How To Cope with Stress as A Software Developer

A 2021 study found that up to 51% of software developers and engineers reported being less productive when working from home, citing factors such as personal distractions as well as emotional issues. While some organizations are pushing to shift back to office work, these emotional issues, along with feelings of stress and anxiety, have yet to be resolved. In fact, they were uncommon for developers, even before the pandemic.

One reason for this stress is the growth of the computer and software industry. Indeed, a career in general in this field is often considered highly competitive. The number of computer and information technology occupations are expected to increase by 12% from 2018 to 2028, as technology continues to drive change across industries. Software developer jobs, specifically, are predicted to grow by 21% during this time period, along with the world’s use of mobile applications and security programs. Due to this rising demand, it’s easy to feel pressured by a need to stand out and outperform other developers to keep up with the fast-paced needs of various industries. Today, we’ll discuss some effective but simple ways to cope with stress in this line of work:

Take breaks

Working with a computer or phone screen for long periods of time can be disorienting. It’s hard to keep track of time when you’re so tuned in to a current project. Before you know it, you’re 13 hours in without proper sleep or rest away from the screen — and you’re stressed. Digital work can be easy to get lost in, so most people time themselves while working. Not so that they can work faster, necessarily, but so that you can divide your work into comprehensible time blocks and slip in much needed breaks in between.

The famous Pomodoro method recommends five minute breaks in between work sessions, for example, but this has been modified over the years to accommodate the kind of breaks you need. It’s imperative that you reserve these breaks, no matter how short or long, for non-work activities. You deserve it. You can grab some snacks, do some stretches at your desk, feed your pets — whatever gets you away from work for a while.

Choose a healthy lifestyle

We’ve written about healthy routines for software engineers in the past, and as much as they are beneficial for your physical health — preventing backaches and stiff necks from staring at screens all day — they are also good for keeping stress at bay. It’s no secret that maintaining a healthy body helps you keep a healthy mind. Plus, your condition can set the tone before your day (or night) of work even begins. Ultimately, your goal should be to make sure that you have enough sleep, exercise, and nutrition to have the energy to solve problems and answer questions while you work.

Living a healthy lifestyle can help your mind function better under pressure and boost your creativity. If you find it hard to separate from your digital time, consider apps that can help you make healthier lifestyle decisions, like a comprehensive grocery list app to help keep track of those healthier options.

Ask for help

At the end of the day, some things happen out of our control, and when this occurs, learn to know that it’s okay to ask for help. Working with a screen — or multiple —can be an isolating experience. It can be hard to ask for help, especially when you’re used to doing things alone, but some problems are just better solved with someone else.

You can start small by asking your colleague or team leader questions, instead of wasting hours contemplating how to ask for help. Like the Pomodoro method we mentioned above, sometimes it helps to break problems into smaller ones if it helps you feel less intimidated about reaching out for help. Remember that most times, people are willing to help, and even those who can’t may still help direct you to someone who can.

Article written by Regina James
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