Anyone who has ever waited to go out to bat in a cricket match or stood up and sung in front of a room full of people will know all about anxiety. Today, with the rise of eSport and of Twitch streams being broadcast to thousands, it should come as no surprise that competitive gaming anxiety is a very real phenomenon, and one that affects countless gamers.
Being a little nervous as you go into a competitive environment is natural, and can even be a healthy, as it helps to focus the senses on what is to come. But higher levels of anxiety have the opposite effect. Not only is anxiety an unpleasant experience in itself, but if you are feeling highly stressed and nervous, your performance will inevitably suffer.
Nobody wants to resort to anti-anxiety medication in order to enjoy and do well in what should be a pleasurable pastime. Fortunately, there is a natural way to keep those anxiety levels under control. The growing popularity of hemp oil as a natural supplement has rapidly spread to the world of gaming.
How can hemp help?
While hemp seed oil is an extract that is derived from cannabis, there is no risk of it getting you high. It is also quite different from the CBD products that are so popular at the moment. While CBD comes from flowering buds, hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant. It is rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, and there have been more than a dozen clinical trials examining the effect of these fatty acids on anxiety symptoms.
There is consensus across the different studies that hemp can make a positive difference. However, the researchers are less certain about exactly how it does so. Omega-3 fatty acids naturally promote healthy brain function, but there has to be more to it than that. There are two main theories as to how hemp can actively reduce anxiety.
The first is that the omega-3s impair memories of traumatic events, essentially helping you to literally put bad prior experiences out of your mind. However, some researchers feel the effects of fatty acids run deeper. A key property of hemp is that as well as being high in omega-3 it is low in omega-6. This is significant, because high omega-6 to omega-3 ratios have been associated with common diseases such as heart disease, asthma, fibromyalgia and diabetes. These conditions are all proven triggers for anxiety.
Other stress-busters for gamers
Ron “Rambo” Kim is a name that is well known in the eSport community. The former CS:GO pro is now better known as one of the foremost eSport coaches, and the advice he offers runs way deeper than strategy tips. Rambo also helps new eSport pros to manage the psychological pressures that can accompany pro gaming. Here are three of the techniques he advocates for managing anxiety:
- Breathing exercises – Rambo recommends focusing on your breathing. Slow five to ten second inhales through the nose help you to focus, to block out “mental clutter” that might be distracting you and to cancel out negative thoughts.
- Preparation – if you are going into a work presentation or taking your driving test, it stands to reason that you will feel more anxious if you are under prepared. Exactly the same applies with gaming. If you know you’ve done everything you can in the run up to a game or tournament, your mind will be more at ease.
- Rest – getting good quality sleep can be a big challenge in today’s world. But without proper rest, your mind cannot reset. The emphasis here is on quality, not quantity, so start adopting good sleep habits right away.
Turning anxiety upside down
In short, the research shows that hemp can play an important role in helping to manage all sorts of anxiety, and not only for gamers. When you also factor in these other stress busting techniques you are in a great position to make gaming anxiety a thing of the past.
However, those who play video games competitively have an extra ace up their sleeve. Gaming can be a powerful tool in its own right for managing other types of anxiety, especially in these difficult times. It offers a level of escapism that goes beyond that provided by reading a book or watching TV, as unlike these passive pastimes, it places you in the centre of the action. So let’s all relax and enjoy the game!