Keeping Your Sanity First As A Web Developer
Working in a fast paced environment takes a toll on you. When you are juggling multiple agile projects at the same time, getting overwhelmed is bound to happen. No matter how talented you are or how much experience you have, everybody has a limit on how much work they can do before they need a break.
Don’t let your job damage your mental health because they are not the ones who will have to fix it. Burnout in web development is a huge issue and not enough people take a break before they get to that point. If you feel like you need to throw your computer (or one of the users) off of the roof, it might be time to try a few things.
Take a few days off
You have vacation days for a reason. I know how hard it can be to part with those precious hours, but sometimes you have to do it for yourself. You don’t need an extravagant vacation planned. You don’t need anything planned. Go sit at home for a day or two and relax.
Sometimes you just need a break from the fast pace of it all. Especially if you have been working in sprints. It’s like they never really end. Slowing down and taking the time away from the work will really help you recharge.
The key here is to not use this time to stress about what you might be falling behind on. Completely disconnect yourself from the sprint and everything (and everyone) associated with it. Take this time to focus on anything that’s not related to that sprint. I know this is really easier said than done, but you can do it. If you work somewhere that frowns upon taking time off… well it might be time to start looking elsewhere.
Don’t get back on the computer after work
We’re all basically tech nerds here. A lot of us live and breathe by the computer, maybe literally. 🤷♀️ But when you’re on the verge of major burn out, looking at a computer is one of the last things you need to do. That means no working on that one last thing, no researching that one issue you’re really close to fixing, no nothing.
Shut down the laptop and back away. You have work hours for a reason and that reason does not include extending them. They are in place to help you and your employer set boundaries. Once you have put in your time for the week, you are done.
It might feel good to figure out that complex issue at midnight, but it’s not always good for your mental health when you’ve already worked 9+ hours. You need your own time to do stuff for yourself and to just relax. When you feel like you can do “just one more thing” it’s probably time to stop. Whatever part of the sprint you were on will be there in the morning.
Don’t be afraid to tell your managers no
This can be intimidating because it’s weird to tell your manager no. You have to get used to this though. People will pile on as much work as they can if you don’t say something. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for web developers to work on multiple projects or ridiculously paced sprints.
If you have a hard time saying no to people in general, this could be really hard for you. There’s one big thing you need to keep in mind when you are approaching your mental limit with your job. You are the only one responsible for your life. Most companies brag about their work/life balance, but it’s really up to you to make sure that happens.
It’s great if you love what you do. I know that I definitely enjoy doing this stuff. That’s not the point. At the end of the day, a job is still a job and you need to be able to have a life outside of it without pushing your limits too far. When you notice that the work keeps piling up and they come to you with more, it’s time to say no.
Do something completely not tech related
When you get sucked into the world of code it’s easy to forget about all of the other things you can do that don’t even involve computers. Think about the hobbies you had before you became a web developer and don’t let them die. Sure, learning new frameworks and code is great. It’s just not everything that life is about.
You have to drag yourself out of the tech world from time to time to make sure you can still function as a relatively normal person. You like to cook, do that more often. Learn how to play the ukulele or just go sit outside and look crazy.
Writing code is fun and it’s a cool hobby to have, but when you get that burnt out feeling it’s time to step away. After you regain that bit of lost sanity then you can get back to your code. Although right now, your brain just needs a break. Do something that works a different part of your brain and learn some cool new skills in the process.
Sunlight and fresh air can be elusive to web developers or programmers in general. Most of us work with the dark theme on everything that has one available and we’re mostly inside because of our work and home setups. You don’t have to do any hardcore exercising or parkour to get the benefits of being outside.
Go for a walk around that building you were about to throw your computer off of (at the ground level). Sit on the sidewalk or on a bench at a park. Being outside will get you out of your head for a while and it’ll make you realize how long you’ve been staring at a screen when your eyes take forever to adjust to sunlight.
Take care of your body
Once you hit your coding groove and you’re fixing bugs left and right, it’s easy for the time to fly by. That’s how you end up sitting in the same spot for 5 hours without moving, eating, or drinking. We all know how bad that is.
At the bare minimum at least get up and move around once an hour. You don’t have to go do a full workout, even though that would be great. Just don’t forget to move occasionally. Try keeping healthy snacks at your desk and all of the other stuff that we know we should be doing but we don’t.
Your brain is your biggest asset in this field, but if your body isn’t taken care of it won’t stay that way. Plus you’ll just generally feel like crap.
Burn out is a big reason people leave web development. These are a few things that I had to learn the hard way after getting burnt out way too often. Please don’t let yourself get to that point. Does anybody else have something they want to add?
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