10 ways players can improve their health, wellbeing and performance
There are many benefits that esports can provide for individuals, but how can players maximise their potential?
In this guide, we look at some of the ways that esports players can work to promote positive wellbeing, stay healthy, and have the best performance possible.
1. Stay hydrated:
The NHS states that it is recommended that you ‘drink at least 6-8 glasses of clear fluids a day’ in order to stay properly hydrated.
Water is your best bet for making sure you are hydrated, but you can and also have things like squash and sugar free drinks.
By ensuring you drink lots of the correct fluids, you will prevent dehydration and the effects that come from it. Dehydration can significantly impair your gaming abilities, as well as your attention span – so ensuring that you remain hydrated will allow you to stay focused.
2. Eating healthy:
Whilst the crisps, chocolates and snacks seem very appealing whilst you’re on the competitive grind, it can be having more of an impact on your performance than you may think.
Ensuring you stick to a balanced diet, and making sure you get the necessary vitamins and nutrients, can improve concentration and cognitive functions – which will allow you to perform better.
However, there is no exact structure to a balanced diet for an esports player, so it is down to the player to look into what is best for them, and potentially work with performance coaches and nutritionists.
3. Move away from your setup to eat:
It may be tempting to spend every waking moment at your setup to maximise your practice time, but this can be very detrimental on your mental health in the long run.
Giving yourself time to relax and reset away from your workspace promotes positive wellbeing, and allows you to take time to focus on yourself outside of that gaming environment.
Moving to somewhere else to eat is also a good thing to incorporate into routine – as having this time blocked out to move around and stretch will significantly benefit your physical health, as well as your mental wellbeing.
You don’t have to train like an Olympian, but making sure you get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day will improve mental and physical wellbeing.
Sitting for a long time can increase your cortisol levels (the hormone that controls your blood sugar levels, and regulates metabolism), and make you feel stressed. By doing light exercise, you can reduce your cortisol levels, and thus reduce your stress that you have built up from gaming.
Also, just giving yourself a block of time to go for a short walk, go to the gym, or even do some yoga, can make a world of difference.
5. Take regular breaks:
On the subject of taking time away to reset, making sure you take frequent breaks to move away from your setup. By giving yourself time to relax and do something other than gaming, you can prevent burnout, and reinforce a positive routine for yourself.
In these breaks, you can use the time to learn new skills, and hone in on existing areas; expanding your skill set both in and out of game to make you an all-rounded player.
Take this time to also spend moments with friends and family, and keep yourself connected to loved ones.
6. Get a good night’s sleep:
It’s sort of a given, but if you don’t get enough sleep, you are going to struggle to maintain performance throughout the day. Without proper rest, you will struggle to maintain focus, and your decision making may be affected also.
It is best to aim for 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night (for over 18’s) – so those all-nighters may not be the best way for you to practise.
By giving yourself ample time to recover after a day of practice, you are more likely to have improved reflexes, better strategic thinking, and positive mental wellbeing.
7. Don’t rely on caffeine:
Gamers and caffeine are known to go hand in hand, but energy drinks or ‘gamer fuel’ are not your best option if you want to optimise performance.
Alex Davies, Head of Performance at Resolve, said: “If you are to drink caffeine, try to stop 6-8 hours before you are planning to go to bed and try to stay away from Red Bull, Gamer Fuel, and Monster. instead go for the green teas and the coffees.”
Consuming food and drink products that are high in caffeine and sugar can give you that boost you need to stay alert, but in the long term it can increase anxiety and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Try to avoid having caffeinated products too regularly, as it can seriously impact your performance over time, and cause more problems for you in the long run.
8. Go outside:
Yes, people joke all the time about going to touch grass, but taking time to embrace the outdoors can be really positive for your mental wellbeing.
Being sat at a desk inside all day can get quite tedious, so take the time to go outside for a walk, or go out for a drink and embrace the greenery.
As well as this, getting fresh air and natural light will do wonders for your physical health – giving you time to unwind, rest your eyes and explore the outdoors at the same time.
9. Start the conversation:
Being an esports player can be very stressful, and a lot of people can bottle this up instead of reaching out. By starting the conversation and talking to people about any struggles you may have, it can make a world of difference.
Mental health is very important to keep positive, especially for esports players, so highlighting problems with close friends or family can relieve any stress that comes along with the career.
Esports is a positive avenue, and has helped many people maintain a positive mental wellbeing, so be sure to take the time to reach out if you ever feel like things become too much.
10. Take a step back:
Whilst this might be your livelihood as a player, it is easy to forget that it is just a video game, and you can take a step back whenever you feel necessary.
Yes, being a professional player takes it all to a whole new level, but to ensure you maintain good performances and positive mental wellbeing don’t let it defeat you if you make a mistake or lose a game.
It can be devastating to lose a title match, however holding yourself accountable will only provide opportunities for your wellbeing to plummet. Stay calm, learn from your mistakes and try again next time.
This is only a brief guide on how you can stay healthy and positive as an esports player, but for more information you can check out this article by Dr Atheeshaan Arumuham (Gaming the Mind).