Touch Grass: Harmonize Your Gaming and Real Life

Very few IRL experiences can match up to the grandeur and fast-paced nature of open-world games and first-person shooters. Life is simply more exciting when you’re Lara Croft, Nathan Drake, or the Durge

Gaming can be a great way to socialize, too. It’s far easier to meet up with friends on a Friday night from the comfort of your own home and you can kick back for free while playing multiplayer titles like Overwatch 2 and Fortnite

However, too much of a good thing is always perilous. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get sucked into a good game and lose touch with the real world. While this is ok for the occasional evening, some experts suggest that gaming to excess may lead to an addiction that could undermine your progression IRL. 

Gaming Disorder 

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) recently revised its definition of gaming disorder as an addiction and characterized the disorder as: 

  • A persistent pattern of gaming behavior,
  • Impaired control over gaming behavior,
  • Increasing priority given to gaming
  • Behavior is recurrent over a number of weeks or months
  • Results in significant distress or damage to a person’s social, professional, family, or educational life. 

Gaming disorder isn’t a particularly new phenomenon, either. Researchers have noted that gamers have been obsessed with their games since the 1980s. This underlines the pervasive nature of gaming disorder and the potentially addictive qualities of video games themselves. 

It is, however, important to note that turning down a social event or skipping a family meal to game with your buddies doesn’t represent a disorder. Being passionate about a new game or a multiplayer mission is a good thing. That said, things can take a turn for the worse when you’re suddenly unable to switch off and make responsible decisions about how much you want to play. 

Finding Fulfillment IRL 

If you suspect you have a gaming disorder, you should reach out to a mental health professional who can help break your addiction and avoid the temptation to play all day, every day. Working with a mental health professional is particularly important if you suspect that underlying issues are driving you to find refuge in the digital world. 

If you don’t have a gaming disorder but still want to manage your screen time more effectively, you may want to take up some new hobbies that get you out of the house. You can balance your hobbies with gaming and IRL responsibilities by scheduling time for going to the gym, gardening, or book clubs. These engaging hobbies will get you excited about the world beyond the controller and may help you find a better balance in life. 

You can apply these same ideas to balance your gaming hobby, too. For example, if you play online with friends, consider scheduling a particular time of the week to play. This will help you avoid the temptation to log on during the middle of the day, as you know that you’ll have plenty of time to game with buddies later that evening. 

Protecting Your Health 

The perils of gaming are often overstated in mainstream media. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your needs and commit to a hermit-like life of gaming with all your free time. Equally, you should invest some time and energy into making your gaming space into a healthy, oasis-like room that supports your well-being and minimizes your risk of eye strain or poor posture. 

When redesigning your gaming room, consider investing in an air purifier. You spend a lot of time in your gaming room, which may lead to a build-up of condensation, air pollution, and mold. Purifiers pull bacteria and viruses from the air and enhance your overall well-being. This can make a world of difference if you suffer from respiratory illnesses but still want to game for prolonged periods. 

If you do indulge in a day-long session of slaying Bokoblin to save Zelda or netrunning in Cyberpunk 2077, make sure you take regular breaks to take care of your health. Set an hour-timer on repeat and be sure to drink water, walk around, stretch, and eat while on a gaming break. This approach is far healthier than marathon gaming with blinkers on and may even help you get more from the game you’re playing. You’re far less likely to skip through cinematic scenes when you’re feeling fresh and will solve those shrine puzzles much quicker when you’re hydrated. 

Gaming is a great way to engage with new ideas, experience unimaginable worlds, and strengthen your relationship with your spouse. However, if you can’t put the controller down, you may be at risk of developing a gaming disorder. 

Rather than risking an addiction, find harmony in gaming and real life by engaging in hobbies that take you away from the screen. This will help you schedule your free time and minimize the risk of gaming interfering with your sleep cycle. When you do sit down to do some serious gaming, take regular breaks to rehydrate and mentally reset.  

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