March Madness and Mental Health

Written by Eric Pollak

March Madness is in full swing and for many Americans this means 3 weeks of NCAA college basketball, brackets, betting, and lost work time. According to the employment consulting firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, approximately 50 million Americans participate in March Madness pools, costing employers an estimated $1.2 billion dollars in lost productivity.  Furthermore, the FBI reports that March Madness generates $2.5 billion in illegal bets each year. However, there are many positive effects of this annual tradition, which are often overlooked. As a March Madness fan myself, I’d like to shed some well deserved light on the benefits of the great tournament.

March Madness facilitates conversation between colleagues and can create an environment of camaraderie. Communication is an integral aspect of the work atmosphere, even if it’s about topics unrelated to work. Through these exchanges and dialogue, the NCAA tournament can aid in boosting worker morale. According to a 2010 survey, 41 percent of managers polled reported that March Madness increased employee happiness.

The increased social bonds created through March Madness are not limited to relationships in the work place, but extend their benefits to interpersonal relationships in general. Studies have found that sports provide a common ground for people to be able to relate to one another and connect in ways that would otherwise not be possible. Daniel Wann, Pd.D., a professor of psychology at Murray State University, explains “being a fan gives us something to talk about, to share and bond with others and for the vast majority of people, it’s psychologically healthier when you can increase social connections with others”. Regardless of whether you are a lifelong diehard or a once a year fan, the tournament creates a social forum for people to discuss, analyze, and debate.

Research has demonstrated time and time again that there is a correlation between feeling connected to others and greater happiness. Just as food and shelter are essential foundational components of our lives, so are friendships and social connections. Regardless of whether one connects to family, spouses, friends, or work colleagues, each of these relationships can impact our experience of happiness. Feeling connected to a group or community also provides us with a sense of identity, as it helps us feel that we are part of something. So, rooting for a particular team or one’s alma mater can allow one to feel part of something greater than themselves and thus a greater sense of happiness. Additionally, researchers have found that people are happier when they are in the company of others, than when they are alone. Throughout the three weeks of the March Madness tournament people tend to gather to watch the games and have shared experiences, which can also boost levels of happiness.

Many employers are aware of the aforementioned benefits and have started to utilize the tournament for team building and enhancing morale in the office by encouraging employees to complete brackets and watch the games together. For those employers that don’t allow employees to watch, I am by no means sanctioning employees using their work time to watch college basketball without employer consent. However, psychologically savvy supervisors will certainly recognize that the benefits of March Madness tend to offset the potential drawbacks

The Madness is here! Let’s embrace it and utilize it as an opportunity to increase our social connections and thus our happiness. The probability of picking a perfect bracket has been estimated to be 9.2 quintillion to 1. Fortunately, the odds of one benefiting from the social and communal nature of the tournament are much greater!


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Calmer in the Face of Hardship
I came to the Center for Anxiety for help in dealing with a family member who suffered from extreme anxiety. But I ended up getting a serious illness two months later and started having my own sessions. With the help of my therapist I got through my illness, learned to understand my habits that were making my major life stresses worse, learned to communicate better, taper my anger, and surprisingly I became more calmer even though my hardships in life worsened. Therapy is a lot of work and not easy, but nothing in life comes easy! I became a better and softer mom and (when I practice what I learned) and my kids and home are calmer and happier. I am still a work in progress and have more to work on, but I know I am on the right path. I wish I knew before how my communication style and anger were really impacting my life, how being softer you can accomplish way more then being harsh. I have been to other therapists in the past and I can hands down say that the Center for Anxiety’s approach is really effective. I have even referred a bunch of people to the Center and they have been really happy with the therapists and how much they really care for their patients.
I Tackled a Long List of Fears
When I first came to the Center for Anxiety, my list of anxieties/fears was long! I was scared of getting sick, getting stranded, driving, flying and more. With the help of my therapist, I immediately got to work and tackled every one of my fears. Now the world is open to me and I feel free! I can dream big and accomplish whatever I set my mind to! I am especially grateful that I was able to do all this without having to rely on medication. It was hard work – grueling at times! – but now I have the coping tools within me for life. In fact a family member recently said to me “You are awesome. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to because you don’t let fear stop you! ” Thank you Dr. Rosmarin and the Center for Anxiety staff for helping me get here. My fears no longer limit me and I love my life. Try it, it might turn your life around too!
Highly Skilled and Professional Treatment
When I sought treatment at the Center for Anxiety, the clinic was is in its incipient stages. However, by the time I successfully finished treatment, the Center for Anxiety grew and flourished into a world-class treatment center, offering cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment to countless individuals. The continued success of the Center for Anxiety comes as no surprise to me, with a team that contains such highly skilled professionals who display clinical acumen, empathy, and compassion. When I first entered treatment I was concerned that therapy would be similar to the experiences with past psychologists: a seemingly bottomless pit with no reductions in my anxiety symptoms, but was so relieved when I started to feel less anxious after only a handful of sessions. My therapist created a treatment plan that was tailored exactly to my needs and taught me practical skills to help me work through my anxiety that I still use and practice to this very day.
No More Panic
When I first came in, I was struggling with panic disorder and didn’t even know it, which only made dealing with it that much more difficult. After my first time sitting down with my therapist, however, I instantly started to gain perspective and look at the difficult situation in a different light. Our meetings helped me conquer the issue step by step and get my life back on track. I’d strongly recommend that anyone dealing with anxiety in a way that impacts their day to day life should visit the Center for Anxiety! I know it helped me tremendously.
Free of Obsessions
When I woke up one morning last June and didn’t want to get out of bed, I knew I needed help. The thought of getting through another day with all my anxieties, obsessions and rituals was just too overwhelming. After feeling stuck for years, I just couldn’t anymore. Thankfully, that’s when I found the Center for Anxiety. Dr. Rosmarin and his staff are experts at what they do, kind and professional. After just several weeks I accomplished my initial targets. The change I experienced in such a short amount of time was astounding that I stayed on for a while longer to work on more complex goals. I soon achieved those too. Now, I am free of my obsessions, know how to manage my anxiety, and love my life. My only regret: not having done this sooner. I wish I had known that you don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom to get help.
Depression Lifted
I’m 26 years old and I’ve been suffering from terrible depression for 7 years. In the throws of my sadness I literally wanted to die. Soon after starting therapy at the Center for Anxiety, my depression lifted. My suicidal thoughts began to dissipate. I remember the feeling that came over me as soon as the dark cloud above me left. It was the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. I actually shouted to my friends, family and anyone nearby me “I’m Happy! I am Happy!” I felt free.
Over the course of four years I developed anxiety-like symptoms (tightness in chest, gut, back) that slowly but surely increased in duration and severity. The EXTREMELY uncomfortable nature of the symptoms notwithstanding, I still continued and managed to function. The effort required to do so, however, left me utterly drained. Having always been a very spiritual person I strongly felt that a course of therapy incorporating a spiritual component could potentially work well for me and decided to give the Center for Anxiety a try. Happily, I have achieved significant symptom reduction, tremendously improved emotional/mental health, and above all, Connection. Medication free. I’m no longer just existing, I’m LIVING. I’ve been given a second chance to become the unique human being that I was meant to be.
No More worries
I have wormed in healthcare for 36 years in many different settings, and I have been overwhelmingly satisfied with the Center for Anxiety. When staff says they are going to call, I get a call. From the first contact, I have been very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency. I had a situation and needed to have sessions more than once per week, and my clinicians worked out a schedule to accommodate my needs. I was astounded that they attended to me so quickly and effectively - they made my priority their priority. My clinicians were also excellent at what they do - they have a plan for me each session, and it's clear that they have thought in advance about each session, and that they are listening to what I say and observing what I do, even though our sessions have been conducted via Telehealth. Compassion is a quality that I have all too often found to be lacking in my experiences as a healthcare professional and patient, and this is not the case with the Center for Anxiety. Of all the websites I found on Google, I am so thankful that God guided my hand to yours.

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