When Leisure Activities Become Stressful

By Alan Marzilli, Senior Writer, Advocates for Human Potential, Inc.

On Sunday, my cousin had a party in his recently built “dream home.” He was surrounded by friends and family, and the food and refreshments were great. Yet, on Monday, he was in a rotten mood. Why?

If you follow American sports, this riddle shouldn’t be very difficult to solve. His team lost the big game. Americans are by no means alone in our fanaticism about sporting events. Whether it’s soccer, skiing, cricket, ice hockey, or table tennis, just about every nation has a fascination with competition. And people tie their happiness to the success of their favored competitor or team. Researchers have suggested that a big sports loss could be connected to domestic violence, binge eating, and a host of other problems.

My cousin took the loss personally, even though it wasn’t his fault. He did everything an ordinary person could do to support his team. He bought season tickets, he bought official merchandise, and he cheered as loudly as he could at home games. But in the end, it’s up to the coaches and the players, and sometimes sheer luck, whether they win or lose. I suspect that some of the fans take a loss just as hard as the coaches and players, even though it’s illogical. Why should our happiness be so tied to events that are completely out of our control?

Sporting events are one example of something we think we are doing for enjoyment but can turn out to be stressful. WRAP Plus describes the importance of identifying and planning for “external upsetting events or circumstances that produce discomfort … things you don’t expect and that you have little or no control over.” Depending on our interests, we might also unwittingly take on stress through binge-watching television, going overboard on spending on a hobby, or taking internet comments or social media too personally.

A central theme in self-help, from the Serenity Prayer and the Seven Habits to WRAP, is focusing your energy on changing things you can control and improving your ability to cope with things you cannot change. Is it time to take a step back from things you are supposedly doing for enjoyment but are really adding stress to your life? It’s hard to give these things up completely, but WRAP can help you identify the types of things that trigger stress and come up with a plan to cope with that stress.

So whether you’re feeling down because your team lost, someone made a comment that offended you, or you have to wait a year for the next season of your favorite show, it might be time to revisit your WRAP. Chapter 7 of WRAP for Life offers some great suggestions for relieving stress and anxiety. Do you have any good tips for coping with stress caused by something you usually enjoy? Share them on our Facebook page.

Search WRAP Info Center