This post marks the series finale of our mini-series called “the game of life”, the series where we look at games and how they can help improve our lives. And what better way to end the series than to talk about a subject that caused me to start blogging in the first place! The importance of keeping our health up.
Tracking your health through health bars
Have you ever felt that feeling from Bruno Mar’s “The Lazy Song”? You know, this feeling, “Today, I don’t feel like doing anything… I just wanna lay in my bed…”. Yeah… for most of us, there will be days where we just wanna kick our feet up and stare at our fan, but what happens if you feel this all the time? Well… you’ll probably feel suckish, unhappy, and unproductive.
That’s exactly what happened to me this year. I didn’t know if it was due to the pandemic, being cooped up at home, or just being stressed at work. But what I did know was that I had to do something to be happy again. But imagine if there’s a way to track someone’s health or see if we’re getting low on energy. What if we can implement a practice to prevent these negative feelings from appearing at all? As they say, prevention is better than a cure, right?
The good news is that we can prevent those negative feelings from appearing by taking a page out of video games. How? By monitoring health bars --- you know, the green bar you usually see above your character’s head in games. Health bars give a clear indication of how your character is doing at a certain point in the game or battle. This allows us to make adjustments and make sure our character is in tip top shape all the time. The bad news is that we don’t have that system in real life yet. However, we can take that concept of monitoring our health bars to improve our everyday lives.
Health Bar Variety
First, let’s talk about the different kinds of health bars and the importance of keeping them at a sufficient level. If you play video games, you’ll probably notice that health bars are no longer exclusive for tracking your character’s health (HP or hit points). They can be also used to track MP/PP or mana/power points (games like Final Fantasy or Pokémon typically use MP/PP to track if you can cast a special ability or skill). Another example is the energy bar (games like Zelda: BOTW and Monster Hunter use this to track how much a character can run, jump, or climb). For this article though, we’ll refer to the variety of HP, MP/PP, or energy bars as just health bars.
Importance of finding balance and keeping your health bars up
Now, it’s important to note that finding balance is key to allowing your character to perform to the best of their ability. Being too low in one area would keep your character functioning but not in their optimal state. As an example, think about a Pokémon battle. If your Pokémon has a high HP but low PP, your Pokémon is alive, but you probably won’t deal enough damage to defeat your enemy. Likewise, having a high PP would allow you to deal high damage but low HP would make your Pokémon closer to fainting. Thus, balance and keeping your health bars at a sufficient level are important.
It’s the same thing in life. Being physically fit and having no physical illness is great but you won’t be at your best if you have a lot of anxiety or stress. Likewise, having a great state of mind won’t do you a lot of good if you’re feeling sluggish, tired, or unhealthy. Ok! So, finding balance and keeping our health bars at a sufficient level are important but what health bars should we monitor?
Types of health bars
Now, everyone has different needs. Here are some examples of states that people usually care about: physical, mental, spiritual, social, and emotional health. For me though, I like to keep track of 3 health bars. I can put a lot more bars but I like to keep mine simple and easy to remember. If I want to be healthy I just need to keep my PMS (Physical, Mental, Spiritual) levels high :p.
Physical Health – This corresponds to everything physical like energy levels, fitness, illnesses, etc.
Mental Health – This corresponds to everything mental like emotional well-being, anxiety, depression, social needs, etc.
Spiritual Health – This corresponds to everything spiritual like your fellowship and relationship with God.
You can mix and match health bars you want to focus on, but I suggest starting out with just two (Physical and Mental). This keeps things simple and makes it more manageable. Once you feel you have a nice grasp on those two, you can add more bars to keep track of. Now that we have identified the health bars we want to monitor, we’ll talk about how to keep those health bars up!
Tip #1: Look at your status window
The first thing we must do is look at our status window. We’ll only know what to improve upon if we know where our health bars currently stand. So ask yourself a few questions about your physical well-being. “How do I feel physically?”, “Am I experiencing any back pain or illnesses?”, “Do I lack energy throughout the day?”. Next, ask some questions about your mental well-being. “How am I feeling?”, “Am I sad?”, “How are my stress and anxiety levels?”. Mental health is a lot harder to test by yourself so if you feel that something is wrong, you may even take an online test for depression, anxiety, and even postpartum depression.
Once you know where your health bars are, then you can adjustments on how to improve their levels. Remember, you’re in control of your life. It’s also up to you if you want to improve by yourself or ask others for help and support. But at the end of the day, it all starts with you.
Tip #2. Remember that activities consume energy
The next step involves taking a page out of the first law of thermodynamics (Law of conservation of energy) haha! Loosely interpreted, all activities consume some sort of energy one way or another and can be replenished through other means. It’s the same thing with our health. Here’s an example: Work consumes our physical and mental energy while giving us a sense of accomplishment helping our mental health in the process. But work is a boring activity, so how about if the look at a more fun activity like drinking or going to the gym.
The act of drinking consumes physical energy, health, and drains money. At the same time, it can recover mental health by providing fun, social interaction and stress relief. How about going to the gym? It consumes energy and money but can increase our long-term health via increasing our physical stats and the release of endorphins. It’s all a matter of perspective. So ask yourself, "how are my daily activities affecting my health bars?".
The key takeaway here is to be mindful that all activities burn your health bars one way or another while simultaneously providing gains or losses in other areas. The key is to always have more gains (plusses) than losses (minuses) in any activity so we can always come out on top. This is where your judgment really shines, is it better to go out partying all night rather than resting and eating at home? I’ll leave that call up to you 😊.
Tip #3: Take potions to heal
Similar to games, we also have the option to take potions in real life. They take on the form of food, nutrition, and rest. I have to say that for me, food and rest have to be the most efficient potions out there! Eating good quality food can not only raise your energy levels but even bring upon a release of endorphins. This effectively replenishes both physical and mental health bars. It’s akin to taking an Elixir in Final Fantasy VII to recover both HP and MP. Just don’t forget to consume high quality and healthy food for best results… Quality food in, quality food out! Garbage food in and garbage food out haha!
Rest is the same. A good quality rest will recover both mental and physical health bars. Your whole team of Pokémon fainting? Don’t worry! A quick trip to the Pokémon center will get them back to tip top shape! Rest is so important that God rested on the seventh day after six days of creation (Genesis 2:2). So when you’re pulling all nighters or working 12 to 16 hour shifts, remember to give yourself a break and rest. Like food though, quality rest is critical. You can’t take a 2 hour nap and call it quality rest. Give yourself 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep for best results!
If you’re interested in quality sleep, there’s this interesting article about sleep debt that you may enjoy reading. It talks about how to recover from lack of sleep. I’ve been trying the concept out and maybe I’ll create a blog post once I’ve thoroughly tested it out 😊.
Tip #4: Take side quests with rewards that increase your stats
This year, I felt more tired than ever before, mainly due to long weeks at work. As a result, I decided to take my weekends off and just play games or watch YouTube videos all day to get myself rested and ready for work come Monday. Seems like a good idea, right? But it astonished me to find that I felt more lethargic and unproductive come Monday. I always had those "Oh no, it's Monday again" kinda feels and I still don't want to work yet.
I found that this is because not all rest is equal. There’s this idea called the lethargy cycle. Basically, it’s a cycle of negative emotions that build up momentum inside us causing us to spiral more and more into low energy, bad moods, and depression. Here’s an example:
Negative Emotion: I don’t feel like doing anything today
Negative Activity: Lay in bed, play games
Negative Emotion: Ugh, I feel like I wasted my whole day playing games
Negative Thoughts: But, I can’t think of anything productive to do…
Negative Thoughts: What’s wrong with me, why can’t I be productive?
Negative Emotion: Overwhelmed and unhappy
See how the negative activities, thoughts, and emotions build on top of each other to create a cycle? The way to break this cycle is to do something that produces a positive emotion.
So if you’re stuck in a lethargy cycle, why not take up a hobby? For some people, it might be planting, decluttering your home, or learning a new skill! As long as it’s a hobby that can produce a positive emotion, go for it! Anything to get you out of that rut you’re in. Hey, you never know, it may even lead to some other opportunities down the line! This is akin to taking those side quests that give you rewards and increase your stats when you’re stuck in a game and can’t quite beat that boss yet 😊. So, go and take those side quests!
I chose to talk about this concept on health bars as the series finale because it really felt important for me. I want to let other people who experienced the same cycle of negative emotions that you are not alone and that there is a way to break through that cycle. It gets better. That's why I can't stress how important it is to maintain our health bars. If we keep it at low levels, we'll spiral down deeper into the negativity cycle. I also wanted to share my experience to give an example :).
My journey started when I realized that I didn't want to feel suckish and unhappy all the time (Look at your status window). I knew something was wrong but I didn't know exactly what was causing it. As a result, I decided to take a break (Take potions) and just figure it out as work was consuming a lot of my time and energy (Activities consume energy). I figured I had to give some love to myself and fix both mental & physical health for me to move forward. It also helps out that I had a strong support system of friends and loved ones who helped me out!
For me, I decided to do yoga and resistance band training as a way to relax my mind and body (Side quests as hobbies). Not only does it provide me with an hour of peace each day, it also helps keep my body active and energetic. Additionally, it gave me a sense of accomplishment every time I did the exercises. I didn't feel like I wasted the entire day. This replenishes my mental and physical health bars while increasing my physical stats too.
Aside from that, I also created this blog to give myself an outlet to release my pent up thoughts in life. This gives me an increase in my mental health bar while reducing some of the stress and anxiety I felt. I like how the activities give me pleasant emotions that I can build one on top of another. This not only breaks the lethargy cycle but creates a cycle of positivity creating a self-sustaining engine.
A word of caution though, if you decide to do exercise, please don’t overstress yourself. Sometimes, when we want fast results, we tend to try and do shortcuts and push ourselves to the limit. Again, balance is key. If your muscles hurt from working out too much then you won’t be at your optimal state.
Bonus Tip: Praying and reading the Bible for your spiritual health bar
Recently, I added a health bar to monitor my spiritual state. I know some folks don’t really like talking about religion but in case you are wondering how to increase your spiritual health, I’ll just add it here as a bonus tip. I would recommend praying and reading the Bible if you don’t know where to start. From my experience, it just gives me an outlet where I can share and communicate all my deepest fears and worries to God without any fear of judgment or prejudice from other people. It’s also nice to have Someone who I can pass on my burdens so that I don’t have to worry about them too much.
Well folks! That’s it! Thank you for going on this journey with me through the “game of life” mini-series. Hoped you liked it! If you’re interested in reading Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Please just click the links. And with that, I’ll be taking a rest from blogging…. Just kidding! See you folks again next week! 😊
Remember, if you’re feeling unwell in any of your health bars, don’t hesitate to ask for help! One way to take control of your life and improve the current state you are in is by taking accountability. Whether that means researching on how to improve by yourself, taking a new hobby to learn new skills, or asking for support. Whatever it is, as long as you think it can help you raise your health bars, go do it! Just make sure to keep that healthy balance, okay?
If you feel lost or forget what to do to increase your health bars, just remember to take LAPS.
Look at your status window, Activities consume Energy, Potions (Take them!), Side Quests (Do them!)