We all enjoy a good gaming session late into the night, trying to complete a level, raid a dungeon or rank up in a MOBA. But spending your time gaming instead of other aspects of life could make you struggle to spend time on the more ‘boring’ things like chores and tidying, Whilst also overlooking friendships and ignoring your body and mental health.
There is no reason that you can’t combine gaming with healthier habits. So let’s take a look at seven of the best ways you can find a good balance between gaming and a healthy life.
1) Set time limits
You can completely lose yourself in a game, don’t worry…we’ve been there too (The Sims is just too addicting sometimes!)
In order to develop better boundaries with the time you spend on a game, you should try to become more aware of how long some games can last by researching or making a quick post-it note of it on your desk or laptop. Use your phone to set a timer if you are struggling with playing past the time limit you (or your parents) have set.
Or when you need to focus on other things (like homework, exam revision or chores), choose to play games that can be easily paused. While we know that some games can’t be paused (games like Apex Legends, Valorant and Rocket League), there are others that you can easily pick up, play and put down whenever suits you (games like Stardew Valley, The Sims, Pokemon and Planet Coaster come to mind).
2) Schedule your time
When things are getting busy or you are in the middle of exam season, you may want to start planning your time with a schedule. This could be using the good ol’ fashioned pen and paper, or using an app on your phone.
By being aware of when new games are releasing, you could schedule time in advance of the release date and make sure no plans crossover with you playing the new video game.
In the short term, there is a time management technique called the Pomodoro Technique. This was developed in the 1980s as a way to schedule your time. It consists of breaking your time into 25 minutes in length, separated by 5 minute short breaks. Hey, you could use that for studying too!
3) Play with other people
Sometimes, playing with friends will help you develop better time management as one or more of them will stop playing at an appropriate time. But, this does depend on relying on friends who are good with this sort of thing, as it could be harder to switch off the game if everyone is staying up and still playing!
If your parents are telling you that you are spending too much time playing video games, you could invite them to play with you? Not only would this be a nice experience for you both – but it may help them understand how these games work better, and the best time to step away from them.
4) Set boundaries
If you are finding yourself always playing games and ignoring other important things in your life, maybe you should start setting boundaries, or ask a parent, guardian or close friend to help you do this.
Some people you ask may reply with advice that feels drastic, but you know yourself better than anyone, so do what works best for you.
The key word here throughout this whole article is finding the right balance for you. Balance time with your family and loved ones, time you need for work/school and time you need for yourself.
And very importantly….
5) Don’t forget to sleep!
One of the most important things in keeping yourself happy, healthy and enjoying yourself is to get a good night’s sleep. While we’ve written about this before, maintaining a good sleep schedule is one of the best ways to look after yourself.
It’s also good to remember that looking at a screen right before bed can affect your brain cycle, keeping you awake for longer and ruining the quality of your sleep. It is recommended that you turn off any screens 1 to 2 hours before going to bed. Although using apps like F.lux or the features on your mobile phones that dim or adjust the screen light after sunset can help this.
But why is sleep so important? The NHS says that one in three suffers from poor sleep. That may not seem like too much of a big deal, but not sleeping enough can lead to:
- Poor memory
- Lack of concentration
- Ongoing anxiety
Let’s be honest, you need your body and mind to be at their best in order to enjoy and succeed at the games you want to play.
6) Do things other than gaming
It sounds obvious and cliche, but too much of one thing is never good. You can easily get bored of something you enjoy when you do it all the time because it starts to feel repetitive.
Gaming burnout is a real thing. Gaming should be fun, not a chore you feel like you have to do because it’s made you happy in the past. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break. So, take a break, chase other hobbies and play games again when you feel inspired to.
Make sure you plan to spend time socialising with your friends and family away from a screen. We promise it’ll be good for you and you’ll enjoy your time gaming just as much when you go back to it.
Looking for ways to chill out away from your keyboard or controller? Here are 101 different ways to relax.
7) Play for fun
Some of you may want to become professional esport players in the future, or you just want to be better than your mates at Call of Duty, gaming can become a serious business. While watching the best tips and tricks and the current meta is time well spent because it is something you are interested in, sometimes it’s nice to play games just for fun rather than needing to always get better!
It’s all about finding a good balance between taking it seriously and try-hard, while also enjoying yourself. Most importantly, if it stops being fun, then stop playing it for a bit. You’ll re-find the love of the game after a break.
These are just some of the ways to balance your time better between gaming and ‘real-life’. Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know on our anonymous community’s gaming section here.
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This article is part of our #GamersUnite series. Visit the hub for more advice, tips and ways to support other gamers.