New Year’s resolutions are one thing that everyone loves to hate. Yeah, a lot of them are asinine, and many of us won’t really follow them after a month or two. (There’s a reason gyms are at their busiest in January and then look like ghost towns in February.) All the same, resolutions can still be worth making, especially if you’re serious about improving your gaming habits and health. Staying in tune with yourself mentally and physically and setting realistic goals are ways that you can truly change your life and perspective for the better. For all the gamers out there who are looking to make 2022 their year, here are five ideas for gaming and wellness New Year’s resolutions.

Improving your nighttime gaming routine

No one wants to hear this. (Trust me – I don’t, either.) After a long day of work or school, the only thing many of us want to do is each junk food and game late into the night. For many, myself included, it’s a relaxing, occasionally cathartic release after a stressful day. While you shouldn’t stop gaming at night if it’s something you really enjoy, there are healthier and more mindful ways to go about it, especially if you find yourself routinely falling asleep during the day or hitting snooze seven times before you get out of bed.

The easiest resolution to improve your nighttime gaming routine and overall health is to set an earlier bedtime for yourself. Study after study has shown the total-body benefits of good, consistent sleep, including a better mood, better memory, and more alertness. (Plus, you won’t have to rely on that morning cup of coffee quite so much.) Other good resolution ideas in the same area include eating healthier snacks and drinking water before bed instead of junk food and sodas or alcohol, which can improve both your sleep quality and your physical health. Finally, if you find yourself getting frustrated at the games you’re playing rather than feeling relaxed, try adjusting what you play at night. Instead of competitive FPSes or intense MOBAs, look for relaxing exploration or sim games to relax your brain before you head to bed.

Moving your body between games

When many of us are gaming, we tend to sit still for long periods of time. While expensive equipment like standing desks can alleviate this a little bit, not everyone has the money or space for such a device. (Also, let’s be honest: standing for 8 hours a day doesn’t sound super appealing.) Unless you’re playing a game designed to foster physical activity like Ring Fit Adventureyou’re probably not moving much more than your hands and your eyes while you’re playing.

If you’re not quite ready to jump into a full-blown exercise regimen, there are plenty of smaller, easier-to-start resolutions that will get you moving without leaving you feeling exhausted or cutting into your gaming time. The easiest is to simply stand up and stretch between matches or rounds of the game you’re playing. If you have a smartwatch or similar device, you can program it to prompt you to stand for a minute every hour or so; if you don’t, simply set an alarm or timer to remind you to get up, stretch, and get the blood flowing. If you’re looking for a little more, you can also invest in a cheap under-desk pedal machine to keep your legs moving and blood flowing while you’re gaming at your desk. If you prefer handheld or mobile games, try walking or pacing (safely!) while playing for the same benefit. While you’re not going to get ripped or blast fat doing any of these things, the results will still be obvious and beneficial.

Finding a community or friends to game with

If you’re a longtime gamer, you’re probably also involved with at least one gaming community. Whether it’s mostly in-person tournaments and get-togethers or facilitated through social media like Reddit and Twitter, gaming communities are a great way to get to know others who play the same games that you do. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer multiplayer or single-player titles: chances are if you like a game, someone else out there does too. Many games have vibrant communities full of art, videos, memes, and more.

Thanks to the pandemic and the greater state of the world, it can be easy to feel shut in, as though you’ve lost much of the life that went on outside your doors. If you’re going stir-crazy or need a mental escape from the constant bad news, consider making a resolution to join a virtual gaming community. Even if you’re an introvert, connecting with others and finding common ground can do wonders for your mental health, not to mention stave off any loneliness you might have been feeling. Just watch out for drama: any community or fandom with a lot of people is probably going to war or take sides at some point. If you can stay out of the messiness, gaming communities are a great way to break out of your comfort zone in the new year.

Learning to code or make games

Do you love learning how games work? Do you read the patch notes and balance changes for your favorite games religiously? Have you always wanted to call yourself a game designer? Well, there’s no better time than the present, right? It’s never been easier to make your own games, no matter which part of design you’re interested in. The internet is full of instructional videos, free documentation and resources, and peer groups to get you started in design and development. You won’t be making your own Assassin’s Creed right off the bat, but everyone has to start somewhere.

There are a lot of mental benefits associated with learning a new skill. Teaching yourself something new fosters pride and satisfaction, and sharing your project with others can create a sense of purpose and community. Learning new skills is also a great mental exercise and can keep you feeling sharp through the “brain fog” of the pandemic. Whether you want to go into games professionally or you just want to make a little something for yourself and your friends, learning to make games is a great potential resolution.

Try new genres and types of games

If you don’t want to make any serious resolutions but still want to change things up in the new year, how about trying a new genre or type of game? If you’ve always played MOBAs, try a strategy game. (You might be surprised by how similar they are!) If wholesome life sims are your speed, give a racing game a shot. Expanding your purview of games and getting out of your gaming comfort zone is an easy way to make things feel different in an otherwise fairly stagnant year.

There are a few different directions you could go in with this resolution. Besides trying new genres, why not try new game formats? If you’re used to digital games, give board games or Dungeons & Dragons a try. Teach your younger siblings or cousins to play a classic board game like Monopoly or Sorry. Introduce your family members to fun party games like the Jackbox Party Pack series. Play something simple and free on your browser like skribbl. There are endless ways to find new experiences in games and broaden your horizons, but sometimes you have to go searching for them. That’s what this resolution is for!

You should never feel pressured to “change yourself” or make resolutions, but if you’ve been feeling like something needs to change or that it’s time for something new, resolutions are a great way to get the ball rolling. When you feel unmotivated or are tempted to break them, think back to your original desire behind making a resolution in the first place. Maybe you want to be more alert, focused, and present, so you resolved to get to bed earlier and eat better before bed. Maybe you’re tired of hackers and cheaters in FPSes, so you want to see what other genres gaming has to offer. No matter what your reason is, the trick to keeping a resolution is to remember why you started and keep your eyes on the prize.

From all of us at Ritual Motion, have a safe and happy New Year!