Geek, Health

Self Care for Geeks and Nerds

There are so many advice columns out there on self care. I’m sure you’ve seen them. But you’ve probably noticed that most of them are directed to people who are… not you. They never seem to focus on the nerds and geeks out there who’d rather swing a sword around than move the D&D table to make room for a yoga mat. Or who don’t want to “sit and relax” because 80% of your day is already sitting in front of lines of code. Chances are, some of those self-care tips make you feel more alienated than supported — because gods know you don’t look like the pictures in those magazine articles. So here are some self care tips for geeks and nerds. Remember this the next time you feel like you’re running out of spoons.

You Don’t Always Have to be the Healer

Every party needs one. Every team, group, or table needs a Healer on deck: the person that supports whoever needs it, who offers a hand up after someone falls, that motivates and buffs and keeps the whole group going. And, yeah, you might be more than capable of wielding a big-ass hammer and charging into the fray, but somewhere along the way, it was decided that that’s not really your place. You’re the Healer. And it feels good, sometimes, knowing you’re the sole reason that so many people are still standing after everything that’s come against your friends. There’s a sense of pride in being needed.

But being essential has its downfalls. There’s always a sense of being responsible when things go wrong. The idea that you could have done more. Been more. Because you’re the Healer. You’re always there if someone needs it.

But who heals you?

Listen. Sometimes it’s okay for someone else to take on the Healer’s role. Sometimes it’s okay if you’re on the receiving end of the wand.

It’s okay.

A Game You Feel Obligated to Play is Just Another Job

I think we’ve all been there. The point where you know you’re expected to be ready and in good form by a specific time because the “team is counting on you,” but all you can keep thinking of is “how recently did I use that excuse? Is it worth making up a new one? Or should I just suck it up and play for a few hours? Everyone is counting on me.” And you always have to come up with some sort of excuse, don’t you? Because “Hey. I’m just not feeling it tonight” isn’t good enough in this society. So you force yourself to come up with something good but believable, or you force yourself to play.

“Play” isn’t really the right word anymore, is it? Because that’s not a game. That’s just a job you don’t get paid for. And you can’t really look me in the eye and tell me you don’t have enough jobs already. It’s okay to give up on a game when it’s not fun anymore. Self care is more important than your friends imagined hurt in your absence. I assure you that you’re not hurting them even a tenth of how much you’re hurting you.

Sometimes the Code is Just Broken; and No Amount of Staring is Going to Fix it Tonight

You know when something goes wrong with your computer? What’s one of the first things that even amateur IT personnel know to try? That’s right. Turn it off and turn it on again. Simple, right?

So why do you do everything except that for the computer behind your eyes?

Some problems require a fresh mind and a clean start before they can be tackled. So allow yourself that reboot. Sleep. Realign. Stare at the code when all of your synapses are firing correctly. The problem isn’t going to get fixed tonight, anyway. But if you don’t allow yourself that reboot, then there’s just going to be more problems to face in the morning.

People Will Say Your Hobby is a Waste of Money. Ignore Them.

Math doesn’t lie. On a long enough timeline, and with enough accumulated purchases, everything gets expensive. Magic: The Gathering cards get expensive. Games are expensive. Comics. Computers. Armor. Minis. Books. Art supplies. Swords. Dice. Things that cost money eventually add up. And judgmental people will eventually do the math in their head and tell you that it’s too much. That you “waste” too much.

Screw them. Everything adds up — including whatever hobby they’ve decided is more worthy than yours. But it all costs something. Makeup. Drinks. Clothes. Gym memberships. Hunting supplies. Vacations. Cars. Every person has something that they do in their free time. And, no matter what that thing is, it does eventually add to someone’s version of “too much.” So don’t be ashamed of your “wastes of money.” Self care starts when you find joy in something unapologetically. And as long as you can pay your rent and still enjoy that thing, then it’s no one’s business but yours.

There Will Always be People Who are Better at Your Thing. That’s Okay.

Listen. There will always be someone higher on the leader board. Someone with more wins than you with a deeper understanding of the lore. Faster at making the program do what you want. Better at drawing. Has more sales. Whatever.

The thing is — self care is about focusing on the things you enjoy about something. It’s about finding happiness in what you already have. Sometimes you have to love something just to love it, and not care about whether anyone around you is loving it differently or “more.” Those things don’t matter. Just focus on the happiness Your Thing brings you. And as long as you don’t lose that spark, you’ll never lose yourself amongst the dregs of what others have turned Your Thing into.

Really, Geeks. Try to just be happy in the moment. Be at peace knowing you’ve found something that makes you smile. Many people don’t even have that. But don’t love that thing for other people. Don’t be the Healer just because the team demands it. Don’t play the game just because you feel obligated. And if your brain or heart or soul is begging for rest, don’t let your hobby be the thing that holds it back.

And if anyone or anything tries to worm its way into that thing that makes you happy — tries to sabotage your self care — eschew it. You’re worth more than that.

Infinitely more.