How to Increase Your Esports Wellbeing using the PERMA Model

Posted by Rob Davies February 3, 2022 in AdviceEsports

Introduction

Currently within esports there is a need to develop more holistic wellbeing practices and strategies to support all levels of gamers. With esports continuing to grow in popularity and with more professional and semi-professional teams entering the arena there is a growing responsibility of these teams to look after the wellbeing of their esports athletes. Indeed, with the impact of Covid-19 there’s a responsibility on all of us to try and look after our wellbeing some more.

As more and more people take up esports on a casual basis they also need a resource that they can use and understand in how to increase their wellbeing as they pursue their gaming. It is sadly all too common within both professional and casual gamers to have a decrease in their mental health, wellbeing and overall lifestyle health1.

The PERMA model created by Martin Seligman2, is an easy-to-understand model of wellbeing that can be incorporated into esports to support holistic wellbeing among gamers. Professional esports teams can also use the model to build frameworks around athlete wellbeing and so enhance the culture and the performance of their team in a whole person and humanistic approach.

PERMA Model

So firstly, what is the PERMA model?

Based in positive psychology the PERMA model has five elements: Positive emotion; Engagement; Relationships; Meaning and purpose; and Accomplishment (PERMA).  The PERMA model provides the proposed building blocks of wellbeing6 and has been proven to be a good measure of subjective wellbeing. The presence of one element means it’s more likely to have other elements present too, which increases your basic foundations of wellbeing7. The PERMA model has been applied to interventions intended to reduce depressive symptoms8 and burnout9 which both have high prevalence in esports10, 11.

Below is a little more information on each element:

PERMA2
  • Positive Emotion
    Positive emotion is the ability, opportunity, and experience of feeling positive emotions such as happiness, satisfaction, joy, and the many other ways of describing good feelings.
  • Engagement
    Engagement is the opportunity to be fully engaged and be completely immersed in activities. These activities you engage in can make you lose your sense of time and feel boundless energy.
  • Relationships
    The ability to create strong relationships and communities is strongly correlated to happiness, health, and overall wellbeing. Improving relationships can greatly increase wellbeing.
  • Meaning
    Having meaningful activities brings a sense of purpose and fulfilment to daily life. A sense of purpose often accompanies activities which contribute to something larger than self.
  • Accomplishment
    Having suitably challenging goals to accomplish brings a sense of achievement and satisfaction to life, contributing to the feeling of well-being.

 

The integration of a positive psychology framework, such as PERMA, in professional esports teams and in your daily life can support in increasing your motivation for engaging in more healthy lifestyle behaviours and lead to a higher level of wellbeing and flourishing. The awareness of the elements of PERMA is a great starting point to develop you or your team’s wellbeing.

It is also important to point out that the PERMA model has had plenty of research on its ability to help increase subjective wellbeing3. When looking slightly past PERMA for fully holistic wellbeing, other elements such as physical health, mindset, environment, and economic security3 are also very important to consider and professional esports teams need to incorporate these elements as well.

However, to keep things simple we’ll just explore how using PERMA can support your wellbeing in esports. Building a solid foundation of habits that aid wellbeing is the key starting step, so keep an eye on future blogs to find out more information on how to build up a more holistic view of wellbeing once you put the initial steps into practice.

How to Use PERMA to Enhance Wellbeing in Esports

So now we have a basic awareness of the PERMA model, but how do we incorporate it into esports and everyday life? Remember that using PERMA in everyday life is a way of building the foundations for overall wellbeing. Wellbeing is a multifaceted and personal area that combines many different elements, not least of all personal circumstances as described above.

Let’s break down each element for you and show how you can use these to enhance your wellbeing.

Positive Emotion

In more casual gamers there has been an increase in research that links moderate game play with positive emotions4 and has also been associated with a means of relaxation and stress reduction5. In traditional sport and physical activity it’s been found to provide people with numerous different positive emotions, such as joy of winning and achieving goals, excitement, or appreciation of excellence in oneself and others13.

Some of the benefits of increasing your positive emotion are an association with broadened cognition, enhanced awareness and the ability to solve problems more effectively14,15, which are all massively important for esports performance. They can also support in building resilience and helping you to bounce back from negative emotional experiences14,15. Positive emotions can also predict success in sports16 and support in creating a thriving performance environment17, something esports teams should be striving for.

Here's three ways you can increase your positive emotions in esports:

  1. Practice what went well: After a game write down a few points on what went well during the game and your performance.
  2. Gratitude journal: At the end of the day write down three things you’re grateful for about esports and being able to play.
  3. Acts of kindness: If you’re playing with a noob or someone with less experience, don’t start to rage, reach out with an act of kindness to help them become a bit better.

Engagement

Engagement in esports can be seen as dedication and concentration with the opportunity to use and develop your strengths. The holy grail of engagement is the feeling of “flow” or being “in the zone” and this is typically experienced in clearly structured activities in which the level of challenge and skill can be varied and controlled, such as esports. The benefits of flow are well researched18, but most importantly it’s associated with peak performance18.

Here's three ways you can increase your engagement in esports:

  1. Strength’s spotting: Actively seek to notice what your strengths are in a game and how you can use those strengths. You can also notice what people are doing when they are at their best.
  2. Mindfulness Practice: We’ll talk about this in a future blog, however using mindfulness techniques such as mindful breathing can help your engagement.
  3. Understand your current goals and abilities: Really learn where your current abilities are and then create goals to progress step by step. If you rush, you’ll lose engagement and love for the game.

Relationships

Most esports games are a team game, and within traditional team sports collaboration and mutual support can have a positive effect on an individual’s performance13. This is no different in esports.

The relationships and interactions that takes place in social environments hugely affects someone’s perception of themselves and their growth and development17,19. And, not surprisingly, people who form and maintain satisfactory relationships in these environments seem to be happier than those who don’t19.

Developing strong relationships within your team is essential. For more casual players, esports has an incredible community to engage with and develop relationships in. Esports Wales have a diverse and friendly Discord chat where if you can talk with fellow gamers about any game, and this isn’t the only group you can join, there are literally hundreds!

Here's three ways you can foster your relationships in esports:

  1. Caring Coaching: If you’re the coach of a team, then genuinely caring about your players is the start to building positive relationships within the environment.
  2. Social Events: As I said earlier, esports has an amazing community. Organising social events with other players, going to tournaments and other face-to-face social activities are great to develop strong relationships. I’ll caveat the face-to-face events with saying only if you feel safe to do so.
  3. Active Constructive Responding (ACR): This is a way of responding when someone shares good experiences or information with you. If you (as the receiver of the good news) can actively and constructively respond, it can provide a boost to both yours and the other person’s wellbeing and also build the relationship between both of you20.

Meaning

People with have many different reasons for wanting to engage in esports, and not just as a gamer, but as an events manager, developer, coach, etc. Whatever the reason is, finding esports meaningful is crucial to wellbeing.

Understanding and using your strengths is fundamental to your identity and when you’re confident in using them within the esports industry, you can feel able to be your true self 22, further deepening your sense of meaning in esports and life23. The good thing is these strengths are positive and teachable and they are considered to be sources of satisfaction, happiness, and success in life21.

Here's three ways you can increase your meaning in esports:

  1. Team strength meetings: Have regular meetings on identifying yours and your teammates’ strengths and the overall team’s strengths and how they can be used not just in gaming, but in everyday situations and in the wider esports community.
  2. Autonomy-Supportive Coaching: As an esports coach, using autonomy-supportive coaching strategies can increase meaning in sport24 that crosses over into esports.
  3. Find your Why: As well as learning and understanding your strengths, developing your “why” is important to meaning. Why are you in esports? Why does it give you joy playing? Why are you fascinated with a certain aspect of a game?

Accomplishment

Achieving goals in general is important for our wellbeing. The gaming industry is an industry that knows how achieving goals will keep you playing, just look at Xbox’s Achievements, Playstation’s Trophies and Steam’s Achievements and granted these probably weren’t intended to increase your wellbeing. But it does feel good when you get an achievement!

Developing meaningful and appropriately challenging short and long-term goals for you to achieve is essential for wellbeing. Again, in the esports industry this doesn’t have to mean just with gaming. As an esports events manager it might be to get 200 people to an event you’re setting up, or as an esports streamer it may be to get your first 50 views. There is a lot to talk about with goal-setting and understanding process and outcome goals which I’ll write about in a future blog, but for now, just concentrate on developing goals that are based on your strengths and values as a person.

Within esports teams it is crucial to provide your athletes with concrete means of achieving their goals as well as constant personal support and feedback about performances25.

Here's three ways you can develop your accomplishments in esports:

  1. Have clear expectations: Understand where you are and where you want to get to and have clear expectations about what is needed to accomplish this.
  2. Goal setting: Use process goals to support your goal setting and focus on creating challenging, but appropriate goals. This can be at an individual level or as a team.
  3. Celebrate your success: When you’ve accomplished a goal celebrate it, give yourself time to really be happy with what you’ve accomplished.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of information in this blog to digest, but what’s important is that use try and use some of it as a building block for your wellbeing. To start with you could just pick one of the elements of the model and work on increasing that area of your wellbeing. This will actually help you in achieving the other areas later on down the line. Start with small steps and you’ll start to see the difference in your wellbeing.

If you an esports coach then integrating the PERMA model into coaching philosophy is an area that is increasing in interest12. If an esports coach wants to use a more positive method and practice to coach their players, then incorporating PERMA can be a way of doing this12. It’s an interesting area of coaching philosophy that could bring with it many benefits if applied right.

Written by Rob Davies

Website: https://www.altaperformancepsychology.com/esports

Twitter: @Robs_Davies92
Instagram: @AltaPerformancePsychology

Rob is an Elite Athlete and eSports Wellbeing Coach with multiple years of experience coaching professional athletes around the world in strength and conditioning. He is now a qualified athlete wellbeing coach and training as a sports psychologist, he supports athletes holistically to manage the stressors of sport. Within eSports he uses his strength and conditioning, wellbeing, and sport psychology background to support eSports athletes on all physical and mental aspects to help them reach their performance goals and have a healthier lifestyle as they do it.

 

References

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