Kindness is key to bouncing back from disappointment of England's loss

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Watch: Celebrities lead tributes to England players after Euros loss. 

England's loss to Italy in the final of the Euros 2020 has left many of us feeling deflated. 

Turns out football isn't coming home after all and now we're left trying to get over the disappointment.

Having not reached a major final for 55 years, England fans are well-used to bouncing back from disappointment, so why does it feel so much harder to handle this time?

It probably won't come as a surprise to learn the pandemic has had a role to play in magnifying our feelings of loss. 

"With the excitement and anticipation so heightened during our journey through the Euros, it is no surprise that many of us will be feeling a deep disappointment," explains Lee Chambers, psychologist and wellbeing consultant.

"This has been heightened by the pandemic, where so many of us have faced adversity and missed out on many celebrations of our own and those close to us." 

Chambers says being able to come together as a nation to celebrate at such a difficult time, has increased our emotional attachment to the team, and with the loss, we will feel like another big opportunity to celebrate and be optimistic together has been taken away.

"With the team playing so well, and being such a diverse collective, the whole nation has come together, and our quiet expectations have been gradually rising, something that we have had multiple times over the past 18 months as we have been told that things are opening up and COVID is behind us," he continues.

"Sadly, the goalposts have been moved numerous times with lockdowns and restrictions, and losing in the final feels similar to having those hopes dashed."

Read more: Missing the 'cuddle hormone': How lockdown has impacted friendships

There are methods to help us overcome disappointment. (Getty Images)
There are methods to help us overcome disappointment. (Getty Images)

Why does disappointment hurt so much?

"Disappointment is an emotive reaction to something we anticipated or expected to happen," Chambers explains. "It can decrease our happiness hormones, including serotonin and dopamine, and it can activate the areas of our brain that are involved in pain messaging." 

Ultimately, Chambers says, disappointment can actually feel like you are hurting mentally and physically. 

"Disappointment can also make us more likely to focus on negative thoughts and self-talk, and can be an emotional trigger for behaviours that help us to cope in the moment, but not feel beneficial on reflection," he adds.  

Hence, why so many people turn to drinking alcohol or comfort eating when trying to overcome feelings of disappointment. 

However, as Chambers points out, if you can avoid relying on these unhealthy crutches, there are actually some benefits to feeling disappointed. 

"It is worth remembering that disappointment can be great fuel for finding what didn't go to plan and see if we can influence things more positively in the future," he explains. 

So how do we bounce back? 

While getting over last night's disappointment may take some time, experts say there are some ways to hurry things along.

Accept and express your feelings

According to Chambers, the best way to tackle disappointment is first to recognise the emotions, accept them and let them out. 

"Speak to people, write it out, be creative and make something, or get outside and move your body," he suggests. 

"It is also great to get other people's perspectives, support and a second viewpoint." 

Read more: The psychological impact of not having anything to look forward to

How to bounce back from feelings of disappointment. (Getty Images)
How to bounce back from feelings of disappointment. (Getty Images)

Take a moment to wallow

You may find your sense of calm more easily if you allow yourself to indulge the initial shock of disappointment.

"It's hard to sustain the biology behind all the suspense and nail-biting moments over such a prolonged period of full time, extra time and penalties," says Dr Marianne Trent, clinical psychologist at Good Thinking Psychological Services

"We are always going to have a post-match slump and may feel a bit jittery as a result and disappointment makes it feel all the worse. Stay kind to yourself. Stay kind to the team. Remain united. Remain human. It's okay to have big feelings, just keep them kind."

Support each other

It is important to express feelings of disappointment and loss, talk about how you are feeling and help others to do the same, especially children. 

Dr Shungu Hilda M'gadzah, director and lead consultant psychologist at Inclusion Psychologists, says it's important not to dwell on what could have been. 

Instead she says we need to focus on what we achieved in getting so far: "Send out positive messages and focus your attention on helping others, including the players, recover. 

"Let's focus our attention on them and helping them recover and this will also help us recover and move on until next time. We will regroup and have another opportunity to bring it home."

Read more: Money panic is harming men's mental health - here's how to get back on track

Many of us are feeling disappointed today. (Getty Images)
Many of us are feeling disappointed today. (Getty Images)

Focus on the positives

Difficult as it may seem, instead of focusing on the loss, it's important to take the positive from the situation. 

"The sense of disappointment many people will feel waking up this morning is not what we may have hoped for, but as we have all come to appreciate in the past 18 months, we have to take the positives away from every situation, regardless how challenging," explains Andy Chambers, founder Born Human.

"We have the choice to acknowledge and build on our achievements and focus on the incredible feeling it is to overcome tough milestones in life. Our football team have set a great example of how great things can be achieved with the right attitude and commitment. 

"'Rome wasn’t built in a day' is too much of a delicate analogy, but you get my point."

Be kind to yourself

Another powerful tool to get over feelings of disappointment is to take some time to look after yourself.

"Be compassionate, and reflect on positives, like your achievements, things you're grateful for, and looking at how you have used past disappointments to succeed," Chambers adds.

"Finally, looking after your fundamentals of sleeping well, eating healthily, and practising mental training like meditation, mindfulness, and breath work are really good ways to maintain your emotional balance, giving you the resilience to bounce back quickly."

Seek professional help

While the majority of us will get over our disappointment in time, Helen Llewellyn, director at Infinity Wellbeing says if you have feelings of depression that last more than a few hours after a disappointing result of a football match, you should talk to a therapist or counsellor. 

"If you are employed, ask your manager for details of the employee wellbeing provider if you don't already have them," she adds. 

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