A phrase we’ve been hearing a lot, especially since the pandemic, is “self-care.”
Self-care might not be something you immediately think about with respect to gambling, but it is very important for bettors to practice.
This is especially true for professional gamblers as well as those who are trying to get started as such. But it also matters a lot for casual bettors.
In this post, I am going to explain exactly what self-care is, why it matters, and how you can practice better self-care as a sports bettor or casino gambler.
What is Self-Care?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the term “self-care.” Many people use it casually out of context.
Self-care is not any random thing you do to console yourself whenever something goes wrong.
Bingeing every day on chocolate sundaes, for example, is not “self-care,” nor is compulsive gambling.
Self-care, by definition, must involve supporting your health in some way.
The World Health Organization offers the following definition for self-care:
“The ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
Self-care comprises steps you take across a number of different areas in life to maintain your well-being.
Components of Self-Care
The International Self-Care Foundation (ISF) refers to “pillars” of self-care. These include the following:
Avoiding or mitigating risk
Properly using various services and products
What Self-Care Is Not
As we just discussed, self-care does not include unhealthy habits that you use to try and feel better when you are physically or mentally down.
Self-care also is not a reward you have to “earn” by taking care of other priorities first. Self-care should be among your top priorities at all times, as something you inherently deserve.
Rewarding yourself for hard work and achievements can be a part of your self-care, but self-care itself is not a reward. It is a necessity.
Why is Self-Care Important for Gamblers?
Self-care is important to everyone for the following reasons:
Our healthcare system is overburdened. It can also be hard or impossible to afford many types of professional care.
There are lots of types of daily care that no one can do for you. You have to do them yourself.
Self-care helps to prevent stress from ballooning out of control and sabotaging your physical and mental health.
Practicing self-care can help prevent burnout.
If you are trying to become a professional full-time sports bettor or casino gambler, you are embarking on an intense, lengthy journey. Along the way, you will be working hard every day toward your goals.
It is so easy in a situation like that to end up pushing yourself too hard. If you do, there can be negative health consequences, burnout primary among them.
When those consequences go too far, sometimes they can set you back significantly in your efforts.
Burned out gamblers may:
Be more likely to make errors in their analysis or with their betting slips, resulting in unnecessary losses.
Let slip more tells at the poker tables.
Work more slowly than they usually would, fatiguing easily and accomplishing less each day.
Have more difficulties with emotional regulation, resulting in a higher likelihood of going on tilt.
Give up on their efforts to become professional gamblers, whether temporarily or permanently.
Be more susceptible to compulsive bingeing behaviors, including problem gambling.
Struggle to maintain their basic physical and mental health.
All of these are great reasons to make self-care a part of your overall gambling plan. Taking care of your well-being each day needs to be a priority, not something that goes on the backburner until you get rich.
Have you ever heard the quote, “Live like no one else today so you can live like no one else tomorrow?”
While it is a nice sentiment and certainly has some merit, if you go too far with it, you are actually less likely to reach that tomorrow than you would be if you just took some time and care for yourself today.
Can Gambling Itself be a Form of Self-Care?
Reading through all this, you might be thinking, “Gambling is something fun I do to relax sometimes. It isn’t always hard work. When I am more relaxed, I am stressing less. So, is gambling a form of self-care?”
I would say that depends entirely on how you are approaching it.
As I mentioned before, compulsive gambling is not a form of self-care. By definition, it is an unhealthy behavior. So, even if it makes you feel better in the short term, it will ultimately be damaging in the long term.
In other words, no, you cannot tell your spouse who is complaining about you blowing through your finances every month, “It’s just self-care.” In a situation like that, it is problem gambling, and there are no excuses.
But responsible, controlled gambling that you do with a strict budget could be a form of self-care now and again. It would simply fit under the category of a leisure activity that you do to unwind.
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How Can You Practice Self-Care as a Serious Gambler?
Now that you have some overall context for our discussion on self-care for gamblers, you may be wondering what the best practices are for your own self-care while betting.
First, we will go over recommendations for daily, routine self-care. Then, we will discuss self-care during stressful times.
Here is what you can do on a continuous basis to practice self-care and prevent burnout and other problems.
A Healthy Diet and Plenty of Water
One of the best things you can do for yourself as a gambler is simply to eat a nutritious diet every day and stay hydrated.
A diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, proteins and micronutrients will give your body and mind what they need to stay alert and function at their best while you are working. You will also be taking care of your overall, long-term health by nourishing your body.
When you work hard every day, it can be hard to find the time or the energy to exercise. This is especially true when you have two jobs: a day job that you are working 9-5, and the job of working toward becoming a professional bettor in your after-work hours.
But if you are sedentary, you will not be doing your body or mind any favors. As hard as it may sound, you need to exercise routinely each week.
Even if you do not think you have the time or the energy, you might be surprised what you can manage if you make a commitment out of it. If you have to, just start out with some micro-workouts. Stand up and do some simple exercises in place for 5 minutes at a time now and again throughout the week.
As you get better at squeezing in exercise, you will probably realize you can manage more of it than you expected, and that it helps you feel better.
Incidentally, exercise can also be good for helping to manage anxious feelings, which could be very useful to a gambler.
Be Proactive in Managing Your Health Conditions
No matter how good you are at taking care of yourself, you are going to have acute injuries or illnesses to deal with now and again. You also might have chronic health conditions to manage.
It can be easy to let these things fall by the wayside when you are working hard on your gambling. But telling yourself to just “power through” can have consequences.
For example, say you have occasional migraines. When they show up while you are doing your daily betting analysis, you tend to blow them off, figuring that in a few hours, you’ll be just fine.
But in ignoring them, you might be increasing the chances of your nervous system getting sensitized and the migraines turning chronic.
You also might be more prone to making mistakes while you have a migraine, which could be adversely impacting your betting.
Do not ignore health problems. Instead, actively research treatment ideas. Make an appointment with a healthcare provider if necessary. You might need to take a day off from betting now and again to manage, but in the long run, maintaining your health will help you stay in the game.
Natural Products and Supplementary Treatments
Your doctor might work with you to come up with a plan involving treatments and medications for your health conditions. But there might be more you can do for yourself in addition.
There are supplements on the market that you can try as adjuncts to traditional treatments. There are also alternative wellness services like massage and acupuncture to consider.
You can use supplements and services such as these for wellness too, not just for managing health problems.
If you have your nose to the grindstone working to become a professional sports bettor, it would not be a surprise if you are working late into the night many days of the week.
All too often, sleep is one of the casualties of an entrepreneurial spirit. But getting a full night of sleep each night is one of the simplest but most effective forms of self-care available to you.
Bettors who do not get enough sleep struggle with fatigue, poor concentration and learning, and a tendency to make mistakes. Lacking sleep also just makes you feel physically bad.
Over time, as your sleep deficit grows, these issues can get worse and worse. And if it goes too far, do not be surprised if you find yourself struggling to stay awake while you are betting!
Do your best to get as much sleep as you need each night. It might mean that you cannot spend quite as much time on your betting as you would like, but that is okay. You will continue to make progress toward your goals. It might feel like it is slow-going, but you will actually be going faster than you would without adequate sleep.
Something else a devoted entrepreneur might let go while striving to become a professional gambler is hygiene.
Hopefully, you are laughing while reading this, thinking you would never fail in this department. But it can be surprisingly easy to let bad hygiene sneak up on you.
It might start with just skipping a shower once or twice a week, but before you know it, you are only showering once or twice a week.
Your hygiene is important not just for your physical health, but also for your appearance, sense of self-esteem, and overall feeling of well-being.
Personal grooming falls into this area too. Even though cutting your hair, shaving, and so on might be more aesthetic than practical, they can still be an important part of your self-care.
With self-care, it is easy to focus mainly on what you are doing directly to take care of your body and mind, but you also should pay attention to how you are managing your environment.
The quality of our environment has a big impact on our physical health, mental state, and overall functioning.
As a sports bettor or casino gambler, you need an environment that is not just healthy in general, but helps you to stay focused and calm while you are betting.
Hopefully you have some control over where you live, and who you live with. But regardless, you should at the very least try to set aside a space specifically for your gambling, one in which you can expect a reasonable degree of privacy for distraction-free betting.
The easier it is for you to concentrate, the less you will have to work at it mentally. That will help to reduce the overall fatigue you experience as you research, handicap, and wager.
Another important thing to do for self-care is to schedule regular breaks during your work day.
If you have a difficult time remembering to do this on your own, you can try setting a timer to remind yourself to get up from your computer, stretch, walk around, and clear your mind.
Taking breaks like this helps you to reduce fatigue, prevent burnout, and come back refreshed and able to concentrate more fully on your betting.
It also gives you a moment to think and take stock of what you are doing. If your emotions have been ramping up, you can take a moment to regulate them so that you can return to wagering with a more level head.
When we talk about risk management with respect to self-care, we usually are talking about mitigating health risks.
But in a betting context, it is appropriate to talk about money management. Even though this concerns your financial health, in a way, it still also concerns your overall health indirectly.
If you do a poor job managing risk while betting, you can experience uncontrolled drawdown in your account. This in turn can have an adverse effect on your mental health. If it turns into a chronic issue, it probably will also start eventually impacting your physical health.
That is why you should actually consider it to be part of your self-care to set reasonable stake sizes and have smart money management rules that help you protect your financial well-being.
Reward Yourself for Hard Work
Earlier, we talked about how self-care itself is not a reward to be earned, but rather a necessity and a priority at all times.
But rewarding yourself specifically for meeting milestones or putting in extra work on your sports betting can still be a form of self-care. It is a way for you to be kind to yourself and offset some of your stress with things that produce positive emotions.
To understand how this fits into the broader picture of self-care as a necessity, look at it like this. Rewarding yourself for hard work should not be optional or a luxury; it should be a priority.
Just remember that a binge is not a reward. Your rewards need to be healthy.
Keep Balance In Your Life
One more pro tip for ongoing self-care as a sports bettor is to try and keep life in balance at all times. This can be so hard when you are trying to start a new career as a gambler, because you just want to put in all the hours that you can to strive toward your goal.
You likely know that only a minority of people who try to gamble professionally will ever succeed. You figure you need to be willing to go not the extra mile, but the extra hundred miles to be among them.
But life needs balance to stay healthy. We have already talked about how you should keep prioritizing sleep, diet, exercise, and other aspects of your physical health. But you should also keep prioritizing time spent with friends and family, your day job, other projects and hobbies, and some degree of leisure. Basically, you should not neglect things that bring meaning into your life.
Self-Care When You Get Overwhelmed
If you follow the recommendations above, you are a lot less likely to become overwhelmed or burned out while you work toward your betting goals.
But now and again, you are still going to end up getting stressed by your betting. Losing streaks happen.
Plus, sometimes it is actually other aspects of your life that are overwhelming, but when you try to add in gambling on top of those things, you find yourself struggling.
Below are some recommendations for what to do during those times.
Take Time to Decompress
I talked earlier about the importance of taking regular breaks on a typical workday. But when you are facing atypical levels of stress, you sometimes need to take more time off.
It is perfectly okay to take a few days off from betting to get your head back in the right place (or sometimes even a few weeks).
Chances are good you will only lose money if you keep betting while you are super overwhelmed, so taking a break can be the responsible thing to do.
Plus, while you are doing something else for a few days, you might discover exactly the insights you need to improve your gambling. Changes in perspective and fresh ideas can show up in unexpected contexts.
Spend Time In Nature
Most of us do not get to spend nearly as much time outside as we should. Being out in nature can have considerable benefits for mental and physical health, so much so that in Japan, there is a popular practice for self-care called “forest bathing.”
It isn’t just the fresh air that is good for you, but also escaping from the chaos of everyday life, even if it is just for a few hours or even a few minutes at a time.
When you are out in nature, you are surrounded by plants, animals, rocks and trees, none of which are concerned with or even aware of your problems.
While that does not make those problems go away, it can help you to step outside of yourself for a moment and perhaps see a world beyond your difficulties.
It can be hard to find solutions to challenges from within them, as they appear so vast. So, expanding your perspective in this way can be valuable from a problem-solving standpoint. Problems that appear finite are easier to examine and tackle.
It can also be refreshing psychologically to see your problems as smaller, and may help you to feel more capable of handling life’s challenges.
Don’t Take On Too Many Commitments
Sometimes in life, everything piles up at once. You have a proposal due at work. Your best friend’s wedding is coming up. Your mother-in-law is coming over. Also, you are planning your wagers for an upcoming sporting event.
If you are already struggling to keep up with your existing commitments, the last thing you need to do is take on more if you can avoid it.
So, if possible, at times like this, you should try saying “No” more often than you usually would. It can be hard to be assertive when you feel like you have to bend over backwards to accommodate everyone. But no one has infinite time and energy, and proper self-care requires some boundaries.
With those boundaries in place, you will have more time and energy left for your betting, and you will be able to focus more on the task at hand.
Spend Extra Time On Leisure
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you need a way to snap your mind out of that state and into one that is more relaxed.
One of the most effective ways to do that is just to have fun. Obviously, you still need to keep up with your commitments, but if you can even just make a little bit of extra time during your week to do something purely for enjoyment, it can be well worth it.
If you play responsibly, that activity could even be gambling. If you spend all your time working hard at sports betting or poker, maybe just give yourself an evening where you play nothing but easy games like slots to unwind.
Do Something Nice For Yourself
Related to the above, when you are overwhelmed with stress and obligations, it is good to just do something kind for yourself that you might not otherwise do.
For instance, it could be something as small and simple as buying yourself a tasty beverage or dessert that you would normally forgo, or adding an extra $20 to your betting account for the month.
Little things like these can make a surprising amount of difference in your mood, and act as a reminder that you care about yourself and your well-being. This in turn can boost your self-esteem and overall mental health.
Show Generosity To Others
One more thing you can do that can bolster your sense of well-being when you are overwhelmed is to help somebody else.
Even if you are having a difficult time managing your own life, perhaps you can offer solutions and ideas to someone in need. For example, it could be another bettor on a forum who is struggling with something you overcame a long time ago.
When you can make that kind of change in someone else’s life, it can increase your confidence that eventually something will help you past whatever you are struggling with. You can also experience a sense of joy that you put some extra good out into the universe.
Taking Care of Yourself is Critical for Betting Success
Now we have thoroughly explored the concept of self-care. Without self-care, you may have a hard time wagering responsibly and profitably. But with self-care, you can make progress toward your goals as a bettor.
You also now have a lot of ideas for what you can do to take care of your physical and mental health as a gambler. Keep exploring our site to discover other posts about betting psychology.
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