We programmer geeks knew what we were getting ourselves into, but we absolutely love it. Waking up, solving those bugs, coding, and getting our nerd on gives us a super high.
When I chose this field, I was well aware of the stress and work schedule that usually goes with it: long hours of coding, sleepless nights sitting in front of the computer screen trying to meet tons of deadlines, developing new computer programs, and fixing program errors and bugs.
I invest more than half a day, nah, pretty much all day at work. If you are anything like me, I’d bet you are, right now, sitting locked up in a room stacked with junk food and sipping on soda or coffee. I mean c’mon, we need to stay up all night long, so we kind of deserve this right?
A few top tech companies have agreements with universities in my country, allowing the companies to hire engineers of their choice straight out of college. I was fortunate to be one of the few picked, which meant that I started my career working with a top tech company, where I got a taste of corporate life. Oh and the food was amazing, too! The couch at the cafeteria was pretty much my work desk. I wanted to impress my first boss and would work like an android converting jugs of coffee into code.
Having just moved out of my parents’ house, I made sure I touched none of the greens and grains that my mom had always forced me to eat. Burgers and fries were the norm. Sunday was PlayStation Day and boy, I loved this newfound freedom. Biking to work was the only time I would exert my body, but that soon ended as I bought my first car.
Fast forward nine years and you see this groaning, 30-pound-overweight, middle-aged man who sleeps on the hard floor in hopes that it will get rid of his back pain (Psst: Don’t believe those darn WhatsApp forwards). Yeah, that was me a year and a half ago. I knew there were some major changes that had to be done before the dollars left my pockets to be replaced by medical bills.
I decided to take the leap of faith and jump onto the entrepreneurship train. I started my own thing from home with a small team. Change is a great motivator, and this change of work (it may have actually been the lack of health insurance, but let’s not digress) prompted me to start taking better care of my body. Lean, smiling, and a regular at the Sunday bike races trying his best to finish in the top 10—that’s me now!
My team, who are a bunch of young chaps, very easily sit in the oddest positions and work for hours. It reminds me of those old days when I would work from the cafeteria couch. Obviously, those mistakes that I made in the past have haunted me enough, and I do not want to see my guys suffer too.
If this causes even a slight twinge of guilt about your own health or lifestyle, read on, for I have a few easy ideas that will help keep those crisp dollar bills in your pocket rather than in your physician’s. Trust me when I say it’s easier than coding.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
You, yes you reading this. Stop eating while you read this. You can thank me later.
Avoid eating in front of the screen and definitely not at your work desk! Take proper meals instead of munching something throughout the day, or even worse—starving. Yes, that’s happened to me quite a few times in the past. The excitement of an approaching deadline or the eagerness to get the next commit in before rising from the chair meant I’d often starve myself for several hours without realizing it.
Also, is it possible for you to stay away from junk? You probably end up eating a lot more than you think, especially when it comes to munching on those fries or burgers or chips while debugging.
If you love cooking, fix yourself a nice meal well in advance! Throw away the junk the way you get rid of all those bugs from your code. If cooking isn’t an option, sign up for a meal delivery service. Your food will come to you!
Also, download one of those free applications from the App Store or Google Play that remind you to hydrate every hour. Fainting from dehydration is a very real possibility when you get caught up with work and completely forget about hydrating your body.
And by hydrate, I mean H2O and not Red Bull, sodas, or coffee. If not the app, try to gulp down a glass of water every time you fix a bug or do a git commit.
Bend It Like a Yogi
Imagine you’ve turned 35, but you look older because of your hunched back due to back problems and aches. Not such a pleasant sight, is it?
You don’t need to opt for expensive gym memberships or classes to avoid it. Just do basic yoga stretches every day when you wake up. Your muscles need that good stretch.
Follow your own Yoga plan, or just go to your favorite app store and download something like the Daily Yoga – Workout & Fitness app, which will fix you up with some good exercises. This will not only help you maintain your posture but will also strengthen your back. Here are a few basic ones you can try at home: cat/cow pose, spinal twist, downward dog pose, seated forward fold, eagle pose, and the child’s pose.
No one is asking you to get bulky biceps like a heavyweight boxer. Just develop a neat morning routine that will keep the backaches at bay! Your metabolism will increase and so will your endurance. I am sure you wouldn’t want to go breathless when encountering just a few stairs. With work like ours, we need that energy and dedication.
Ergo what? Let me explain. Ergonomics involves designing a proper workspace in order to avoid the poor habit of slouching and working on couches, which eventually lead to less productive work. Bad posture leads to health issues and invites injuries.
Ergonomic processes should be adopted in every work culture to get rid of risk factors that lead to severe health issues.
How can we put an end to this? By purchasing comfortable and adjustable chairs with nice armrests, adjustable monitors, and an external mouse and placing cords and wires properly.
I have tried this in my office, and the younger guys are really happy with the whole setup. If you are a work-from-home kind of a person, the first thing you must do is follow those steps.
Just like your phone, your body needs to go into airplane mode once in a while. I am not trying to be your nagging mom, but trust me: A fixed routine with eight hours of sleep per night actually makes you more productive. Besides, it will help keep you from dozing off in those client meetings.
When you sleep well, you feel less stressed and wake up with good energy. Also, adding those amazing yoga poses to your daily routine will keep you fresh and energetic throughout the day. Before you hit the bed, make sure you give some time to yourself. Disconnect from the tech world, and give your eyes a break. The bright blue light from your phone has been shown to disrupt natural sleep patterns. Sweet dreams!
Say YES to Your Future
Following these simple steps will ensure that your future self doesn’t end up cursing you. That’s actually how I remember these simple steps—the mnemonic F-YES. To prevent your future self from cursing you, watch the Food that you eat, do Yoga, adopt Ergonomics, and finally Sleep well. Do these and future you will say YES and want to give you a pat on the back.