So, you’ve been gaming and streaming for hours now. Maybe you’re sniping enemies, delivering payloads, winning chicken dinners and what-have-you. Suddenly, your throat’s getting a little dry, you feel an imminent headache coming, you feel the pangs of hunger eating away your stomach, you’re a bit dizzy, and—are you seeing things or is that really an Italian plumber hanging on your ceiling fan?
Slow down on the gaming for a sec. As much as you love gaming, it’s important to keep yourself healthy, too. How would you game and stream in the future if you become unhealthy? Checkmate, lazy bums. Don’t let your real life health points deplete because of virtual health points. Here are 10 tips that will help you stay healthy while streaming.
1. Stay hydrated
Don’t underestimate water. Dehydration can cause headaches, and that’s one of the last things you want while staring at a bright screen. It can also affect your vision perception and psychomotor ability—imagine losing a game because you didn’t drink water. Yikes.
Sure, you hate the occasional trip to the toilet, but unless you’re willing to wear diapers that’s just one of the things you have to put up with water. Is that really so bad?
Have a jug or pitcher of water with you when you’re streaming for long periods of time. Remember to take a chug every now and then and you should be good.
Vision perception and psychomotor ability: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
Also check out https://www.twitch.tv/stay_hydrated_bot for friendly reminders!
2. Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals is another thing some people do whenever they get too into their games. While it’s cool and all that you’re very dedicated to your game, and I’m sure your teammates or viewers appreciate it, your body needs fuel, too. You might also develop some stomach or weight problems if you’re not careful.
When you’re about to do multiple hours of streaming, eat before starting and prepare some snacks that you can easily munch on while playing. Healthy options are fruits and nuts, but let’s not kid ourselves—we know it’s gonna be potato chips. If you hate the flavoring and food coloring getting on your fingers (like the dreaded Cheeto dust), you might want to use chopsticks to pick up the chip instead. Clean hands equal clean keyboard and mouse.
3. Maintain proper posture
I’m not gonna nag at you for slouching, but you gotta have proper posture, especially if you’re streaming for a long time. Improper posture can strain your back and can cause all sorts of pain and discomfort in the long run, not to mention getting back and spine problems.
For starters, make sure your chair doesn’t let you have a bad posture. You can research and shop around for an ergonomic chair that will help your back, but be wary of chairs that have style over purpose instead. Also, one chair might be perfect for one gamer but it may not be for you, so don’t go rushing on buying what the pros are sitting on and make sure the chair is actually comfortable for you.
Don’t forget about your wrists, too. You’ve been clicking and moving your mouse for too long, not to mention abusing your wrists for other things. Here’s a video from a doctor on how to exercise your hands and wrists. There’s also a handy infographic of it made by a Reddit user.
Proper posture: http://www.drleviharrison.com/proper-keyboard-placement-in-gaming/
Improper posture: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/common-posture-mistakes-and-fixes/
Ergonomic chair: https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/office/chair.html
4. Take breaks to stand up, walk, and stretch
Sitting too long can lead to a myriad of health problems, and it just feels too uncomfortable after some time. Get up, walk around a bit, and do some stretching to relieve your muscles and bones from too much sitting. Your body will thank you.
You can even make a game out of this with your viewers, like asking them what simple exercises or dances you can do. You can also try video games that make you up and about.
Too much sitting: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1050641112001721
5. Take care of your eyes
If possible, and I know this is a big if for a lot of gamers, rest your eyes every now and then. I know current trends are pretty big on multiple-hour streaming, even lasting for a day or more, but the strain that you’re doing to your eyes while staring at your screen for long periods of time can affect your eyes in the long run.
A short eye break after an hour or so, maybe for 5 minutes or less, while closing your eyes or staring at a distance should be okay. You can also do the 20-20-20 break: every 20 minutes, pause your game and take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away.
If you’re using glasses, it will immensely help if the lenses have a coating that can help protect your eyes from the glare and blue light of your screen. You can also use a program that can block blue light in your computer screen.
Blue light: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
20-20-20 eye break: http://www.bluelightexposed.com/protect-our-vision/#useful-tips-to-relieve-digital-eyestrain-caused-by-digital-devices
6. Take care of your voice
While some streamers take the silent route, a lot of streamers prefer to engage with their audience by talking and cracking jokes, sometimes screaming for joy at getting a great loot or howling in imaginary pain as their character got ganked.
So if you’re gonna stream with your voice, try not to overwork it. Take some vocal breaks, drink water (seriously, drink water) to soothe your throat, and learn proper breathing techniques when talking. If you notice some hoarseness or raspiness in your voice, definitely take a break to recover. If your voice stays hoarse for more than three weeks, or you get on and off raspiness and hoarseness, you might want to visit a doctor there, bud.
Breathing technique: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-voice
Hoarse for more than three weeks: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hoarseness
7. Sleep isn’t for the weak
You often hear the saying “Sleep is for the weak!” on the internet so many times. You see so many gamers forgo a good night’s sleep for a couple more hours of gaming. Hey, I know how raiding is very important to you, or maintaining your high score is a must, or the game’s story is just too gripping and you gotta know how the story ends after choosing only one character to live—but you gotta sleep.
Sleep isn’t for the weak. In fact, lack of sleep will make you weak.
8. Set a reminder for your meds or vitamins so you won’t forget
When you’re gaming and you get in the zone, often times you forget a lot of things. Sometimes, it’s just harmless things like taking out the trash, or heartbreaking things like forgetting to call your grandma. But there are important and pressing matters that can slip off your mind, like taking your meds or vitamins. Set an alarm reminder so you won’t forget your medication. Gaming is great, but your health comes first.
9. Make sure you’re safe
So you’re building your fort in your game to keep out monsters or enemies. You’ve checked on everything and you deem it quite secure. You rest easy knowing you’re safe.
But what about your real life self and your real life fort?
If you have a family member or a buddy living with you, inform them that you’re about to game and stream and will stay in your cave for quite some time. They can check up on you or tell you if an emergency is happening outside your room. This can be quite important if you have a health problem that could happen at any moment, like seizures and heart attacks. If you get too focused on your game or use noise-cancelling headphones, you might not notice things going on outside, so it helps that you have a buddy system in place.
If you do live alone, you can always call someone you know or close to, so at least someone will know what you’re about to do. Check your windows and doors before streaming to make sure you’re safe.
10. Don’t neglect your mental health
Last but definitely not the least, do not ignore your mental health.
When you find that gaming and streaming are getting overwhelming, and the pressure is too much to handle, not to mention the toxic comments are making you feel pretty bad, please take a break.
If you’re not enjoying things anymore, do something else for the time being until you get your bearings again. Clear your head. Seek out help. Talk to someone. It’s gonna be okay.
Forcing yourself to continue will not only affect your mental health, but it might also affect your performance, which will be obvious to your audience and impact your streaming reputation.
Next time you schedule a stream, brush up on these tips and make sure to put yourself and your health first. Have fun and stay healthy, player one!