Disclaimer: this is an opinion piece
Grassroots organizers are the foundation of esports. They spend their free time hosting tournaments and building communities for little to no monetary gain. Some want to build a small tight-knit community, while others are trying to turn their passion into a career that they can dedicate themselves to full-time. No matter who you are, there’s a very high chance that you’ll at some point have to deal with the stress and strain on your mental health that can come with grassroots organizing.
My name is Kasper and for the past six years, I have dedicated my evenings and weekends to grassroots movements. During this period of time, I’ve experienced the highs of building a thriving community, but also the lows of severe burnout. I’d like to share with you my main takeaways and best tips on how to organize esports tournaments in your free time while also taking care of your mental health and avoiding burnout. Please note that I am no expert on mental health or burnout, and this is simply my opinion based on my experiences.
I’ve found that it’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of taking on more and more projects to the point where it just becomes too much to handle at once. At some point, you need to draw a line in the sand, take a step back and figure out what’s actually important to you. What made you fall in love with esports in the first place? Which parts excite you the most? What do you hope to get out of your organizing? By answering these questions you’ll find what drives you and where your passion lies. My advice is to throw the rest aside and put your focus on what you’re truly passionate about.
Physical activity can be an effective way to mitigate stress and negative emotions as the brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. Finding a fun activity that suits you, such as a sport or workout routine, will go a long way toward making physical activity a natural part of your schedule. For some, this may feel like a mountain to climb. Trust me, it doesn’t have to be. Just going for a short walk every day can do wonders by activating your body, getting some fresh air and offering you the opportunity to clear your mind. Personally, I’ve found going for a walk right before the start of a tournament to be the most effective as it gives me a change of scenery and helps me focus on the task at hand.
One of the best ways to avoid stress and overworking is to share the workload with others. Doing it all on your own can be incredibly difficult and I’d highly encourage you to put cooperation at the core of your operations. Sharing the workload can be tricky because you might not trust someone else to do it better. But you need to let it go. It’s a great opportunity to teach others while practicing collaboration without micromanagement. Not only have I saved myself from a lot of stress by delegating to and cooperating with others, but we’ve also managed to produce greater results than I’d ever been able to on my own.
Don’t have anyone to share the workload with? Look for people within your community who are eager to help out, or reach out to and collaborate with other organizers who share your passion!
Planning ahead is key. Sometimes I find myself anxious over a mountain of work that needs doing but without any real plan of when to do it or where to start. I’ll start picking away at it, but feel guilt and stress whenever I take a break or have time off since I know that there’s a lot that needs to be done without a clear path forward. My advice is to map out what happens when and block off time in your calendar for specific tasks, rather than dedicating an unspecified amount of time to vague tasks. Having a clear idea of what to do when will help increase your productivity and allow you to completely take your mind off of it once you’ve finished the specific task of that day.
This is the big one. Having your life completely revolve around work will eventually lead to burnout. Having a healthy balance is everything, as is true for most things in life. Taking time to relax, spending time with friends and family and participating in other hobbies will help recharge your batteries and give you renewed energy to come back even stronger.
However, you may feel that finding a gap in your busy schedule is easier said than done. That is where my previous tips come in. By focusing on what’s important to you, staying active, sharing the workload and planning ahead you will not only lay the personal foundation for improved mental health but also the structural foundation for being able to take time off and focus on yourself.
Obviously, this is not the end-all-be-all of mental health guides for esports organizers. Mental health is not an equation with an objectively right solution, we all work differently and learn about ourselves in our own way and pace. Hopefully, you’ll be able to extract something from my experiences and apply it to your own life in one way or another. Figure out what works best for you and take the best care of yourself that you possibly can. You deserve it!