Looking After Your Mental Health at Melbourne International Games Week 2019
Games week is an incredible time for the Australian and New Zealand video games communities. From consumers to developers, academics to journalists; we all come together and celebrate our beloved medium. This is an opportunity to play new games, learn new things and meet new people! Which, of course, can be incredible…and exhausting.
With so much going on over the next 7 days, it’s important to be mindful that events and networking can take their toll. We’re an international non-profit organisation who provide mental health support and resources for the gaming community, and we’re here to help you make the most of your week, whilst maintaining your mental health and wellbeing.
Mindfulness isn’t just meditation – it’s the conscious act of being aware of the present moment without judgement. Some people call it, “checking in”, others call it a body scan – however you feel comfortable, get used to paying attention to yourself. You can do it anywhere, at any time – yes, even in the middle of a conversation.
Listen to your thoughts and be objective. Are you having negative ruminations or worrying about an interaction from two hours ago? Feel your body. Do you have butterflies in your tummy? Are your feet sore? Allow yourself to feel how you feel. Is it anxious, tired, irritable? Are you full of energy or on your last legs?
Get into the habit of doing this often. It could be once a day or once an hour – whatever works for you.
Do something about it!
Remember, however you feel and whatever you find during your mindfulness scan, that’s okay! You may be on top of everything and loving life, or, you might be feeling the pressure. Just know, you haven’t failed and the world will still turn. There are people around to support you, and there are heaps of things you can do to get back on your game.
Feeling overwhelmed and need to calm down fast? Here are some exercises you can do:
- Controlled Breathing: Count to 4 on the way in, and 7 on the way out.
- Play the 5-Things Game: Name five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. This gives your brain something very specific to focus on and helps distract from the distressing feelings.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Focus on the muscles in your toes. Tense them tightly for 5 seconds, and then slowly relax them. Next, move to the muscles of the calf, and do the same thing. Carry on up the body until you’ve used every muscle. This can quickly relieve stress and tension in a physical and emotional way.
- Try our Video Game Grounding Exercises!
- And of course, if you’re at PAX Australia, you can take a breather in the AFK Room – the perfect place to find grounding and regather yourself.
Tips for maintaining a healthy body during the week (because our minds cannot be healthy unless our bodies are)
- If you’re exhibiting or on your feet a lot, make sure you take regular sit-down breaks. These are also a great opportunity for a mindfulness scan.
- Stretch! Even if you’re on your feet and moving around a lot, stretching will improve circulation and promote oxygen flow to the brain, doing wonders for the mind.
- Eat a nourishing breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat some fruit! Drink lots of water and take little snacks in often to keep those fuel reserves up.
- Sleep. This healing rest is so important. If you have an early start, have an early night. Or, if you are keen to stay out and see your friends, then try to cut down on the booze – alcohol actually decreases sleep quality and being drunk stops you from getting into that reparative REM cycle.
- Shower. Not only will your friends and colleagues thank you, it will freshen you up and make you feel better.
Get good at knowing when to stop
- Know the symptoms of burnout. This may help you catch it before it occurs. Some symptoms include: Feeling physically or emotionally exhausted, difficulty concentrating, loss of enjoyment and more. Find out more on our page about burnout.
- Communicate with your friends and colleagues. Let them know what your goals are and what limits you’ll have, then stick to them. If you’re starting to struggle, let them know early!
- Learn to say ‘no’. It’s easy to take on more than we can physically achieve. If you feel like you’re already juggling too much, say no to it.
- Be mindful of your social needs and limits. One of the wonderful things about Games Week is that it brings the entire community together in a physical space. Take advantage by talking to the people around you, have fun, try new things and meet new people. At the same time, be aware that being around others for 48 hours straight can be mentally draining. Make sure you carve out some quiet time away from everyone. This may mean taking a walk, or just finding a quiet space. A five minute break for grounding will improve your productivity on returning to work.
PDF DOWNLOADS AND ARTICLES
- CheckPoint’s Self-Care Guide
- Video Game Grounding Exercises
- Own and Conquer Stress
- The 3-Step Thinking Hack Pack
These will be available for purchase from CheckPoint throughout MIGW! Just hit us up at GCAP (ping the @CheckPointOrg Twitter account to find Pritika!) or at PAX, we’ll be at the CheckPoint booth in the Diversity Lounge or the Child’s Play booth on the show floor.
- The AAA Handbook: a Mental Health Model for Game Developers
- The Coping Companion: a card deck you can use as a personalised wellbeing assistant.