If you’re a passionate or competitive gamer, it’s understandable that you might experience negative emotions when you’re having a bad time in a game (or when you’re burnt out but keep gaming anyway.) Regardless of whether you like to play online casino games, fill your time with strategy titles or go toe to toe with other players in online shooting games, you might struggle to keep your mental state in check when you play. As with everything, there can be positives and negatives to gaming.
We’ve put together this guide to help gamers keep a healthy frame of mind and find a good balance between what’s happening on the screen and in real life. If you ever feel the need to help recenter yourself, follow these seven tips to improve your mental health.
1. Write down your feelings in a journal
If you’re struggling with negative thoughts or emotions, it may help to let your feelings out in a journal.
By jotting down your thoughts regularly, you’ll find you can reduce stress, keep a lid on your anxiety levels and improve how you manage depression. Of course, if you prefer to keep things in the 21st century, there are plenty of note-taking and journaling apps for your smartphone. Do some research and find one that works for you. You may also be surprised by what you get out of re-reading what you’ve written. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
The University of Rochester’s article Journaling for mental health offers these tips to help you start journaling:
Try to write every day
Set aside a few minutes every day to write – this will help you make journaling a habit.
Make it easy
Keep a pen and paper handy at all times. Then when you want to write down your thoughts, you can. You can also keep a journal on your smartphone.
Write or draw whatever feels right
Your journal doesn’t need to follow a structure. It’s your private place to discuss and create whatever you want to help express your feelings. Let the words and ideas flow freely. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes or what other people might think.
Use your journal as you see fit
You don’t have to share your journal with anyone. If you do want to share some of your thoughts with trusted friends and loved ones, you could show them parts of your journal.
2. Do regular exercise
While it may be tempting to just sit on your couch or chair all day and play games such as the top online slot machines, a lack of exercise can negatively affect your well-being. A study titled ‘Exercise for mental health’ (published in the journal The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry) discusses the benefits that physical activities like aerobic exercises such as jogging, swimming and walking (and others) can have on mental health. It found that you were likely to see the following improvements:
- Lower levels of anxiety
- Reduced depression
- Improved mood
- Better cognitive function
Regular exercise also reduces the knock-on effects of these negative emotions, such as poor self-esteem and social withdrawal. Be sure to include easy at-home regular exercises before or after you play casino games for optimal focus.
This is good news, but what makes it even better is you don’t need to sign up for an expensive gym membership to take advantage of these benefits – you only need 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise a week to see an uptick. This could be as easy as a single brisk walk for 30 minutes or three shorter 10-minute walks spread over a few days. Your pace should be enough to feel you’ve got your blood flowing! Naturally, you can do more than that to improve your overall fitness as long as you’re careful and don’t overdo it.
3. Eat the right foods
Many of us have heard the phrase “healthy body, healthy mind.” While this certainly applies to exercise, it’s also important to consider what you eat. This extract from the Harvard Health Blog article, Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food, highlights one of the key roles that food (and your gut) play in maintaining your mental health:
“Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods and inhibit pain. Since about 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions. What’s more, the function of these neurons — and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin — is highly influenced by the billions of ‘good’ bacteria that make up your intestinal microbiome.”
While scientists have acknowledged the role food has in affecting a person’s mood, it’s still a fairly new field of study, so the jury’s still out on some of the finer details. Consider a Mediterranean-style diet, which consists predominantly of fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seafood and olive oil, a moderate amount of poultry, eggs, cheese, yogurt and rarely any red meat. Other highly processed foods, such as sodas, processed meat and refined grains are off the table. Try switching up what you eat and see the effect on your overall life and when you play the best casino games.
4. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
While it may be tempting to squeeze in one more game late at night, especially when you’re learning how to play casino card games, you should be careful if you’re sacrificing much-needed sleep. The National Institute of Health’s article, How disrupted sleep may lead to heart disease, explains how sleep is vital for maintaining your physical health. Good-quality sleep can reduce the risk of inflammation, heart disease and stroke.
Sleep also helps you maintain your mental wellness, as covered in WebMD’s article, Surprising reasons to get more sleep. Getting enough sleep will provide you with a better-functioning brain and also help improve your mood. Not only will your brain be in a better place to handle negative feelings, but it’ll also improve your focus and memory – two vital tools for gaming! So if you like to play online slots or other games of chance late at night, make sure you’re not losing sleep over them!
5. Practice meditation
While this may seem a bit ‘out there’ for some readers, there’s absolutely no doubt that meditation, or the training of attention and awareness, can improve your mental health. Healthline.com has put together an article highlighting 12 of these benefits. It is aptly titled 12 Science-based benefits of meditation.
Here are the benefits the piece discusses:
- Reduces stress
- Controls anxiety
- Promotes emotional health
- Enhances self-awareness
- Lengthens attention span
- May reduce age-related memory loss
- Can generate kindness
- May help fight addictions
- Improves sleep
- Helps control pain
- Can decrease blood pressure
- Accessible anywhere
Meditation can also help you beat cognitive biases for better outcomes with online casino games. If you’re unsure how to meditate, there are many resources you can find online (plus apps for your smartphone) for the many different styles of meditation – be sure to search for a method that works for you.
6. Join a mental health community
If you struggle with your mental health, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Thankfully there are many online communities (like HealthyGamer) and offline groups where one can find support. Consider looking for a group to help you through any difficult times you might be going through.
7. Take a break
One of the easiest tips that you can use is simply to take a break. If you find yourself on tilt, simply step away from whatever game you’re playing and find something else to do. A break will help you calm down and clear your mind of any negative emotions so you can return to the game at another time with a better mindset. This will hopefully improve your performance if you’re playing a skill-based game, but even if you’re playing casually, a relaxed mood will also help remind you that you’re playing these games to have fun!
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