I’ve been thinking a lot about limits and boundaries lately, both in-game and out.
Warning: Personal Stuff of the Type I Normally Don’t Discuss Ahead
Over the past month, my real life has grown increasingly chaotic. My husband interviewed for multiple positions and found one at a university several states over. Unfortunately, this now means we have to quickly sell our current home in a difficult market, which is proving to be both difficult (not surprisingly) and stressful. We also have to find a new place to live and a new job for yours truly. Meanwhile, our friends and family have been suffering through all manner of crises which we have attempted to aid them in dealing with – everything from the enormous trauma of divorce and death to the more minor concerns of setting foot into the ever-bewildering world of dating for the first time.
End of Personal Stuff of the Type I Normally Don’t Discuss
Needless to say, this has meant that WoW has been pretty low on our radar lately and WoW blogging, sad to say, even lower. But our need for WoW, for that stress relief of dodging about poking pixels with sharp sticks and making other pixels feel better with the clever use of green swirlies, has been pretty high.
As I was pondering all of this, I put together a little guide of tips for knowing when and how to set limits for yourself.
There are any number of things which may cause you to realize a need for reorganizing your time and setting limits:
- Anything that requires you to change your insurance forms (birth, death, marriage, divorce, new job, etc)
- A feeling of complete apathy in-game or out-of-game
- Worries that you might be spending too much or too little time in-game
- Your guild turns into Melrose Place
- Any realization that things “the way they are” aren’t working out properly…the need for change!
So that leads us to:
When things get crazy either in-game or out (and things always have a way of getting crazy!), how does one set balanced limits between WoW and real life?
- Get your priorities straight. This sounds pretty obvious, but for a lot of us, it’s really hard to do. The healer in me wants to be there for everyone, always, but the human being in me knows that that’s impossible. So I look at the things going on in my life, and I carve out priorities based on my personal needs and, as much as possible, the needs of those around me. 10-man raid? Unless I don’t have access to a computer or a loved one’s life is exploding into chaos, those two 3-hour sessions every week are a really important part of my routine. During them everything else drops away, and my mind is laser-focused on healing and progression. I can be myself around my fellow raiders, and we spend a lot of time joking in between all the killing. So once we get past Cleaning/Selling Home, Finding New Place to Live, Eating, Sleeping, and Showering, and we finally get to Playing WoW, 10-man raiding is my top in-game priority. Even if I don’t get a chance to log on at all for the rest of the week :(, I know I’ll be logging on for that. 25-man raids? One of them occurs during a time when we’ll probably have people wandering through our home, so I’ll probably cut back on those considerably.
- Once you’ve figured out your priorities, don’t be afraid to let your Raid Leader and guildies know what’s going on. You don’t have to force them to be your shrink, but letting them know that you’ve got a lot going on in real life, even without getting specific, can result in a stress relief all its own. If you’ve got warm and fuzzy guildies/raid-members, they might even be able to provide support you never expected – ideas on how to deal with potential absences, in-game support, an extra heroic run when they see that you actually had a free night to log on (if you’re in a too-busy-to-play-a-lot situation like myself). If you try to hide away from the realities of your situation, you will find yourself more stressed out trying to juggle too many commitments, and your behavior is likely to start looking erratic to those around you who have no idea what’s going on. So be up front from the start, and your Raid Leaders and guildies will thank you for it.
- Remember to take time for yourself. Whether it’s 20 minutes of picking herbs in-game, watching a favorite TV show, or even just lying in bed thinking about nothing, everyone needs to take a break now and then. Whatever situation you are going through will be there whether you herb or not, so don’t forget to take some time off from the [whatever reason things are wacky now] to give yourself some stress-free downtime and let your brain wander. You’ll be all the better prepared to waltz back into the chaos afterwards.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away. Whether it’s from your guild, WoW, or some stressful situation in your real life, Dr. Leo Marvin’s advice is timeless: “Take a vacation from your problems.” WoW should be a playground of fun, a place you can take a mini-holiday to Talk Like A Pirate or shoot giant beetles. If it’s become a place where you dread to log on because of the Neverending Green Text of Doom or dire whispers about your attendance, take an extended vacation from the part of the game causing you trouble or the whole game itself. And while you probably don’t want to storm off in rage, you’d be surprised at how often people step up to the plate and are understanding and supportive, especially when you keep the lines of communication open.
Needing to set limits on anything is no fun (hence everyone’s hatred of dieting, abstinence, and teetotaling). Recognizing that you need some limits and setting them can actually be a huge source of stress relief in and of itself. Remember that the people who really care (in WoW and out) will be there once the crisis is over or the permanent changes are implemented. 🙂