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BooksandTrees

Almost 500 Days Without Gaming

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After looking at this portion of the forums I see nobody posts here more than once every 3 months. So I'm going to give it content. It's a long read. Maybe it helps you. Maybe more people write here.

How I Quit Gaming:

I'm currently 441 days free from video games. It took me 150 days to stop having cravings for video games. Before going on this incredible streak, I quit gaming for 5 months and failed. I did it because my two roommates kept playing video games and I had no other hobbies or friends that didn't play video games. I figured I'd try to game in moderation after quitting for 5 months. After just 3 weeks of playing 1 hour a day I slowly went back to playing 6-18 hours a day and became suicidal due to how angry and disappointed I was. Not only was I sick of gaming, but I began to hate my friends online and in real life because of how much push back I got about a "fake addiction". 

Your gamer friends are not your real friends. Most alcoholics or drug addicts will face issues with their "friends" trying to urge them to keep drinking or using with them. It's because they're also hiding from their problems and if they have company doing it then they feel better about it and don't have to change. You can change. You should change if you feel gaming negatively impacts your life. 

I view gaming as a crutch or a leg I stood on when I suffered. I'm a structural engineer so I'll use my field of science for a metaphor here. Pretend the stress and anxiety of your life is a weight (dead and live load). You and your mental wellness are a building. Buildings are weaker to seismic, wind, and snow loads. Pretend those are different stresses in life. If you gain more stress in your life, like wind pushing you to the left, you'll lean on your left leg to stand up so you don't fall over.

If you have tons of stress from work and go home to play video games so you can survive the next day, that's a leg you're relying on. If you quit video games without replacing that leg with one or multiple things to support yourself, then you will relapse because you don't want to fall.

So you need to ask yourself why you're gaming and investigate. I made a huge list for why I quit gaming (my original screenshot from 2018):

image.thumb.png.9eb3464af8c319af80b3b81ffa6b9d7a.png

I played games because I wanted friendship, accomplishment, and escape (mental environment change). I replaced the social aspect of gaming with board game nights, rock climbing community, coed volleyball, coed floor hockey, exercise groups, yoga, and classes to explore hobbies like music classes and cooking classes. Sure, most of these people never became close friends, but it's not often you become best IN REAL LIFE friends with your gamer friends outside of games. When they or you quit a game, you mostly lose that friend. A RuneScape addict rarely gives up RuneScape to play World of Warcraft. 

I started getting accomplishment outside of gaming by doing better at work. I got recognized by my peers, promoted, and earned raises and bonuses that I'd never received before. I also started 3D modeling and seeing how my progress developed. I became better at the sports I played and became the best player on my team after being average. I can climb more difficult routes in rock climbing now because I learned technique and gained strength. My food tastes way better because I cook now instead of eating frozen meals or junk food.

I was able to escape my stressful environments by watching 1 or 2 movies each week, going to my sporting groups, visiting friends for board games, and you get where I'm going with this. I'm not stressed by work anymore because of it.

Health Benefits from Quitting Gaming:

  1. I'm not suicidal anymore
  2. I have friends and a social life, which has lowered my depression symptoms
  3. I no longer have heartburn. I used to sit and try to increase the rate at which I gained EXP in games and it stressed me out and I internalized all of the stress. I also got angry if we lost a game and had to internalize how much I wanted to yell at teammates if it was a team. This all gave me heartburn. I haven't had heartburn in over a year.
  4. I no longer have a "pull" sensation in my head. You know what I'm talking about. When you have free time during the day or night and there's a sensation in your head that "pulls you" back into gaming. That's gone. I just have peace in my mind now.
  5. No brain fog. Remember staying up late, gaming for hours, waking up the next day, and not knowing how to solve or do things you'd normally do because you're drained? You just need a nap or something? Maybe you drink redbulls or mountain dew to get some caffeine and sugar to feel better? Maybe you vape or smoke? It's all gone. My mental clarity is unmatched right now. I have a photographic memory now. I'm performing better in analytical situations at work than I've ever performed. 
  6. Confidence boost. I can look people in the eyes more now. My social anxiety has plummeted. I'm very popular at work now. My friends that I'm now making are recognizing me as the center of attention and not an awkward side member of the crew who just does what they want and contributes nothing emotionally.

My Advice:

  1. Study yourself. You need to investigate why you're gaming and be honest. If you can't find out why you're gaming ask yourself what appeals you to gaming and what you're missing in your normal life. If you still can't figure it out ask your parents, friends, siblings, or mentor figure you're close with if they've noticed you're missing something. They might say you have little to no friends, hobbies, self esteem, etc. It might highlight why you're gaming.
  2. Be neutral instead of negative and be positive when you need and deserve it. You're going to struggle immensely when you quit gaming. It probably takes up all of your waking hours outside of school and work. One single activity won't replace it. You can't exercise for 12 hours and you can't read a book for 12 hours. You'd kill yourself. Start breaking up the day. Cooking food gives you 3 hours a day to replace that time and it's beneficial to your health and sensory improvement (smell, taste, look, feel, etc.). Exercise easily. Don't jump into a huge routine. Just go for a walk and track your steps. Start with 1k steps per day and after a few weeks maybe you're at 10k steps per day. I'm doing that now and have gone from 4k a day to 6k a day.
  3. Ignore counting each day. It can be exhausting waking up each day and saying "day 5" and then you think about how long 90 days is or eternity is. It can be exhausting and stressful. Just focus on weekly benchmarks. That helped me. I started saying "I'm xx weeks free of gaming" around 20 weeks and my gaming cravings went away completely because I was thinking about it less.
  4. Join a community or two. You probably love the people you game, roleplay, or hang out with online. Get out and try new activities and slowly integrate yourself in the community. Don't be a neck beard and just throw stupid opinions into groups either. If you don't know how to act in a social setting here is some advice: Don't talk politics, religion, gender studies, or give unsolicited advice. Just strictly talk about the activity you're doing and once you feel comfortable in that group you can then start talking about other things like movies or other activities.
  5. Find people to talk to during the week. Maybe you're close to a family member like a parent, cousin, or aunt/uncle, sibling, etc.
  6. Avoid beating yourself up. You are going to be fixing your life. This will make you fixate on other parts of your life. You might try waking up earlier, eating healthier, etc. You aren't going to be perfect each day. If you set goals to eat 4 meals a day, not watch porn, meditate, go to the gym, read,  wake up at 8 AM each day and sleep in sometimes, don't get mad. The more mad you get the more you'll deplete your energy and want to relax later on. This will make you want to escape again. Embrace your new life and give yourself leeway. That's not an excuse to avoid any habits or responsibilities. It's just an introduction for you to attack life and enjoy it more. 4 days of eating healthy is better than 0. 4 days without porn is better than 0. Keep going and understanding yourself.
  7. Fix your hygiene. I can't tell you how many times I've felt depressed and neglected brushing my teeth, taking a shower, or moisturizing. I now brush twice a day and shower at least 4 times per week instead of 1 or none. These things are therapeutic and promote self love through self care. 
Edited by BooksandTrees
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Awesome post! I can definitely relate to a lot of your "why I quit" list. I also consider gamers, on average, to be very toxic and negative and just don't want to be a part of that anymore. I think a big part of that is that the most vocal members of the game community are the ones who spend all day either gaming or on Reddit (so... us, lol) and they are not mentally healthy or happy people. The ones who just casually play for 30 minutes to an hour every once in a while aren't going to be on the Steam forums talking trash all day or sending developers death threats on Twitter. Remember Gamergate? I bet virtually everybody involved in that argument was a video game addict. It's so nice to be able to think clearly and not get triggered by insignificant things like a bug in a game or someone no scoping you. Lol

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