Turning Mental Health Maintenance into a 2-Player Game

Film critic Tasha Robinson shares a delightful story over at The Verge this week, describing how she and her sister have turned their basic life maintenance — and through it, their mental health — into a competitive game.

Achievement Club isn’t great for ongoing resolutions, like “eat more kale” or “learn to speak Spanish.” It won’t help us with abstract life-improvement plans like “travel more” or “make new friends.” But it’s been great for helping us overcome inertia and facing the irritating tasks we’d prefer to postpone. And it’s been interesting how every day, considering one daily task serves as a mindful moment. The endless parade of chores that make up a life can feel like grinding for experience points without actually improving any skills. By looping in someone to monitor our progress, we’re making chores into shared achievements.

I fully acknowledge that this whole process is a little childish. We are literally contacting each other every day to congratulate each other on taking the minimal time and effort to, say, write a thank-you letter, or finally sew up that unraveling cardigan, or finish cleaning the kitchen. We’re sharing pictures of completed projects as if they make us heroes. Even though neither of us are millennials, it’d be understandable if outsiders see this as some kind of Everyone Gets A Trophy Day exercise in self-congratulation. It’s also arguably pretty anal, organizing our minor accomplishments into columns and tracking them like ledger entries.

But it works. We started Achievement Club the week before Christmas, and we haven’t missed a day since. And over the past three weeks, we’ve each gotten through a lot of stupid little tasks we’d been ignoring for months.

Want to try Robinson’s method at home? She goes on to detail more of her methods, but there are other ways to play, too. Apps like Habitica or Epic Win can gamify your day-to-day productivity. Nearly every fitness tracker out there has its own competitive tracking system. If you want to focus specifically on mental health, you can try Superbetter or Happify.

They aren’t all competitive, but if you’re looking for a framework for turning life into more of a game, any one of them would be a great start. Now you just need to find a friend to challenge you (an accountabilibuddy as Doctor B would say), and you’ll be ready to go!

[The Verge]
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