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March mindfulness: Staying calm amidst the 'Madness'

Rawpixel, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Rawpixel, iStock/Getty Images Plus

The University of Kentucky Public Relations & Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column provided by experts at UK HealthCare.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 18, 2024) – March is here and the madness has started. This month isn’t just stressful for players and coaches. As fans, our excitement and dedication make us feel like we’re on the court.

March Madness is supposed to be fun, why am I stressed out? As much as we look forward to this time of the year, sports have a way of bringing out our competitive side. The pressure for our team to win or fear of having a losing bracket can sometimes be too much.

Stress can present itself in many different ways. Some classic stress symptoms to look out for are difficulty sleeping, inability to focus, lack of energy and change in appetite. Excessive alcohol consumption can exacerbate these symptoms.

Ways you can reduce stress:

  • Healthy diet. Well balanced meals and snacks keep our bodies feeling good.
  • Exercise. Find a way to get your body moving, it could be as simple as taking a midday walk or going to your favorite workout class.
  • Limit screen time. We’re all guilty of getting home from work and immediately scrolling on our phones. Finding a different outlet for our time, like reading a book, is a great way to help our minds calm down.
  • Mindfulness. Whether it be taking a few deep breaths at your desk or waking up every morning and meditating, any kind of mindfulness is beneficial.

How to practice mindfulness during the big game. Sporting events and high emotional situations can affect your overall health. Stress is a huge factor during these situations and there are ways to be mindful to reduce those levels. Deep breathing and walking can help reduce stress. 

How stress effects heart health. In the last 5 to 10 years, there has been an increased number of heart attacks in people under the age of 40. Stress is a major contributor to overall heart health, high blood pressure and risk of diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes (about two-and-a-half hours) of exercise a week and to maintain a balanced diet. If you are having abnormal symptoms and have a family history of poor heart health, contact your primary care provider.

Make sure to exercise before a big game and eat normally. Basic CPR training is also recommended in case you are in a situation where someone is having a heart problem. If you find yourself to be a bystander in this situation, call 911 immediately.

UK HealthCare is the hospitals and clinics of the University of Kentucky. But it is so much more. It is more than 10,000 dedicated health care professionals committed to providing advanced subspecialty care for the most critically injured and ill patients from the Commonwealth and beyond. It also is the home of the state’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that cares for the tiniest and sickest newborns, the region’s only Level 1 trauma center and Kentucky’s top hospital ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

As an academic research institution, we are continuously pursuing the next generation of cures, treatments, protocols and policies. Our discoveries have the potential to change what’s medically possible within our lifetimes. Our educators and thought leaders are transforming the health care landscape as our six health professions colleges teach the next generation of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals, spreading the highest standards of care. UK HealthCare is the power of advanced medicine committed to creating a healthier Kentucky, now and for generations to come.