It may sound funny, but there really is such a thing as the end-of-football-season blues.
When you spend a bunch of Sundays gathered with friends, family and munchies, rooting for your team, celebrating the glorious highs and moaning over the devastating lows, you're going to feel something when the emotional roller coaster comes to an abrupt halt.
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If you're one of the millions of men and women whose autumn-through-winter activities involve the ups and downs of those 17+ pro-football games leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, how do you cope with the aftermath?
I actually began feeling it in December, when, as the college-football season started winding down, I uncontrollably started to mourn the loss of my weekend buddy. I would miss the energy that I get from just knowing the games are on. I seldom sit and watch an entire game, but I like the feeling of having it on in the background while I do things around the house or even when I'm writing.
I wasn't always a football fan, and I never played in school, but Dad took me to a few games (when L.A. still had a team), and I remember learning a great lesson from him. When I asked him which team he wanted to win, he said, "Son, I don't care. I just want to see a good game." Those words still affect me today. I really do enjoy just seeing a good game.
When the season comes to an end, I don't recommend running for the antidepressants. Being temporarily down is a normal reaction, and you simply need to learn to cope with it. The truth is that if you really enjoy something and it stops, you have a right to feel a little down, but don't let it mess up your world. You need to take it in stride.
You also need to remind yourself that your favorite sport isn't over; it's just taking a holiday. Besides, those players need some time to heal from all the hits they've taken. These guys need a break, and they'll be back next season.
When your team wins or even when you've just seen a great play, it's truly something to cheer about. But if what gives you joy doesn't thrill your partner nearly as much, you do need to create some balance. During the season, there should be an understanding and some boundaries. You could watch games all weekend long and that really wouldn't be fair to the ones you love and live with.
Some people record their games and others just pick one or two for weekend viewing, which can help your mate avoid the feeling of being left out. I also recommend that partners do what they can to get into the games and be a part of the excitement.
So dry your eyes, football fans. The gridiron boys will be back, and you can have your games and your family, too, as long as you keep it fair.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence -- Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too." Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)
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