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How to manage stress as a developer

The Admired Dev
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The Admired Dev

I was describing, in the first commodity of this series about stress, one of my panic attacks when I was alive at my first job as a developer, 10 years ago.

I was basically a mess at the time: I had a very demanding job and, in order to relax, I was partying a lot. I was mainly bubbler and smoking, at a point where I could not even bethink half of the evening.

I was just after what I anticipation was true: partying hard with my accompany was the best way to abate my stress. After it, I anticipation I wouldn’t be able to deal with my able bearings anymore. I was alive like crazy not to lose my job: 10 to 12 hours a day, and sometimes the weekends.

Even if I was partying with many friends, I was activity very abandoned at the same time.

One year and a half later, exhausted, unhappy, activity deeply unsatisfied, I burned out. Nothing was really important anymore, abnormally accompanying to my job. I used to love programming since I was a kid but, at that point, I hated it.

I put all the fault on the industry itself.

After taking a break, I accepted that I needed to do some changes in my life. Making everybody around me amenable for my action was too easy. It wasn’t absolutely wrong, but it wasn’t absolutely right either: I knew I could be in ascendancy of some aspects of my life, and I was bent to regain that control.

I experimented with other ways to deal with my stress, trying to come back to more . It took me many years. I failed many times but, today, I’m more than happy about the results.

I would like to share what I found during these years apropos this very important topic: stress and anxiety. It has been more than two years now that I have implemented very strong habits in my life in order to be happier on a daily basis, more effective, and more energized.

As always, I don’t ask you to follow my advice blindly. You need to try them by yourself and see if it works for you.

Step by step is the best way to improve.

Enough mumbling. Let’s begin.

Social support

During periods of stress, you  to rely on your social environment. Unfortunately, in our field, we have addiction to hide our struggles, abnormally mental accompanying ones.

We don’t speak about it. We don’t want to feel weak, unworthy, and not in control. We pretend to ourselves, and, therefore, to the others, that aggregate is fine.

This is a big mistake.

Chronic stress can lead you to dark roads: more austere mental health issues like all-overs and burnout, depression, or hate of your job and aggregate absorbed to it.

Support from your relatives

Speaking with the bodies close to you about your stress will be the most effective: your adherent / boyfriend, your family, your close friends.

One of the longest studies on happiness shows that mental health is acerb activated with the people who are close to you. Seek their help.

Why is it good to  your problems by speaking about them, you might ask?

  • Explaining your attempt can cast a altered light on them. You will see them abnormally if you clear them with words.
  • Other people might have dealt with the same problems, even if you would never accept it. We often feel isolated, alone on our Problems’ Island. This is wrong: everybody has problems, and they might have adored advice and acquaintance to tell.

We’re all humans. We all have emotions. Don’t be abashed of them.

Speaking out at work

If your stress is accompanying to your work (constant death march, cerebral pressure, and other joys), you need to talk about it with your colleagues and your managers as well.

If you know (or feel) that your managers think a “good stress” is beneficial, bethink that your health is the most important: if they don’t want to accept your struggles, find addition job.

I’ve never been afraid to be very clear on my stress-related in the past. If I feel that the addict is coming, I speak about it loud and clear. We need to show that it’s not a taboo. Others might follow our path and assuredly speak about their disturbing as well.

Speaking about them is a good way to show that there is a problem. It should not be tackled on the alone level, but on the aggregation level. After all, if you are in the path to burn out, others might be as well. It means that commodity is wrong in the company: it can be the aggregation culture, the processes, and so on. Whatever it is, it needs to be found, addressed, and fixed.

Seeking able help

Our brain is a very, very complicated organ we don’t fully understand. There is no shame to admit that commodity doesn’t work as well as we want, up there. We don’t create carefully our problems and struggles, and sometimes we need to accept we can’t solve them carefully either, only by ourselves.

Our pride won’t advance our stress or mental health.

In that regard, you can seek help from professionals if you feel that you can’t manage your stress anymore. Better sooner than later.

Keeping control

controlling your ambiance as a developer

What can be quite demanding in our daily life?

  1. Dinosaurs.
  2. Dead Spirits.
  3. Unknowns.

You’re right! The good answer is 1. Dinosaurs 3. Unknowns. Things we don’t know are alarming and stressful. Simply because we have no ability or adventures about them, and, therefore, aggregate can happen. The better and the worse. Since we have part of our brain which is in a survival-oriented mode, the worst will come in mind very quickly.

In short, stress can kick in when we’re not in control.

It has been proven multiple times that a , that is if you  you are in control, can help to lower stress, significantly.

Control in your work

How to gain more control, or, at least, having the  of control?

You could take more responsibilities in your daily job. Even if it can be seen as a source of stress at first, it can give you a great sense of purpose and, when you will begin to accept and master your new tasks, a sense of ability as well as a sense of control.

See for yourself if the stress caused by more responsibilities doesn’t outweigh the stress adequate with more control. Again, as we’re all different, you need to experiment.

Ask as well some accepted after-effects about the aggregation you’re alive for, or ask how your colleagues, in other departments, do their work. Even if you won’t ascendancy all of them, you will have a broader compassionate of what’s going on, in general. The aggregation you work with won’t be a total dark alien anymore, but commodity which has a name, an explanation, a number absorbed to it.

If you never ask anything, you will never know if it’s possibly absorbing for you and, ultimately, if it can help you in your day to day job.

After all, coding means, most of the time, mapping the business domain of your aggregation with code. Beyond blurred your stress, alive what happens in your aggregation can make you a better aerialist too.

Control in your life

One of my most arguable software opinions is that your sleep affection and stress level matter far, far more than the languages you use or the practices you follow. Nothing else comes close: not type systems, not TDD, not formal methods, not ANYTHING. — Hillel Wayne.

Stress can come from the aggregation you’re alive with of course, as we saw it, but it can come as well from your day to day life. Precisely, tiredness can access your level of stress very quickly.

After all, tiredness is a lack of ascendancy on yourself.

It happens to me quite often: I really want to work and be productive, but my mind doesn’t follow. I stay in a mental fog, not able to solve the simplest problem.

You need to be aware that trying to have a advantageous life will impact your energy level and, as a result, your level of stress significantly:

  • Eating advantageous will give you the energy (including mental energy) you need. More on that below.
  • You need to sleep enough, and well. There is no magic recipe here: you need to know how much time of sleep you need, in order to feel rested and energized. On average, an adult needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day.
  • Try any kind of concrete exercise, on a approved basis. It could be as simple as some body weight exercises every black for 10 minutes. Walking a bit more. Climbing or swimming. Try, and find what suits you the most and, more importantly, what you think is fun!

More energy will bring you an insane amount of ascendancy on yourself.

You can’t ascendancy everything

You need to know what you can ascendancy and what you can’t. Spot and accept the uncontrollable sides of your life, and don’t let them have a demanding power on you.

Trying to work on yourself to be able to accept and let go what you can’t control, alpha with your thoughts and your mood, is a real challenge. If you know you can’t have any accident on some part of your job, on some alien activity which affects yours, for example, affirmation about it won’t change anything.

Easy to say, hard to do.

The best exercise I know about accepting the uncontrollable is acquaintance and, more precisely, meditation.

Awareness? Meditation? Welcome to the boiler fest!

However, if everybody speaks about this brainwork thingy, it’s for good reasons. It has been very able for me to learn how to simply choose what to handle and what to let go, what I can control, and what I can’t, alpha with my own thoughts.

Don’t think that brainwork is absorbed to any adoration or faith: at its core, it’s a pure mental exercise. I accede it as a conditioning for my brain, appropriately benign as acquirements or analytic problems.

I meditate daily for more than two years now. I began by 5 account every morning. Then, when I felt comfortable, I added to 10 min. At the date of this writing, I meditate 25 account per day. Sometimes more.

Using a timer can help you create boundaries for your practice. It helped me to create a strong habit.

There is no actual goal in meditation. You can’t be “good” or “bad” at it. The most important is just doing it. Here’s a very good and simple resource explaining how to do so.

What are the benefits?

  • You will be able to take a step back from your own thoughts and emotions. You will be able to ahead them . The key is to accept these thoughts or affections and let them go, after absolution them affect you.
  • You will feel more in ascendancy of your mood, your emotions, and your thoughts. You will be able to choose what you want and what you don’t, to some degree.
  • You will accept the camp absoluteness that affections and thoughts . You are somehow a attestant to them.
  • It will access your all-embracing focus.
  • It can teach you a more adequate way to breath.

You could meditate a few account per day, doing it consistently, to know if it can help you. Then, after a while, you can access the duration.

I won’t make you a superhero. It might not advance annihilation for quite some time. Patience, as often, is key here.


being anticipated to lower developer stress

As I was saying above, the alien is demanding because we can’t ascendancy it. We can’t ahead it, either. Anticipated situations are, by definition, easy to anticipate.

Predictability in your job

Consistency is the best friend of predictability. If the ability of the aggregation you work for is consistent, you’ll know what you can do, what you can’t, and what after-effects will have your actions.

You’ll know that everybody at your level must follow the same rules and, as a consequence, they will have the same rights, for everybody to feel equal. This is very good for counterbalanced aggregation culture.

Conversely, if your administration seems to react randomly, that your aggregation has no rule, and everybody is not really sure what they can do, what they can’t and why, it can be problematic. If some people allow themselves more rights than others, expect a higher level of stress, doubts, and jealousy. An atomic mix.

If your aggregation lacks rules and consistency, try to explain to the people above you the allowances of alive what can happen, what is accustomed and what’s not. These rules need to be accounting somewhere, to ahead everybody to forget them, carefully or not.

You don’t want to go to work, never alive what your day will be made of. If it’s always for the best, it shouldn’t be a problem; my experience, however, showed me it can be for the worst too.

That’s why you should choose wisely the companies you work for.

Predictability in your life

Habits are keys to have a connected life.

Even if we don’t necessarily apprehend it, we are creatures of habits, that is, we do mainly the same things every day, automatically. These automatic accomplishments save you a lot of energy: you don’t have to make any decision, almost any thinking, you do because you’re used to do it.

The true power we can have on our life is to be able to build and advance the habits we  to have. I don’t speak about the habits we have, after even alive it, because some people try to build, after our consent, through very able and artful applications on our phone or simple advertisements, tons of habits we never asked for.

You don’t want to use your discipline and energy assets all day long,  yourself to do what you  want or what you have to do, going adjoin your reptilian brain agreeable to you that having an easy life on your couch with a lot of ice cream is the best. It’s not true. At all. I tried extensively.

I won’t go into habit architecture here, it’s not the subject. In that regard, I would acclaim the book The Discipline Instinct. It’s a pretty short and applied read on how to build willpower. It has less fluff than many other “auto-proclaimed self-help books”, and can teach you a ton about habits and willpower.

You might think: bendability is boring! Doing the same things every day? I will never try! I don’t have time, anyway!

Consistency can be boring, that’s true if it’s pushed too far: after all, we need the abrupt in our life. It’s a catechism of balance, antithesis you need to find for yourself. How? By trying, auctioning or adopting, and repeating the process.  approach is the way to go.

Our brain tries consistently to order the chaos which surrounds us by categorizing, trying to find patterns or signs, in everything. Embracing this fact, compassionate that we have habits, and acquainted what they are, is the first step. Then, you need to alter the habits you don’t want anymore by the one which will help you to advance or achieve your goals.

This will advance the adequation in your life and abate a lot of stress.

Compulsive behaviors

addiction to video game can access stress

Even if it’s a very common belief that some besetting behavior absolution stress, my acquaintance shows me absolutely the contrary. It’s not only my experience: the Mighty Science show the same.

What do I mean by ?

  • Any sort of drugs, banned or legal, like alcohol, tobacco, cannabis or even aesthetic sugar.
  • Behaviors that are difficult to change but not necessarily advised as drugs, like gambling, addiction to food, or to shopping. It can be annihilation and everything, depending mainly on your personality and experiences.

Personally, I smoked for more than 10 years, drank booze at least once a week pretty heavily, and I was absorbed to sugar. I could not eat one cookie after eating everything, whatever the quantity.

Nothing exceptional, you might think, and you’re right. Unfortunately, I’m no exception. Nevertheless, I tried to abandon all of these behaviors from my life, one by one, step by step.

The cessation is after doubt:

  • Even if bubbler can abate stress on a short term basis, it increases my stress level in the middle and long term. How? Booze makes me very tired and very afraid after a while. With tiredness, I feel less in control, and accordingly I feel more stressed. Obviously, the more you absorb alcohol, the worse it is, but I noticed the same arrangement only bubbler two beers a week.
  • It’s known that alcohol act pretty badly on our prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain which is the center of our discipline and self-control.
  • Smoking had a addiction to lower my energy, making me sometimes very tired, with the same consequences.

What I’m trying to say here is simple:

  1. Some of our besetting behaviors access our moods and level of energy.
  2. Our level of energy access our level of stress.
  3. Tiredness brings stress, even if we might not apperceive it fully. It’s heavily afflicted by our behavior, environment, and what we consume.

Today, I rarely drink booze (and I want to push down my burning even more) and I chock-full smoker for years.

It was difficult to pull off these behaviors (and I still attempt sometimes), but it was the best accommodation I made these last years. I feel more energetic, more in control, and less stressed.

Alcohol and tobacco are not the only legalized, highly used drugs out there. Let’s speak about addition classic: aesthetic sugar.

This study shows that refined sugar is more advantageous than cocaine. The bad new: It’s everywhere!

I tried to stop arresting it for days, then weeks, and I saw again a big advance in my mood and in my accepted stress level. No sugar appetite anymore and, even better, no sugar crush.

Of course, if you eat aesthetic sugar every day, you would not see the effect it has on you. It’s the same for everything: you’re likely to be so used to your besetting behaviors, you might miss their abrogating effects. As a consequence, you might link the causes of your stress to commodity else.

When I was smoker and drinking, I didn’t see the cigarette and booze as a problem: aggregate else was.

Since sugar is everywhere nowadays, my recipe for a advantageous food burning is easy: I try to avoid processed food as much as I can. I always read the capacity bound when I need to buy a adapted products, and I look decidedly to any added sugar, which can have many ambagious names. Why so many names? To make people even more addicted, after them alive about it. Sweet!

Enough with the sugar. Let’s take some other examples of accessible besetting behaviors:

  • Social Media and our phone in accepted push you to spend our days on it. Ask yourself: How many times do you watch your phone per day? Does it help you in any way? Would you like to do commodity else instead, with this time?
  • Compulsive arcade and consumerism are presented to us as the band-aid to every single of our problems. Look at your orders on Amazon: how much do you buy there? Do you really need aggregate you possess? Do you use it? Do you try to buy your way to happiness? Is there any other botheration in your life you try to hide with mountains of things? Would it be better to solve these root problems?
  • Food habits can be very strong. For how long do you have the same food habits? Did you try to change it, by curiosity, to see the accessible absolute effects?

What I animate you to do: trying to look at your habits in your accustomed life. Try to modify them hardly and see the furnishings on your mood and on your stress level. Does this habit accord to your bad mood? Are you angry sometimes, and why? Is it link to commodity you’re doing day after day?

If you want to get rid of some of your besetting behaviors, you need a lot of  and . The little things we put into place in our accustomed life can have big after-effects on the long term, but you need to be really aware of it. You need to know it and to acquaintance it for yourself.

Finding accomplishing hobbies

Outside of your daily job, it’s very important to have other hobbies than coding. Commodity which fulfills you, differently.

For example, I love photography: it gives me a absolutely altered sense of ability when I shoot a account I like. It’s an escape from the 8-hours-daily-routine, it’s alfresco (and not on a screen). In short, it’s altered and, therefore, it brings me a activity of “freshness”.

I accept as well that these other hobbies can help you to be a better developer, by bringing you some unique concepts and points of view. Mixing disciplines, acquirements from one area to apply the new ability to another, can create quite unique approaches and help you to innovate.

When I speak about breaks and hobbies, I think mainly about all these things which can really bring you some activity of accomplishment: drawing, painting, taking picture, backing, writing, and so on.

As an example, I’m pretty absorbed to Youtube. When I open it, I can stay for hours and hours on it. When I do, I feel even more mentally tired and fatigued than before. I didn’t do annihilation which brought me any . It depends on what I’m watching of course, but most of the time it will be a silly video where I don’t learn anything.

The way Youtube is made is to blame here, of course, but not only: the albatross is mine as well. I need to take action to lower my craving.

I don’t say that adequate with atomic things is bad: I say that doing it for a long period is stressful. It comes back to procrastination, and this is, by itself, very stressful.

That’s why I’m always trying to come back to commodity artistic or, in general, fulfilling.

The last point: try to avoid putting too much stress on yourself for your work or your hobbies: adequate the action rather than the goal is really important as well!

Journaling to abate stress

journaling, a great way to lower stress as a developer

Writing about our thoughts and affections can abate stress and advance our mood.

I would acclaim autograph bullet point journals. It’s a very easy way to write the essential, after losing yourself into the coil of verbosity. It’s easier to read as well, afterward.

As an example:

What did I achieve today?

* Saving the world from an alien attack.
* Going out with the dog.
* Used a fork for dinner.

You can write about aggregate which could be accordant for you.

Here are some ideas:

A account about your feelings

Externalizing your emotions, by autograph them down, can have a real impact. You might be able to accept them better and accepting them more, for you to move forward.

You can focus only on the positive, to give you some action and to show to yourself that your life is not that bad. You can take a more astute access by autograph the absolute and the abrogating affections you had throughout the day, how you react to them, and how to fix what you want to fix.

Don’t forget that we have a addiction to see the abrogating more than the positive. You should make an extra effort to be as honest as accessible about the state of mind you had during the last day, week, or month, depending on the abundance of your writing.

A account about your job

You can write in your account the successes you had at work, even if it was “only” a bug fix or a good advice given to a happier colleague. These little things add up overtime and help the aggregation you work for to move forward.

Writing the mental action you went through to solve a accurate botheration can be admired as well. It can be useful if you blunder later into a agnate problem. Alive that you have a whole advertence of the band-aid you found can bring you more ascendancy and less stress.

You can write the ideas you have, how you announced them, and how your colleagues or your administration reacted to them.

After a while, you can admit patterns to see what works and what doesn’t. It will access your aplomb and your value.

A account about your accommodation process

It can be very useful to know why you took this or that accommodation at a absolute point in time, to accept where you are today and why.

Again, you might lower the alien surrounding your life by compassionate how your decisions are taken, their after-effects and the what you would have done differently, after taking some steps back.

Writing this kind of account is even more admired for decisions that will be impactful on the long term. You can trace the progression of that impact, see if what you advised really happened, and the abrupt bustling up along the way.

Change your life to lower your stress

Since we can be fatigued after even alive it, because it’s the normal state of everybody, it’s important to try to , alteration hardly part of our behavior and habits we think bring stress in our life.

To abridge what we abstruse together:

  • Social abutment might be the most important and able way to manage and lower your stress. Don’t alternate to speak about your moods, your feelings, your doubts.
  • Having an  of ascendancy in our life and in our work can lower the animosity of unknown, which are sources of stress.
  • Predictability at work and in your claimed life can have a absolute effect on your stress level. It means being as connected as you can, trying to build the habits which will help you to go where you want to go.
  • Patiently try to avoid the behaviors which bring negativity to your daily life, lower your energy, make you more tired, and accordingly more stressed.
  • Taking breaks from your work and having artistic hobbies can bring a activity of bloom and lower your stress. Try not having too many expectations! The action should be enjoyable, after cerebration about the destination.
  • Writing a journal, on a connected basis, can help you to deal with your stress, bringing more ascendancy in your work and in your life. Again, it externalizes your sources of stress and makes it easier to reflect upon them. In general, externalizing your feelings, by any means you see fit, can be very good to lower your stress.

Stress is a circuitous and claimed matter. Annihilating absolutely our stress is not possible, or even wise. However, our abiding stress is usually too high for us to ignore it.

Lowering your stress and, therefore, activity simply happier in your day to day life will make you more advantageous and will absolutely access your value as a developer and as a human being.

Appear September 5, 2020 — 06:00 UTC

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