Who me? Why do I need to worry about my mental health? I'm not crazy.
Have you ever felt like shit after playing? We all have. Have you ever felt "down" after playing poorly? We all have.
How do you recover from it? Here's how I do it.
- Take time to reflect on your behavior, your thoughts and actions. But how?
As a part of writing your hand histories, take careful note of your thoughts and feelings during the tournament or session.
I am not saying to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist, but making yourself aware of your thoughts and feelings is a key component of learning positivity.
How do I stay positive when everything around me is going to crap?
First, relax. Think of it this way. It's a kidney stone, this too shall pass. Deep breathing exercises work well here. Second, learn to eliminate distractions both at the table and in your study sessions. Why eliminate distractions? An uncluttered mind functions better. An uncluttered mind allows you to relax more readily. A clear headed approach to poker is one of the keys to understanding and learning.
One thing I do before a tournament is a technique I call "clearing the mechanism". Please refer to my post on tournament prep for more details.
A very overlooked factor in your mental health is sleep. I have 1 unshakable rule with regards to sleep or lack thereof - NEVER PLAY POKER IF YOU ARE TIRED, ANGRY OR HUNGRY.
Most of y'all will get the tired part but angry and hungry? Let's examine angry first. Playing poker when you're angry is nearly an exercise in futility. Your mind is preoccupied with your anger. Your decision making is compromised.
Playing while hungry? Huh? What? That growling in your tummy is a warning sign that you have neglected something important - FOOD!!!! One thing I have done lately is to carry a high protein snack in my tournament bag. My snack is usually a mix of peanuts, cheez-its and pretzels. It's quick, easy and not messy. There is nothing worse than handling chips and cards AFTER someone is eating and doesn't care to clean their hands - YUK!!!!
How does this relate to your mental health? Remember what I said in an earlier post about looking my best to play my best? Same thing goes for your brain and gut. Stimulate your brain in order to keep it healthy. Same goes for food. Eat healthy to be healthy.