Video games are more popular than ever, with new technology opening the doors to new and exciting gameplay virtually every week. As fun as gaming can be, experts say this activity is highly addictive and can take control of your life if you’re not careful. I say anything addictive can be used as a tool for motivating and balancing your life.

Play Video Games Responsibly

Never be afraid of addictive activities — just use them for your best good. Take video games — merely balance your life, responsibilities, and wellbeing using them as a weight on the other end of the spectrum.

For sure, you don’t have to ditch your games for good. Instead, you’ll want to learn how to control yourself and glean the best aspects of gaming. Here are a few tips for becoming a responsible gamer so that you can enjoy your game time without disrupting your overall productivity:

Stick to a Gaming Schedule

The first step toward healthy gaming is developing a schedule and sticking to it. A schedule is a particularly important step for remote workers who might feel more tempted to log onto a game during work hours. Of course, a gaming schedule should restrict the amount of time you spend on electronics but still leave enough time for you to unwind and have fun.

For example, an hour of game time on weekday nights is enough time to relax after work without taking up your entire evening. You’ll still have time to do some chores around the house, eat dinner, exercise, and even run a few errands as needed. When the weekend rolls around, you can allow yourself some extra game time, but still limit yourself so you can spend time on at least a couple of more productive activities.

If you need longer time — not a problem — just set your time before you begin and stick to the cut-off time.

Make Video Games an Incentive

Treating video games as a reward rather than a necessity helps push you to accomplish more productive things with your day before plugging in. This approach is popular for parents raising children, but you can easily implement it in your own life.

For kids, video game time is often earned by completing a chore list or doing well in school. So why not do the same for yourself? Don’t sit down to boot up a game until you’ve earned your time by finishing the laundry or unloading the dishwasher. Each activity can earn you a certain amount of video game time, so you have to earn your downtime.

But let’s get real — sometimes, for whatever reason, your game is a necessity. Okay — a necessity — but get your other stuff done first and then do what you have to for your game.

Add in Some Physical Exercise

If you sit at a desk for eight full hours just to sit in front of the TV for another three, your body is going to have a difficult time either now or later. Exercise not only helps you keep your figure, but it provides energy, fights off disease, and can even make you feel more content. Inserting some physical exercise into your gameplay will make video games fit your lifestyle so much better.

Let’s say you’re playing a multiplayer game that cycles through 15-minute matches. In between each game that you play, do a couple of exercises. You can even use it as an incentive. For example, do ten push-ups and ten sit-ups if you win the match, but do 20 of each every time you lose.

If you enjoy playing single-player games, you’ll have to be a bit more proactive with this. Consider setting a 15-minute timer on your phone to indicate when it’s time to do a little exercise. Since most single-player games can be paused at any point, this should be more than possible no matter your game of choice.

Play With Friends

Why play alone when you can play with friends? Some studies show that playing video games with friends can actually make you feel happier. It’s a great way to socialize, especially over long distances.

When playing video games, try to make time for games with friends. You’ll continue developing social skills and making new friends and memories just as if you were hanging out in real life. If you don’t have friends that play the same games as you, give online communities a try. There are plenty of social media groups full of people looking to make new connections playing their favorite titles.

Try Out New Games

There are a lot of mind-numbing games out there that can take the stress off of you for a few minutes, or they can trick your stress response thoughts into getting out of a loop. But some of the games do little more than waste your time. Just be aware of which response you are expecting to get out of your game.

Sometimes it’s nice to turn off your brain for a while, but video games can be so much better than that. Give some new games a try in an attempt to challenge your mind while you play. Some coworkers found an incredible retail store not far from the office where we can go on our lunch hour or after work and learn some new games. The owner is amazing — he even runs games and competitions out of his shop at night.

Find yourself a new game, new gamers to share experiences with, and a new place, where you can up your skills with something that will add to your life.

There are hundreds of educational games even for adults these days. There are plenty of puzzle and strategy games you can try on for size. These types of games test your critical thinking and decision-making, which are also valuable skills in real-world situations.

Monitor Your Emotions

Video games are meant to be fun, so don’t allow yourself to be too competitive while playing them. When the losses start to rack up, some gamers get angry and upset — bench yourself if you take this action. Train yourself well to keep your vid games as a form of entertainment. Getting mad at games is the opposite of being productive, so monitoring your emotions is a crucial part of gaming responsibly.

If you’re stuck on a particularly difficult puzzle or find yourself getting visibly upset at online teammates, you need the self-control to take a step back. Of course, it helps to have another task to turn your attention to in times like these. Using your Calendar, you can come up with your evening to-do lists that will give you an escape from frustrating gameplay should you need to put down the controller early.

Playing video games responsibly will help you enjoy life a whole lot more. You’ll be able to play to your heart’s content without letting gaming habits get in the way of daily productivity and personal health and wellbeing.

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