medicMedic!

When playing a competitive, all-or-nothing game, do you hobble into battle on your last legs, health all but gone, hoping to be the best on your team?

Probably not.

Chances are you do what you can to recover your health before rushing off into the thick of things, becoming the gallant hero your team needs in order to achieve victory. Whatever that method is – be it a healing spell, a first aid kit, or just a moment to catch your breath – you take careful steps to ensure your character is in as good health as possible. After all, you really can’t be of much use if you’re all but dead.

Just as you worry about your playable character, you as the gamer are also in constant need of vigilance over your health. Sure, you may not have magical spells to cast at will to increase your stamina, and finding hearts in a clay pot probably wouldn’t do you much good, either (those hearts probably don’t work anymore if that’s where you found them…). However, there are plenty of ways in which you can take care of yourself so when you game, your focus is 100% on the task at hand – winning.

eat-betterEat Better, Play Better

As a gamer, eating can just waste precious screen time. There are only so many hours in a day, after all! It can be easy to justify the easy-to-grab food staples: chips, energy drinks, and pizza delivery. But too much of that can have an adverse effect on not just your health, but your ability to preform while gaming.

A 2009 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicates a heavy correlation between time spent playing video games and depression and overweightness in adults. You probably already know how to counter the overweight problem, and if you guessed better eating habits, you’d be right!

But what about depression? Surely depression has negative effects on your gaming (it does, as a matter of fact). The answer to overcoming this problem is also eating healthily!

Another study shows that fatty and sugary foods can lead to depression. So, in order to do away with those negative emotions, start eating less of those harmful foods. While fatty snacks can help give you energy for a time, there are healthier alternatives. Nuts, salads, vegetables, and fruit provide the energy you need while keeping your body healthy and strong (I mean, have you seen how ripped Donkey Kong is? And all he eats are bananas!).

Another problem with dietary fat is that it can slow down your brain, and in a life-or-respawn situation, you’re going to want those synaptic nerves firing as fast as they can. The thing is, the excessive amounts in fat in foods such as pizza clogs your blood flow, making it harder for those essential cells to make it to your brain with blood and oxygen. Your brain uses oxygen to function, so when you’re eating your pizza with nay a care in the world, what you’re really doing is starving your brain. And you’re going to want that if you plan on being the very best (like no one ever was).

Finally, do away with the drinks and drugs that give you the jitters. That energy drink in your hand? Do yourself a favor and switch to plain ol’ water. Why? Because water will still provide you with energy, and it won’t leave you with shaky hands and a brain unable to focus due to caffeine or sugar overload.

Besides, too much stimulant can not only harm your gaming experience, but your entire career.

In 2015, a Counter Strike: Global Offensive pro player – and most of his team – admitted to taking the prescription drug Adderall before the competition. While there were no anti-doping policies at the time, that has since changed, and getting hopped up on energy-inducing drugs can have negative consequences. Instead, dietary supplements can replace those drugs, providing you an even healthier alternative to maintaining your peak performance levels – without the adverse side effects.

exerciseExercise: A Necessary Evil

Let’s be honest, video games don’t exactly encourage an active lifestyle. Hour after hour of seemingly endless time practicing in front of your computer might help your muscle memory, but your physical and mental fitness could come up lacking.

eSports professionals burn out faster than most any other professional out there. This is due in large part to the intense mental requirements caused by endless hours of practicing and playing. In fact, most eSports professionals retire in their mid-20’s. If you want to break past this barrier, a little bit of exercise can go a long way.

Working out – even just for a few minutes here and there – can make a world of difference to your game. If you have a gym nearby (other than a Pokémon gym), buy a membership. It’ll help motivate you to go out and exercise. If not – or if that’s just money you don’t want to spend – then find a routine at home. Pushups, pull ups, and even a short jog around the block can do wonders for your body and mind.

A common misconception about exercise is that it is only important for your physical body. While it’s true that your body will benefit greatly from it, exercise is also important for a healthy mind. As mentioned above, depression is commonly linked with video games. Exercise can help eliminate those negative feelings, giving you a positive boost. Likewise, exercise can also help increase brain function, helping you to think faster and more effectively. Once again, there are countless times in your games where quick thinking will not only save your life, but grant you success and victory as well.

Aside from the active aspect of exercise, your gaming setup can also have a huge impact on your physical health. Your physical approach to gaming can help give you that extra edge you need. Work on your posture, making sure you don’t slouch. Adjust your screen so that it’s at an ideal height for you to reduce eyestrain. And of course, make sure you have adequate time for breaks and sleep.

count-lest-sheepCount Less Sheep

Games can be so all encompassing that it’s not surprising if hours have gone by in what seemed to be just a blink. While being a pro gamer requires tons of practice, don’t let it take away from your sleep schedule. It’s practically common sense that getting enough sleep is good for your health and mind.

It takes more than just stopping and going to bed to give you an effective night’s rest, however. Studies show that even gaming before bed can be disruptive to a good sleep. The obvious cure for this is to stop playing well in advance before it’s time to hit the hay. This is due in part to the blue light emitted by most monitors. This light suppresses melatonin production, which is a key part in making you tired and sleeping soundly through the night. So when should you stop playing? It’s recommended to stop staring at the screen at least an hour before bedtime.

Not only can playing video games into the night affect your consecutive time asleep, but it can also keep you awake when you’re trying to fall asleep. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that those who played video games for 2.5 hours before bed had a much more difficult time falling asleep than those who only played for 50 minutes. So if you do plan on playing video games right up until it’s time for bed, just ensure you don’t do it for more than an hour. Otherwise you could be sacrificing some of that much-needed sleep.

balance-gamingBalance Gaming with Adulting

As with everything in life, balance is essential. After all, what would the Force be without the Jedi to balance out the evil of the Sith? Indeed, our world needs balance to keep it running smoothly. The same goes for you and your gaming habits.

If you’re like most people, you have other responsibilities other than playing games (drats). Family, work, school, and even the latest epic fantasy novel are all competing with your video games for your time. Unless you’re getting paid the big bucks to play, you will most certainly have to sacrifice your games now and again for something else.

As much as we all hate to admit it, video games aren’t always our top priority. We like to think they are, but that three-page paper due the next day isn’t going to write itself. Besides that, you need to make it to work on time so you don’t get fired, and yes, your significant other also expects some quality time with you. So how are you supposed to manage everything?

Make lists. What do you absolutely have to accomplish in a given day? Those are your top priorities. Do them at all costs. Then look at what you’re obligated to do. This includes work, family, school, and other things. Between all those musts-do’s and obligations, then you can schedule in some gaming time, along with anything else you want to do. Remember, though, that each day has a finite amount of hours. Use them wisely to accomplish everything you need and want to (this includes sleep, by the way).

Playing too many video games in a day can limit the amount of time you have to do other, more necessary things, such as homework or spending time with your significant other. Too much gaming can also cause addiction, which can lead to depression, anxiety, poor grades at school, and subpar work at your job. Of course, not everyone who plays video games for long periods of time is addicted. But if excessive game play begins damaging certain aspects of your life, perhaps it’s time to take a step back for a while.

Video games can demand many hours of playtime. If you find yourself apt to be pulled in by a game, find ways to limit that pull, or at least make it so you can climb back out when you need to. Certain games have no real start or stop point, which can make it difficult to tell yourself that it’s time to stop. If these games suck you in and you know you just don’t have time, perhaps you should consider avoiding them for a while, at least until you have time. Many games also have tons of side quests. While not exactly necessary to beating the game, they certainly are fun to do. The only problem is, they make you sink a ton of extra time into a game (I mean, is getting your character a high bartending skill really worth it?). Again, consider running past those side quests and focusing on the task at hand – saving the world! (Hold on, I just need to catch one more fish. The world can wait…)

There are other methods you can try to keep from spending too many hours playing when you just don’t have that much time. Just remember, without proper balance in your life, you could very well be doing more harm than good.

It’s Time to Level Up

eSports can take a lot out of you, which makes it vitally important to take care of your personal well-being. Having the stamina, health, and mental ability to outmaneuver your opponent begins away from the glowing screen. It begins with your diet, lifestyle, and how well you take care of yourself. A healthy mind and body promotes a winning strategy, so if you want to improve your game, start by leveling up your health.

Written by: Jordan Knight - JVK27