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Dr. Phil McGraw

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Post Football Depression Syndrome

Posted: 02/ 3/2012 9:00 am

SBS. Super Bowl Sunday. For most men, it makes their year. Unfortunately, for too many, the year ends the day after. PFDS, Post Football Depression Syndrome sets in and sets in with a vengeance. It begins the morning of February 6 this year. Look it up. No review needed for this call. No flag on this field. Emptiness, despair, panic! What now? PFDS is an all out blitz that hits most American males the day after the Super Bowl.

The good news is you get your husband back. For the last six months, men, young and old, have been watching football games like they have a stake in the team or might be called on to "suit up" and get in there at any moment!

Since August, from their "owner's box" easy chairs they have put their feet up and were handed a bowl of chips and salsa. This helped get their spine angle set for college games in September. The next few months of three college games on Saturday and seemingly endless NFL games on Sunday are a blur for everyone but the wives and girlfriends whose only "fantasy football" was that the real one would end. And yes, they also sat through your Mondays and Thursdays, which always confused them. Women have to be thinking "Hey! I thought we only negotiated for Sunday."

But alas now, Bang, it's all over. From coast to coast, football-loving males literally don't know what to do with themselves on weekend afternoons. They grab their remotes and aimlessly click from one channel to another, watching some NBA games, baseball spring training, perhaps a few minutes of hockey, even a second or two of women's figure skating in the hopes that they add a cheer. Yet nothing seems to satisfy their inner ache to stare at a bunch of grown men in helmets colliding violently into one another.

Long ago, I went through my own bouts of PFDS, wandering the house like a ghost, my hands shaking from anxiety. I used to play football in college, for heaven's sakes. The end of the season was, for me, like a small death.

But I have now come out of the other side, and I have to tell you guys, instead of suffering from post-partum Super Bowl sadness, you have a perfect opportunity to improve your life and make yourself happier in ways that might even surprise you. So here goes:

1. Pay Attention to That Woman Who is in Your House.
Let's say you only spent three hours a week watching football this past season. From September through January, that adds up to 48 hours -- two full days. Not bad, you're thinking. What's two days a month in return for the infinite joys of football? Well, throw in some golf on the weekends, maybe a few nights out with the guys -- whatever male bonding thing you like to do -- and add a few more football games, and you easily will have run up at least a week being completely on your own. To put it another way, you will have spent a week not being with the woman in your life.
Granted, your partner might be the type who says she loves having her weekend afternoons to herself or she's the type who sits through games with you, cheering on your team. But even then, she might occasionally think, "I wish he'd sometimes pay attention to me the way he pays attention to his football games." She might go so far as to suspect, deep down, that she isn't as loved or as appreciated as much as she should be.

So, on the first weekend after the Super Bowl, why don't you spend the hours you normally would spend watching football doing something to make your "football widow" feel special? I don't care if Valentine's Day is just around the corner. On the weekend of February 12th, take your partner to a movie that she wants to see or do something with her that you know she likes to do even if it makes you crazy, like antiquing. Then, for all those Sundays she's fixed you halftime snacks, make her dinner -- or take her to dinner. Give her a thank-you card for putting up with you for another season. And on another afternoon, take her for a massage, a manicure and a pedicure at your neighborhood day spa.

As I often tell my male guests who come on my shows and who don't seem to have a clue about female life, "When Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Get the message? This is the time to make sure Momma's happy.

2. And Then Pay Attention to Those Kids Who Live With You.
It's one thing to watch a football game with your kids, but it's another thing entirely to do something with them in which they are the sole focus of your attention. And I'm not suggesting you have a quick catch-up talk one Saturday afternoon with your children or that you take them through a fast food restaurant for lunch. Why don't you use one of those three-hour blocks you had spent on a football game and use it to take your children on an adventure. It could be something new, like a trip to a museum that none of you have been to before -- or a day trip out-of-town. But make it something. Trust me, even if they roll their eyes and say, "Oh, Dad," they won't forget it.

3. Do Some Chores.
Don't laugh. A lot of you have been putting off all the stuff that needs to get done around the house, thinking you'll get to it when your weekends are free. And, of course, now that your weekends are free, you still don't want to do anything. Deep down, you could very well be thinking your job is to work during the week and bring home the bacon, and that your weekends should be time to relax, except to take out the trash and mow the lawn. Sorry, but it's up to you to get that broken gutter fixed. For one thing, you'll definitely feel better about yourself at least having gotten something done, no matter how minor.

4. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.
Are you one of these guys who tell people that you watch football because you love the thrill of competition? Or that you like watching the way players overcome seemingly impossible challenges and accomplish heroic feats?

Okay, I'm not saying you should go out and try something superhuman to get over your post-Super Bowl malaise. But please let me state the obvious: there's nothing easier, and more comfortable, than sitting on your couch staring at a TV. So what about coming up with some project that pushes you outside your usual boundaries for three hours each weekend? Something that makes you take a chance? It could be as simple as sticking to a fitness program. I know a guy who started volunteering for a nonprofit charity instead of languishing in his PFDS when his Saturday college football afternoons came to an end. No, he didn't change the world. He didn't get his name in lights like an NFL star. But in his own way, he made a difference.

You can too. And who knows? By the time August rolls around again, you might surprise yourself and realize that you don't have the desire to watch as much football as you once had.

Alright, I'll admit, that's a ridiculous suggestion. But maybe you'll want to do something more with yourself than watch three games in a row? Would that be all that bad? And on a side note, how come they don't add a football to figure skating?