mental health of football fans

Why Match Day Is a Win for Your Mental WellbeingGLYN KIRK – Getty Images

Are you a team player? According to research on ‘cultural dimensions’ led by psychologist Geert Hofstede, the UK is one of the most individualistic societies in the world. Though some might take comfort in the idea of Great Britain as a nation of self-reliant lone rangers, the belief that we exist independently of each other can take a heavy mental toll. After all, it’s human nature to crave belonging, and researchers such as George W Brown and Tirril Harris have long demonstrated that a sense of community and social support can alleviate depression and help us deal with the anxiety and stress that life may bring.

It’s perhaps partly for this reason that sport means so much to us. A recent study conducted by psychologists at Anglia Ruskin University found that attending live sporting events can positively shift our subjective wellbeing and reduce feelings of isolation. Simply turning up as a spectator – whether it’s for a cup final or a local cricket match – was found to boost levels of ‘life satisfaction’, a metric associated not only with better mental health but also with lower mortality rates and good physical health. Crucial to this effect is that such events provide ample opportunities for social interaction, mitigating loneliness and fostering group identities. In other words, when we join a buzzy crowd and become invested in a match, we feel part of a collective that’s reassuringly bigger than ourselves. So, focusing on your mental health could be as simple as accepting that there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’. So will you be heading to the game this weekend?

Strength in Numbers

Not a sports guy? Find another way to crowd-source better health.

Take The Mic

Belting out your favourite song at a karaoke night increases the release of dopamine, which can lower your blood pressure, breathing rate and heart rate.

Team Up

Studies show a weekly group fitness class can improve wellbeing and reduce perceived stress more efficiently than a solo workout session.

Get The Gig

See it live: researchers from Imperial College London found that attending concerts reduces the release of stress hormones such as cortisol.

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