by Dakota Cool, ATC

At the end of a long shift or busy workday, leaving time for our bodies to recharge is vital for the next day’s work. Regular physical activity can do wonders for the human body, but let’s not neglect our mental health as well! When our brains need charging, the benefits of having a hobby that brings us joy are innumerable. For myself and many others, booting up a video game at the end of the day to unwind is a guilty pleasure, but is a great way to stimulate our minds and relieve stress.

Leveling Up

The beauty of video games is the wide variety that are available today. There’s something for everyone! There are games to help us plan and strategize, which require focus and attention to detail. Other games are designed to help us relax and ‘zone out,’ which can be equally important. Some games require us to connect virtually with others, fulfilling the human desire to interact with others but that might otherwise be problematic due to real life commitments and schedules. Video games incentivize goal setting and provide a sense of accomplishment when we level up, complete missions, or break records.

When To Hit Pause and Reset

We all know you can have too much of a good thing. Video games are no different. Whether it’s a night of binge watching your favorite show or playing video games, a lack of sleep has a negative impact on our well-being.

A consistent sleeping schedule is vital to regulating our mood and the most important time for our bodies to recover. Exposure to blue light and mental stimulation right before bed make it difficult to fall asleep. (This applies to us scrolling through our phones in bed before sleep too!) Sleep loss will make us feel drowsy the following day, placing us and fellow industrial athletes at risk. Losing sleep eliminates the benefits our video game hobby provides in the first place.

The Right Strategy

Setting boundaries for ourselves is important so as not to impact other areas of our lives. Here are a few ways we can reduce the risk of unwanted negative effects.

Take breaks during your gaming session to stand up, stretch and evaluate your posture.

Ensure you have water nearby to stay hydrated, while you immerse yourself in a virtual world.

Set a timer or alarm to prevent losing track of time and improve the amount and quality of sleep you will have.

Play with others! Co-op play helps improve social skills, reduces loneliness, and makes gaming a more enjoyable and shared experience.

Balance is the key in so many aspects of our life, and finding that can take time. However, finding that balance and creating an outlet for a mental recharge creates a healthy space between our work and personal lives.

Dakota Cool, ATC || Dakota is a certified athletic trainer located in the Portland Metro area. He has cared for collegiate athletes and fit durable medical equipment to people in need before transitioning to the industrial setting. Besides settling in with a video game, Dakota enjoys supporting Portland’s professional soccer clubs, wrangling his four pets, or enjoying some Ramen or Spam Musubi.

Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips for the industrial athlete from Work Right NW!