This is tough.
You’re trapped inside your home all day.
You haven’t seen your family and friends in what feels like forever.
Maybe you lost your job.
Or missed out on your graduation ceremony.
And did you even get a hug since this all started?
COVID-19 has affected all of us in one way or the other. Fear, worry and stress are normal responses when faced with uncertainty. Everybody reacts differently to stressful situations. Changes in sleep or eating patterns. Difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Worsening of mental health conditions.
As gamers, we are staying in more due to physical distancing. We are most likely to be gaming more.
Everyone needs emotional support at the best of times. That’s why, as part of Mental Health Awareness month, our team at Adamas Esports reached out to gamers and health professionals in the industry to provide us with their #1 mental health tip.
It is precisely the time, during and in recovery from the pandemic, to lean on each other. We’ve compiled a list from gamers, performance trainers, coaches to CEO’s, in hopes that you can apply some of these tactics to your daily life and more.
1. Marc Merrill
1) Build a real support network IRL. A few deep friendships. Family. Nurture and maintain these forever.
2) Find your Ikigai.
3) Operate from a place of integrity. The world will throw nonsense at you and be unfair. You need to cultivate a sufficient sense of self to get through the best way to get through clouds is through.
4) Take reasonable care of your health. Get exercise. It makes a huge difference.
5) Sleep. It does wonders for your brain and the absence of it wrecks havoc.
6) Find balance between energizing activities and energy draining ones
2. Anders Blum
I have a lot of things I use to try and guide me in whatever direction it is I think I am going in, and to keep myself and my life on track. The problem with converting these into pieces of advice is that I don’t know if you, the reader, is like me. I know you don’t have the same experiences, and I know you will likely have both strengths and weaknesses that I don’t.
I wanted to write this short introduction to explain why I picked this particular piece of advice above anything else, because I truly believe this is the one thing I can be certain, that I do know about you. More specifically, I know what is going on in your mind when you close your eyes and try to sleep. It's that relentless voice, it wants to go over some email that you received that was worded in a way that made you wonder if the person writing it was angry with you. It wants to revisit whatever insecurities or shortcomings you have and very likely, it has been with you so long that you have come to think of that voice as being ‘you’ in some sense. You think that is ‘your voice’. My advice.. No actually my goal is to install a grain of doubt into that assumption. I don’t think that voice is who we are, and I think almost all of our mental health problems can be traced back to this voice and how most of us never even considered whether it was worth listening to the constant torrent of noise in our own heads. My advice is for you to develop a curiosity about finding an alternative to putting that voice in charge of your life.
3. Edgar Chekera
Re-adjusting your goals doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Adaptability is the key to your success not perfection.
4. Dr. Lauren McBride
Registered Psychologist and Mental Performance Consultant
The current uncertainty in the world can lead us to experience stress, anxiety, fear, and to feel a lack of control over the future. Attending to mental health is even more important now, in the face of this uncertainty. One way to begin is by paying attention to how you feel – right now, in this moment. Just the simple act of being mindful builds self awareness and allows you to take steps to support your own mental health and well being.
As competitors, you train hard and compete even harder. You have likely achieved success from pushing your own limits, whether that is physically, emotionally or psychologically.
Sometimes this success can come at the expense of taking the time to check in with yourself and be aware of how you are feeling in the moment.
One thing you do have control over is choosing to practice mindfulness and learn to recognize your needs in the moment. Ask yourself “how I am doing, right now, and what do I need?”
Identify the steps you can take to care for yourself. Whether that is taking a nap, having a snack, or connecting with someone else - this will improve your wellbeing and in turn your performance as a gamer.
5. Hantao Yuan
My advice is to keep busy. Now that there’s so much time at home, it’s finally time to learn the skill or talent or hobbies that there was never time for. Whether it’s learning to play an instrument, learning how to sing, or just working out.
6. Tim Cho
I think the quarantine’s a great period of time for aspiring pros and current pros to refine their play. But I think it's equally important to make sure they're taking breaks, getting sunlight, and putting time and attention in their support system, especially in these socially-restricting times.
7. Louie Limas
"Stop comparing yourself. Create goals based on your values, pursue them, and accomplish them. If your goal was to get at least a B on a test, then it is irrelevant if someone else got an A."
8. Robert Yip
Mental Health Awareness month isn’t just about picking people up that are at their lowest. It’s about shining a light on the fact that everyone is going through something, especially now. It’s about looking after yourself, looking out for those closest to you. Sometimes it’s those that don’t ask for help that need it most. #BreaktheSilence #BreaktheStigma
9. Jared Bakonyi
To anyone reading this, I encourage you to reach out into your local gaming communities and meet others who share your love for the games you do. Friends I’ve met from a Super Smash Bros. tournament are now brothers I go to concerts with or confide in on dark days. Let them uplift you and give you the energy to better yourself. Gaming, somewhat ironically, served as a crutch for me in a year where I worked myself to my limit to gain 60 pounds of healthy weight in a push to bulk up and become healthier! By allowing yourself to enjoy the medium and working to maintain balance in your life you can stabilize your mental health in a way that is sustainable--by building long term friendships that will push you to better yourself and the people around you. I felt that in spades this past year when my pet project, Play With Heart, raised $12,500 through our Super Smash Bros. community for Canadian mental health initiatives. Opportunities like those bring everything back full circle.
Three things that I do every day that support my mental state:
1 - Give/get lots of hugs. There's legit science around hugging and how it affects the chemicals in your body
2 - Exercise in some form daily. Sometimes that's just a walk around the block.
3 - Cheer myself on for little accomplishments throughout the day. It really builds your self-esteem and positive attitude to take small moments to celebrate getting things done, even little stuff.
11. Drew Schwartz
12. Sarah Crowe
“Knowing that you’re not alone in the struggles you may be facing can feel really empowering. There’s no shame in seeking professional help and you don’t have to “be sick” to be eligible! Reaching out for support can teach you the valuable tools to help manage your mental health in a way that’s right for you. Lots of people know how to look after their bodies, but looking after your mind is equally as important.”
14. Triumph Supplements
Show compassion to yourself as you would a friend. Cheer yourself on as you would a friend. Be your own cheerleader. You would never yell at a friend for making a mistake why do that to yourself.
15. Joey Nubzy
One thing I would say is really important (especially right now) is not being afraid to break out of routine. As gamers and competitors we have a very strict routine we usually have to abide by. But sometimes going outside, exercising, or changing any small things about daily life, can really help add a new and positive spin on things.
16. Chris Rodolico
In regards to providing one tip for optimal mental health from a physical therapist, that’s easy: Recovery. Recovery, recovery, recovery!
You are going to (rightfully) hear about the immense benefits of physical activity on the psyche; however, it’s equally important for athletes to understand that improvements and “gains” primarily occur during the recovery cycle. Gamers are notorious for participating in scheduled 4, 6, 8 hour scrim days, followed immediately by returning home and grinding out ladder matches in their respective games. The lack of both physical and mental break, in addition to the prolonged screen time, can have numerous detrimental effects, including deficits in an individual’s ability to retain information, grow in motor abilities, maintain optimal sleep quality, and establish novel physical and mental patterns, which will ultimately impair overall performance and lead to premature burnout.
Just as conventional athletes struggled (and continue to, pending the environment) to find the proper balance of work and rest, gamers in this early stage of established esports face the challenge to “go where no man has gone before” regarding esports performance. As healthcare and wellness professionals, it is our duty to change the belief that “more is better.” At the risk of receiving an “okay boomer” response, it’s important to remember that practice doesn’t make perfect - perfect practice makes better. By taking optimal breaks, reflecting on previous sessions, and utilizing mental imagery away from the screen, gamers will find themselves with more energy, greater focus, and an overall better mental state.
17. Elliot Smithson
“Contrary to popular belief, daily exercise actually has a huge impact on mood and is even linked with decreasing symptoms of depression.”
18. Jason Docton
Perhaps the greatest single effort I've seen towards good mental health at this time is creating and maintaining a schedule. We're living through a time of chaos, where the tethers that bound us to some sense of normalcy have become loose; thus, our days become less defined, and to some degree, we feel less defined. Having a time that we wake up, scheduling when we eat and setting ourselves up for success by having a bedtime goes a long way towards giving our life the structure it needs right now.
19. Kevin Wallace
The hardest aspect of any career or passion, where being "the best" is your goal, is finding Balance.
Whether it is making sure to set aside time to plan out your routine, or spending time with family/friends, balance is key. We often find ourselves over-committing to one area of life or another, either because we enjoy it more or due to the stress of perceived priorities. Make sure that you are taking time at either the beginning or end of your week (or both) to plan out how your time is being spent.
This doesn't have to be done religiously, the point is to ensure you are taking time to prevent burnout and you are prioritizing your Mental Health!
20. Dr. Doug Gardner
Now is the perfect time to assess your strengths and weaknesses and purposefully work on areas you can improve upon. Some examples are strategic, technical and tactical improvement, hero/champion pool diversification and emotional regulation.
21. Skyler Johnson
Take a break, get up and walk around. So many times I would find myself not doing this and trying to make sure to take advantage of each minute of the day without paying attention to my mental health. Your eyes and brain will thank you later.
22. Jerrad Guenther
There are 3 things that I try to incorporate each day to maintain my mental health: getting active, eating well and being social with the people you care about.
23. Nicholas Ridgeway
Something that a lot of gamers don’t consider is the mental strain gaming and competing can take on you. A lot of you have heard the term “burnout” in some form or another. While maybe not a lot of you consider burnout a serious thing, if you are striving to be the next pro esports athlete, preventing burnout is something that needs to be taken seriously.
I am the winningest coach in console esports history with 21 major championships under my belt. I have been coaching for about 5 years. One of the major factors that I believe has led to this success for myself and my team is our attentiveness towards the topic of burnout. So here are my tips to help you prevent this extra mental strain on yourself.
- Schedule your life
- Give yourself time for school, work, relaxation, friends & family along with your gaming practices. You don’t need to practice 7 days a week, days off to mentally reset are important for mental health.
- Take breaks
- A lot of people try to “push through the pain” so to speak. This may work for a few people but not for everyone. Picture your brain as a muscle at the gym that you are exercising by practicing. You don’t try to lift more than your maximum at the gym and you take breaks at the gym. This applies to your brain as well.
- Breaks will help you process any learning and growth you gained through your practices.
- Divide gaming time between casual play and true practice
- Anyone can sit down and play the game. I can casually jog out onto a field and catch a ball. But an NFL player is running routes and practicing actual plays. Treat gaming the same way. Sit down with a growth objective. Treat it with the intensity that you would in a tournament. Rest and repeat
- Enjoy yourself!
- At the end of the day, gaming should be fun. If you don’t have a passion for what you are playing, it will be harder to improve and you will get burned out much faster if not immediately.
It’s safe to say that everyone has been affected by COVID-19 in some sort of way - be it our social or economical stances. Everybody reacts differently to stressful situations, and for us gamers, during this time we can experience excessive burnout, stress and loneliness. As gamers, we are spending our time and staying in more due to physical distancing, and are most likely to be gaming more. There are steps and precautions to take both our physical, and mental health a lot more seriously. We recommend picking one of the above strategies and try putting it into practice today.
Be kind to yourself, as it will take time.
If you want more, here are some useful resources: