the deep emptiness and despair of failure. One is preferable to the other, obviously, but even if it’s the latter you can take comfort in knowing that your team will be there next season. They’re always there, whether they’re a constant source of happiness or just bring you pain, at least they’re always there.
Good luck and be kind to yourself.
(Top photos: Getty Images/Design: Sam Richardson)