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Surviving the Zoombie apocalypse: wellbeing for gamers in a pandemic

As Covid-19 turns the world even more sedentary, knowing how to take care of yourself while staring at a screen is crucial

The whole world has gone a little bit ‘Division’, hasn’t it? A little bit ‘Left for Dead’ and ‘Far cry-ey’? We’re not all facing it in quite the same way, but Covid-19 has made its presence felt around the globe, and although 2020 hasn’t yet thrown actual zombies at us (my friends are running a sweepstake on the rest of the year’s plot twists, and I am all in on ‘aliens before Chrimbo’), we have our own flavour of apocalypse to contend with.

As gaming devotees who visit dangerous places and face cataclysmic events on a daily, we’re in many ways better equipped than most for this unfolding world. Still, the effects of this pandemic are continuing longer than we’d hoped for and our minds are either screaming ‘Get out and party!’ or ‘Stay inside. Preferably under this table’.

It’s not just the outside world that’s changing quicker than your nephew’s Minecraft server. The habits and daily routines that defined normal life for many of us are all over the place. I know I’ve definitely found challenges in keeping an even keel.

Don’t click out. That’s as light and fluffy as I’m going to get, as I actually want to be practical and share some of my nonsense in a bid to help my fellow gamer brothers and sisters. We’ve always been a sedentary breed, but this kind of advice feels more important now than ever. Therefore, here are a few health and wellbeing tips to help you survive being a gamer in a global pandemic (and a real-life zombie apocalypse, should one occur – as it definitely will at this rate).

Stick your head out the window

Seriously, oxygen really helps. Sometimes, when the outside world is at its least inviting, I’ve realised I’ve not left my home for days or only existed in two rooms. Step outside. Even if it’s just to sit on a balcony or cross the street and back. You’d be surprised how much of a boon it is to get away from the computer for even a minute or two – to shift your perspective and breathe a little bit of air that hasn’t been cycled through your living quarters. If you have the embarrassment of riches that is a garden, use it!

Read more: Fight the good fight in the best zombie games on PC

Something else that has been quite frankly a cheat code for me throughout all of life is yoga. You get a wonderful sensation of calmness in your mind for very little effort, you don’t have to be flexible or fit, and there are plenty of poses which you can do anywhere at any time – even in a gaming chair. As an added bonus, you can then tell people you’re a master of yoga as well as a master of drifting headshots. Now that’s some novel – and I think you’ll agree, devastating – trash talk.

Variety is the spice of everything

As gamers we communicate and even maintain close friendships online, making us accustomed to hanging out over chat apps, or via a pair of strung-together soup cans, in a way that many non-gamers are only just getting used to. However, for those who spend their days in front of a screen and have by six o’clock turned into a ‘Zoombie’, dragging their catatonic remains around their living room, the idea of ‘relaxing’ by continuing to talk across a juddering broadband connection or even holding a phone to their ear is not attractive.

One thing I’ve learned – now that my week is filled with quizzes and Jackbox parties – is that variety is important. How we engage is often just as important as the people we’re engaging with, and a range of activities and conversations give different parts of our brain a workout, whether it’s playing a different game, pursuing some non-digital hobbies, or speaking to an old friend. Keep it fresh and your mind will thank you for it.

But obviously, Keep a routine

This may seem counter-intuitive with the last point, but you can build a variety of activities into a consistent structure, and structure is important.

I’ve found my energy levels are all over the place during these past weeks – sometimes I’m full of beans, other times I struggle to keep my spirits up. I always get my best work done (gaming or otherwise) between the hours of 2 and 3 am – something I share with vampires, owls, and probably a good chunk of the gamer family.

In this new era of lockdowns and widespread working from home, the lines between our professional and personal lives are blurring, and the temptation to work (or play) late is stronger than ever. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes me feel I should compensate the next day, so I set my alarm for earlier than I usually would in the morning. I won’t say the time because it’s embarrassing and my business alone, but nonetheless getting up without leaving time to sleep off my late nights was agony, and I was achieving only about four hours’ sleep. The solution, of course, was to go to bed earlier. Soon, I was getting more done and my energy levels began to stabilise.

I mean, the days are still awful apocalyptic fever dreams made real, but baby steps, y’know? Be disciplined and cultivate a healthy routine, allowing plenty of time to sleep, exercise, eat healthily, and to enjoy a variety of leisure activities.


Don’t speedrun it

Go at your own pace. If you want to totally change your life or build an empire then you go for it. If on the other hand, you’re leaning more towards surviving by resting your mind and body, then you do you.

It’s nobody else’s business to tell you how to react to what’s happening at the moment, especially since everyone’s experience will vary hugely with their personal circumstances, but that’s exactly why it can be difficult to chart a ‘true’ course among so much information. Try to keep to the above guidelines, but if you need a day off – if you don’t want to go for a walk today, or just want to watch Inception again – then do. There’s being disciplined and there’s beating yourself up. Don’t do the latter.

Did I mention yoga?

Seriously. And water. My brother-from-another-mother Ross calls it ‘getting the basics right’, and Ross is also responsible for bringing me to the PC side from ConsoleVille having helped me build my first proper rig, so you know he’s to be trusted. He’s got a list I find very useful: Are you drinking enough water? Are you eating enough vegetables? Are you getting enough sleep? If all those things aren’t a clear and resounding ‘yes’, then there’s usually an identifiable reason as to why you might be feeling low or at the very least, a quick remedy to feeling much better. Provided you’re not expecting a miracle cure to, say, a broken leg.

Related: Socialise digitally in the best co-op games on PC

It can be easy to feel isolated in isolation – I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? – and let all your usual habits erode into a state of short-termist impulsiveness. But know that in all of this you are far from alone, and there’s probably somebody on the other side of the screen, or a neighbour, that feels pretty much the way you do about the fundamental stuff right now.

Sorry. That was definitely light and fluffy at the end there. You can click out now.