Every year we raise awareness of mental health, the importance of supporting one another and the tools we can use, but it shouldn’t just be highlighted once a year. Supporting and promoting good mental health should be part of our everyday lives.
Like in any profession, working in tech can be stressful at times, especially for software developers - and even more so for developers that work remotely! However, it’s important to stay mentally healthy and remember that both your physical and mental health comes before work (it really does!).
Of course, not everyone will experience the same mental health problems, some may not even struggle at all, but we wanted to highlight some of the ways in which software developers can maintain good mental health ⬇️
Don’t overwork yourself 🧑💻
Being a developer isn’t the 9-5 job that everyone thinks it is. There’ll be many occasions when big projects overrun with deadlines needing to be met, or bugs in your code cause delays which may take longer than expected to fix. But, if it can wait, let it.
Burnout happens quite regularly for most developers, so it’s important to take regular breaks. If you find yourself getting distracted or losing focus, then it’s time to take a break from your computer (as well as to give your eyes a rest). Taking short breaks often, rather than longer ones less often, is better - for example, 5 to 10 minutes every hour is better than 20 minutes every 2 hours.
No matter your work environment, whether you work from an office or at home, taking a walk on your lunch break can help maintain good mental health. In fact, any form of exercise can help to reduce and eradicate negative thoughts.
Battle imposter syndrome 🕵️
If you think you might have imposter syndrome, know that you're not alone - 70% of people suffer from it at some point in their lives. Never compare yourself to others - everyone is on a different journey. It's not the end of the world if you feel like you can't do something. Remember, you are not your thoughts.
Reflect on how far you have come and what you have achieved and this will be the main factor to carry you forward. You are more than capable of what you set out to do! Keep going 👏
If you find that you're constantly comparing yourself to others in the tech world, try deleting your social media apps and taking a break from social media.
Try meditation 🧘
It can be hard to curb/bin those negative thoughts and feelings instantly, but there are many tools at hand to help. If we think about it, we never really focus on one thing at a time - developers are constantly juggling tasks, answering Slack messages and dipping in and out of meetings.
Mediation can help to refocus the brain and gain clarity. Why not try downloading a meditation app like Calm or Headspace to get you in the zone. Finding just 5 or 10 minutes in your day to really focus, whether that’s right before you get to coding or last thing at night, can help to promote good mental health.
Work-life balance ⚖️
If we’ve learnt anything these past couple of years, it’s that work isn’t everything! We shouldn’t be focused on work all of the time, as much as you might love what you do.
Try to find another passion in your life, try out a new hobby and find the time to socialise with friends and family! Of course, if your one passion is coding, then why not try out mentoring others, attend hackathons or even meetups and socialise with other developers. Finding downtime is incredibly important as a developer.
Don’t be afraid to speak up 📣
Lastly, it’s not embarrassing or degrading to share your thoughts and feelings. Be proud to be able to speak up and ask for help if you need it. In some cases, the person you speak to will have at some point experienced the same so they’ll be able to resonate with you and share their tips/tricks to overcoming these negative feelings.
You are not alone in your journey in tech. There are plenty of others around you who can help and support you in your role. Reach out to your peers and never believe that you have to carry everything on your shoulders - if you feel like you aren’t being fully supported within your role, then maybe it’s time to move on.
As a developer, networking is one of the biggest tools you can leverage from. Not only can networking help you to expand your knowledge and skills, but it allows you to reach out and check in with others in tech. Even though social media can be toxic and thought-provoking in some ways, it’s a great platform for software developers to be able to reach out to one another. For example, Twitter has such a great community of developers 💛
Most importantly, be kind to other developers.