The rise of gaming and the esports industry as a whole has shocked millions of people around the world who had no idea that video games had such a loyal and engaged audience.
Esports fans watch and follow their favorite esports all-stars on platforms like Twitch often because they recognize just how impressive those gamers are. It’s similar to how a recreational tennis player appreciates watching the genius ball stroking of Roger Federer or Raphael Nadal.
Often, audience members are gamers themselves that play the games they watch, and can therefore fully appreciate the mental focus it takes to play the game at such a high level. Perhaps a more apt analogy might be to consider fans of the game of Chess that sit in awe of the mental powers of top players like Magnus Carlsen.
Non-gamers might not realize that esport athletes, much like Chess players, need to continually train their mind to compete at the highest levels. Professional gamers take their gameplay seriously, and adopt lifestyle choices that enhance it. Let’s explore some tips that gamers and non-gamers can use to enhance their focus, both online and offline.
Non-gamers might be surprised to know that esports athletes pay careful attention to their dietary choices. This might fly in the face of the stereotype of an online gamer as an overweight Cheeto-eater, but most pro gamers do make sure they’re eating nutritious foods that have a positive effect on their focus.
There is some evidence to suggest that foods high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids such as fish could benefit the brain and boost mental performance. On the other hand, inflammation-producing processed foods and refined sugar can create mental fog and impede certain brain functions.
In fact, this article by the New York Times suggests that a heart-healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, could also have positive effects on the brain.
Certain foods can be particularly beneficial for mental clarity including blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and nuts. This is often because of the antioxidants and inflammation-reducing properties of these specific foods.
For vegetarians, there is some evidence to suggest that supplementing with Creatine Monohydrate could also enhance cognitive function.
Those boosts in cognitive function can mean dramatic improvements in gaming performance.
Pro gamers are also big advocates of physical exercise. First of all, exercise is well-documented to have a mood-enhancing effect that counteracts some symptoms of depression and anxiety. That means that gamers can stay cool, calm, and collected in the heat of a match.
Moreover, reaction time is an extremely important part of many games, with many matches being decided based on players’ split-second decisions. A miniscule improvement in reaction time can often be the difference between a recreational player and a world-class esports athlete.
Several studies indicate that intense and acute forms of exercise, characterized by short bursts of exertion, is linked with an improvement in reaction time.
As a result, activities such as sprinting, high-intensity interval training, and sports that require short bursts of physical activity could be beneficial for gamers. This is consistent with what many pro gamers implement in their personal lives.
High-level pro gamers often harp on the importance of quality sleep when looking to improve their gameplay. This claim is consistent with modern scientific research which finds that a lack of sleep impedes cognitive performance in a number of ways. Sadly, Americans are largely sleep deprived, with approximately 10-18% of Americans suffering from chronic sleep conditions, and the percentage is far higher among psychiatric patients.
While the exact neuroscience behind how sleep improves mental performance isn’t fully understood, several neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies indicate that quality sleep improves mental and emotional resilience. Sleep isn’t a static phenomenon and in fact incorporates a number of different sleep cycles.
Each sleep cycle has shown to be important, but the REM or rapid eye movement sleep cycle has been specifically linked to benefiting learning and emotional health in several studies.
Mounting research suggests that CBD oil could play a role in boosting cognitive function due to its anti-inflammatory body and its interaction with the endocannabinoid system in consumers of CBD products.
The endocannabinoid system plays a role in many crucial bodily functions related to a person’s mood, memory, stress, sleep and appetite. It’s also an important part of how the body maintains homeostasis, according to Kyro.
By acting on the endocannabinoid system, CBD oil can help boost a users’ mood, reduce anxiety, relieve anxiety-related insomnia, and even improve focus and energy. There is also reason to believe that CBD can indirectly influence Serotonin receptors in the brain, which impacts users’ mood in important ways.
Finally, CBD can help improve an individual’s focus indirectly by helping the body modulate its sleep and appetite, according to Daily CBD Mag. Improved focus means direct improvement in gameplay, and these small adjustments can make a big difference for gamers.
This last change may come as a surprise to some, but there is evidence to suggest that laughter and other forms of positive affect, as well as an optimistic attitude on life in general could boost your mental faculties. Specifically, laughter causes the release of endorphins in the brain that trigger the body’s natural rewards system. This can help improve creative problems solving and gamers’ ability to look at challenges from an out-of-the-box perspective.
Laughter can also influence the intestinal flora of the body that is closely related to inflammation. Some research shows that laughter not only releases endorphins but also has a similar element of physical exertion as exercise.
The recommended amount to have this additional effect is 10 continuous minutes of intense laughter. That may sound like a lot, but gamers may find that joking around with their friends might just provide the cognitive boost they’re looking for.