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BREAK Into SoloQ: 5 Steps to More Motivation

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Let’s face it.  It is pretty tough to get things done when you are feeling grumpy. So when you are faced with doing tasks that have potential to make you even grumpier, it’s natural to want to avoid that situation entirely.  This is often the case while engaging in competitive gaming and setting lofty goals to excel in an eSports career.  There are bound to be struggles and setbacks along the way that negatively impact our motivation to keep training.  Consider this example:

Last night after work, Ryan set a goal to play 5 ranked queue games before dinner.  He really wanted to get his practice done early, because he had such a terrible night sleep the day prior and had a horrible crick in the neck to prove it!  He did manage to play and win 2 games at first, but after a third aggravating match with an AFK teammate, he could no longer muster the resolve to queue again.

This is a simple example of how your mood impacts your motivation.  From the beginning it is clear that Ryan was having a tough day.  He was tired and in pain from a restless night of sleep and a full day at work.  He was also hungry since he was playing before he would have dinner.  These are things that would make anyone irritable, and therefore vulnerable to a negative mood swing.  In this case it took just one loss to swing Ryan’s mood and completely demotivate him.  To be successful, Ryan knew he needed to BREAK the patterns in his life that contributed to his emotional sensitivity while playing competitively, so he could remain focused and motivated through frustrating matches and negative developments in his eSports career path.

To do this Ryan employed the BREAK Method to develop a new lifestyle that supported his mood and training, rather than detracting from it.  He now can easily stay motivated through loss streaks, AFKs, and demotions, allowing him to more quickly move up the ranked ladder.

What is the BREAK Method?

B             Balanced Diet

R             Regular Sleep

E              Exercise

A             Alleviating Discomfort

K             Knowledge of Self

The BREAK method is a guide to creating habits that positively impact your mood, as a positive mood fights against motivational deterrents.  Balanced diet, regular sleep, exercise, alleviating discomfort, and knowing your own moods are all areas of improvement that can benefit self-motivation through bettering your mood.  Something as simple as eating breakfast every morning can better your mood and help keep you motivated.

How does it work?

The BREAK Method works under the assumption that bettering your body chemistry and balance betters your mood, and that bettering you mood improves your motivation. There first three steps focus on setting up a routine so that your body chemistry remains balanced.  The more balanced you are physically, the more balance you can achieve mentally.  To do this improvements to the timing, amount, and quality of your dietary, sleep, and exercise habits are made.  The last two steps focus on how to approach interruptions to that routine related to pain, illness or a large negative shift in motivation.

What is the impact of mood on motivation?

Mood is positively linked to the amount of effort one will naturally employ toward goals or tasks at hand.  In other words, the better you feel the more motivated you will be to work towards your goals.  Several factors contribute to making us vulnerable to a negative mood.  By forming habits that reduce these factors in your everyday life, you become more resilient. You can more easily adapt to setbacks, and are less distracted or deterred from your tasks.

When playing difficult matches, it is natural to lose heart or to become frustrated. If there is something in the way of you achieving your goal of winning, and it would be irrational to be happy about being blocked from progress.  A positive mood buffer must be present to offset the inevitable negatives that come with the realities of competition and training.  To form this buffer focus is put on regulating the body to help regulate the mind using the BREAK Method.

The Breakdown on the BREAK Method:  Chugging your health pots.

Certain lifestyle choices related to nutrition, sleep, physical activity, overall health, and one’s understanding of their own physical and mental health all impact emotional sensitivity and motivation.  When you evaluate your daily habits in each of these areas, think of yourself as a champion dueling in the midlane, where your health bar is the amount of motivation you have. When you run out of health, you are no longer motivated to play.

Activities that better your mood are your health pots you bring to lane.  Activities that worsen your mood are like you taking damage from minions before you enter lane.  The end goal is to come to lane at full health, and to bring as many health pots as possible.  This way you can sustain yourself throughout the duel.  Any damage taken once you are in lane can be equated to the inevitable disappointments and frustrations you encounter while trying to reach your goals.  If you come prepared, the damage you take won’t force you out of lane and can be regenerated, keeping you in the game longer.  So, how many health pots are you bringing to lane?  Let’s go through each step of the method to see where improvements in your routine can be made.

Balanced Diet

  • Timing: Your body operates best when you give it what it’s asking for when it expects it.  Eating at meals at the same time every day helps your body know when it can expect replenishment, allowing it to make adjustments to maintain chemical balance in between meals.
  • Amount: If you are in between meals and your stomach starts to grumble, have a snack available, as an empty stomach is an emotional vulnerability factor.  On the other hand, eating too many snacks also leaves you vulnerable.  A good rule of thumb is to eat when you actually feel hungry, and drink when you are actually thirsty.
  • Quality: Certain foods can elicit positive emotions.  For some, chocolate makes them feel great, milk can calm them down, and a steak leaves them energized.  Finding your feel good food on a particularly hard day can be very helpful.  Just remember not to overdo it on sugar and foods with limited nutritional value.  It would be foolish to put yourself at a disadvantage all because you won’t eat your fruits and vegetables!

Regular Sleep

  • Timing: Developing a somewhat rigid sleep schedule is generally healthy, and vital for people who have trouble falling or staying asleep.  To help train your body to fall asleep at a designated time, you can try taking melatonin (a natural sleep supplement) at the same time every day for one week.
  • Amount: Aim to get just enough sleep to make you feel energized. Both too much and too little sleep make you vulnerable.  On average, people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, so experiment with that sleep range to see what is best for you.
  • Quality: To achieve more restful sleep, avoid eating, drinking, exercise, and caffeine one hour before bed.  You will be surprised by the benefits you reap from a good night sleep.

Exercise

  • Timing: Getting a nice workout in the morning is a great way to give a jump start to your day. If you exercise first thing in the morning you won’t have the whole day to make excuses not to work out, and it will maximize the cognitive benefits you gain from physical activity. A workout can boost your focus a learning for 8-12 hours after.
  • Amount: Try to build yourself up to 5-7 days a week of 20 minutes of exercise per day. If 20 minutes is too much when you start out, you can break that time down into shorter sessions, like four 5 minute sessions between matches. Your body isn’t made to sit for hours on end, so moving away from your keyboard really can help you move up the ranked ladder.
  • Quality: Aerobic exercise is a natural antidepressant, so when looking for a mood boost, getting your heart pumping is a great place to start.  For supplemental strength training, concentrate on core body, grip and upper body exercises.  These are the areas that better your posture and limit stress on your body while sit using your mouse and keyboard for an extended amount of time.

Alleviate Pain, Illness or Discomfort

The whole point of eating well, sleeping well, and exercising is to make you physically feel better, so you can mentally and emotionally feel better.  With that said, if at any point you feel physically ill or uncomfortable, addressing the immediate discomfort must take priority. What this means is that if you have a headache or a cold, you should take time to remedy the sickness before continuing on with your agenda. If you have to take medicine or even going to the doctor, then do it! This also applies to mild discomfort like hunger, thirst, or even needing to go to the bathroom. So eat when you are hungry, drink when you are thirsty, and when you gotta go… GO (unless you’re in game, of course)!

A less obvious consideration here is considering the physical aspect of competitive gaming. The most common injuries among pro gamers are stress injuries that come from poor posture and poor ergonomics. An important note here is that these sorts of injuries do not happen overnight. In fact, the worst cases are often those where signs of the injury begin to show weeks or months prior, and no corrective action is taken. Allowing a stress injury to fester like this could lead to months of recovery time, or worse: permanent damage that could end a career before it begins.

Knowledge of self

To know your own mind and body is the most important part of the BREAK list. In order to maintain motivation, an emotional and physical balance must first be achieved. There is no magic number or universal strategy that can achieve this for you. Everyone’s body has its own unique set of needs. To find your balance you must be prepared to actively participate in the regulation of your body. This is a dynamic process, adjustments must be made along the way. So remain vigilant if you want to stay motivated. If you do not stay self-aware, your mood and motivation risk dropping to a BREAKpoint that will put a halt to your productivity.

Finding your BREAKpoint

Your BREAKpoint is the threshold that determines whether or not your mood will impact your ability to stay motivated.  This is different for everyone, as some people are more tolerant and driven through negative moods than others.  Some players can channel negative emotions into a productive use of energy.  Team Liquid’s Piglet is a player that has recently been referenced as an example of this.  His coaching staff benched him knowing that he would fight back by improving his play and team communication skills.  Where this might have been a killing blow for another player’s motivation, in Piglet’s case it did the opposite.

So at what point does your mood become distracting?  What do you do when your mood becomes a completely demotivating?  Sometimes no matter what you do, there is just too much working against you to accomplish your immediate goals.  In that case the only thing to do is be kind and patient with yourself.  You just might need to accept that today will be an exceptionally moody and non-productive day.  All you can do is try your best to stay on task, and if that simply cannot be done, reevaluate your tasks.

Sometimes, if things deteriorate too far, you may actually need to focus on returning to a mental state that allows you to be productive again.  One of the best ways to overcome low points is to do activities that make you feel competent and effective.  Returning to basic skills like practicing your last hitting is a great way to get some practice in while preserving your mood.

Try it!

Making lifestyle changes to improve you mood and motivation takes time and effort, but with dedication you will see an improvement in motivation and quality of life.

Have you been able to BREAK into a better routine?

Try one of these 7 day challenges and tell me about your experience in the comments below!

  • Eat breakfast, lunch or dinner at the same time every day.
  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time for 7 days.
  • Do an ab workout daily for one week.