10 Ways to Keep a Healthy Gaming Life Balance
Gaming is a great way to wind down after a hard day’s work, connect with friends, and learn new skills. It also takes gamers on a journey to a new reality where they can create their own characters and worlds. Gaming enthusiasts are encouraged to take on different roles and work in teams to solve problems or unlock new levels, particularly when playing strategy-based games. In a study of 2,000 children, researchers found that young people who play video games for three or more hours per day display higher activity in brain segments associated with attention, memory, and cognitively demanding tasks.
But similar to social media, gaming can also come between routines and daily necessities like a healthy sleep schedule or studies. Gaming and mental health are closely connected, and healthy gamers are happy gamers. Let’s consider how to balance gaming and life to keep our bodies and minds in top shape.
1. Set boundaries
Setting a healthy gaming routine is crucial to ensure a positive balance. Instead of picking up the controller whenever it suits, gamers can schedule time for gaming and other tasks like homework, eating a nutritious meal, or exercising. Establishing boundaries helps keep the gaming experience fresh and allows for rest between sessions, which gives muscles and reflexes time to repair. Allowing unrestricted gaming time to seep into daily life can lead to feelings of being out of control and negatively impact our mental space.
Physical boundaries are also important. A dedicated gaming space helps avoid blurred boundaries between gaming and life’s other duties. For example, gaming in bed or on the sofa can mean that we do not have a clear boundary between game time and sleep time, meaning we struggle to get a good night’s rest. A separate space helps us become more disciplined with our gaming habits and allows us to draw a line between gaming and other activities.
2. Set a time limit
It can feel like we have hundreds of things on our to-do list. Our daily lives include school or work commitments, family time, and getting enough sleep. Alongside strong boundaries, we should also set a time limit for gaming to ensure we can juggle our other tasks. It is easy to overindulge or get lost in fantasy worlds and persuade ourselves to have just one more game before putting down the controller. Limiting ourselves to a certain gaming time each day can help us be more organized and productive in other areas of life.
Setting a time limit could include researching how long a game will take or setting an alarm to indicate when we have reached our daily time quota.
3. Take regular breaks in between games
Regular breaks are crucial for helping our bodies recoup between intense gaming sessions. Just like focused studying before exams, long and uninterrupted gaming periods can hurt our eyes and muscles. Taking regular gaming breaks and allowing our muscles to rest can improve our gaming skills and reaction times. Moreover, getting up and stretching or moving around between sessions enhances blood flow and circulation, making us feel energized and ready for the next round of games.
4. Get adequate sleep
Sleep is a basic human need and is crucial to our overall well-being. Inadequate sleep can leave us cranky and anxious and can result in chronic health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Feeling tired or dozing off at random intervals during the day could indicate sleep deficiency. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night can enhance our ability to fight germs and sickness, heal and repair, and support growth and development in children. Gamers should maintain good sleep hygiene for a healthy mind and body — and better gaming sessions.
5. Limit monetary spending on games
Game developers may release free versions of a game. Gamers can make in-game purchases to access areas that are usually restricted, unlock new levels, receive unlimited lives, or upgrade characters. Games-related spending includes one-off purchases known as microtransactions for additional upgrades like more power or lives. Long-term subscriptions include a monthly or annual fee to play. Although it may not seem like much, these costs can certainly add up, especially when the price of equipment like headphones or extra controllers is considered. Parents can use in-game spending to teach children about budgeting and self-discipline. Adult gamers should create a budget and limit their spending on games to avoid having to make financial sacrifices elsewhere.
6. Game with friends or other people
Gaming does not have to be lonely — it can be a social event and provides opportunities to meet people from all over the world. Gamers automatically have something in common, which makes it easier to break the ice and get talking to people. It also gives a sense of belonging to a community and lets gamers talk about issues they are facing, common interests, or improving their gaming skills. Moreover, gaming buddies can help keep us accountable by reminding us of our time limits or to take regular breaks.
7. Make friends outside of gaming
Friendship circles outside of gaming are important, too. Aside from giving us encouragement and emotional support when we need it, friends give us opportunities to go out and explore new places. Friendships contribute to our overall well-being by reducing our feelings of loneliness, helping us through stressful times, and holding us accountable for unhealthy lifestyle habits. It is great to surround ourselves with people from a similar background or age group as they can understand our thoughts and feelings. Friends outside of the gaming community give us something else to focus on outside gaming and remind us that there is a world beyond our screens.
8. Have a hobby outside of gaming
Too much of a good thing can get tiresome after a while, and gaming is no exception. Alongside taking regular breaks, having hobbies outside of gaming can help us relax and alleviate stress. Hobbies also encourage us to socialize and meet new people while doing things we love. Through hobbies, we can become more confident and creative, giving us an added sense of accomplishment outside the gaming world.
9. Remember to have fun
Gaming should be fun and interactive. If it starts to feel more like a chore, it may be time to step back, take a break, or take on a new hobby. Although reaching new levels or beating friends at a game can be rewarding, we should play for fun, too. Taking ourselves too seriously can be stressful and lead to gaming burnout, so it is important to take regular breaks, experience life, and have fun away from the screen.
10. Recognize gaming addiction and learn to seek help
Gaming addictions can be challenging to address because there is an added social benefit to playing games. It is easy to pass off an addiction as spending time with friends or doing something we love. However, having strong self-awareness is key to recognizing addiction. If friends or family mention our excessive gaming habits, or if we choose to pick up our controller rather than sleeping or spending time with others, it may be time to ask ourselves whether or not our gaming habits are healthy. Excessive gaming can impact mental health, and it is important to reach out to loved ones or professionals if we suspect an addiction.
Gaming is a fun way to blow off steam or relax after a long day at work or school. Playing games can enhance creativity and encourage teamwork or problem-solving skills. However, gamers should know their limits and implement boundaries to avoid gaming becoming more than a fun hobby. By placing time limits or having a separate gaming space, gamers can create space between their daily life and the virtual world. Having hobbies outside the gaming circle also contributes to our overall well-being, while friends can recognize signs of gaming addictions or declining mental health. Gaming is supposed to be fun, and maintaining a healthy gaming life balance can make it even more enjoyable.
Jeni is a translator and writer based in Taiwan. She is passionate about business development and loves helping companies enter international markets. She is fluent in English, German, and Mandarin Chinese, and combines these with her industry experience to provide practical market entry solutions.