Anxiety in the workplace affects everyone, but sometimes it feels like programmers have it the worst.
We’re underpaid, overworked, and misunderstood by nearly everyone in the company. Projects pile up quickly, creative direction changes constantly, and since no one else in the company understands our job, they’re unaware of or unsympathetic to how much stress they really cause.
Because of this, in 2017, the software industry posted a higher employee turnover rate than any other industry. And while this is terrible, it’s not really surprising. Being stressed and overworked is essentially a stereotype of programming culture. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
To combat the status quo and give programmers ways to combat stress in a healthy way, here are a few tips on how to deal with programming anxiety. These tips will allow you to take control of your mental well-being and fight the onset of the many health problems that can arise from chronic stress.
Ask for Help
Projects can pile up quickly, turning an easy week into an absolute nightmare in a matter of minutes. And when requests are flooding your inbox, it can be overwhelming. You might feel like you’ll never get it all done.
That’s why it’s important to call upon friends and coworkers for help. This could mean having a colleague assist with your work responsibilities. Alternatively, it could involve asking a friend or family member to help you with outside-of-work duties. Having a support system is crucial to overcoming anxiety.
Programmers, especially, are prone to ignoring this tip and digging themselves into a hole. Because we take such pride in solving problems and being someone who can be counted on to handle difficult tasks, asking for assistance can feel like weakness.
It is important to remember that’s never the case. Using your coworkers as resources will help you personally accomplish more as well as improve the overall quality of the project.
Set Honest Deadlines
Another way to keep your mountain of work somewhat manageable is to set honest, achievable deadlines. While that may seem obvious, most people fail to adhere to this idea.
For instance, if you’ve already got a full plate and your employer asks you to do more, lay out an accurate timetable for your work. Don’t just tell them a timetable that they’ll be happy to hear.
By doing this, you’ll save yourself from extra stress, since you won’t stretch yourself even thinner and potentially produce rushed, mistake-filled work.
You’ll also save your reputation with higher-ups because while others are giving unrealistic estimates that they will ultimately fail to meet, you’re consistently delivering quality code on time.
Don’t Suppress Your Feelings
This is somewhat connected to asking for help, as that is one way to make your feelings of stress and anxiety known to others. But sometimes, we might suppress our feelings for other reasons, too; for instance, when we disagree with something.
Simply suppressing your feelings of anxiety doesn’t help anyone, and voicing your concerns in certain situations can help ensure that the entire process runs smoothly.
Rather than fighting anxiety and trying to keep it hidden, it’s best to embrace it and even talk about it to deal with this potentially debilitating problem. However, that doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be consumed by stress.
When you start to feel stress, you shouldn’t push back and pretend it isn’t there. Instead, you should find the source of your stress and work toward resolving that issue.
Many times, the overwhelming stress we feel isn’t about just one thing; it’s the sum of all the stress we’ve been ignoring.
Which is why meeting anxiety head-on and dealing with it is so crucial.
For example, if you knew there was a problem in your code early on, you wouldn’t wait until you made 50 mistakes before trying to correct any of them. Instead, you would correct it immediately knowing it would make life easier down the road. The same goes for those feelings you have bottled up.
One of the best ways to deal with problems with anxiety is to resolve them through regular exercise. Because while exercise is important for your physical health, it’s also imperative for maintaining your mental well-being.
This is because physical activity releases endorphins that produce what’s often called a “runner’s high.”
This “high” produces pain-relieving and anxiety-reducing effects by both flooding your body with endorphins and utilizing the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate mood and decrease anxiety during and after exercise.
The relationship between exercise and the ECS is a recent discovery, but that finding is why many athletes often supplement their workouts with hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil products like topical creams and gummies.
Since CBD affects the ECS in a similar fashion to exercise, adding it to your workout or morning routine can be a great way to keep yourself focused and stress-free.
However, simply getting outside and enjoying nature can be enough to elevate your mood, according to a Harvard Health article. There’s no need to bust out the supplements or even break a sweat. Just a little bit of movement and sunlight can make a huge difference.
Take a Break
As great as all these tips are, most of them can’t be done while you’re waist-deep in work. That’s why we saved the most important lesson for last: Take a break every once in a while.
Unless you’re writing code for the Avengers, your job most likely isn’t a life-and-death situation. That means that no matter how important those deadlines seem or what the powers-that-be tell you about work ethic, you’re no good to anyone if you’re filled to the brim with anxiety and exhaustion.
Put your system to sleep for a second, get up from your desk, and think about something else for five minutes whenever you feel the burnout is setting in. Once you feel like your head’s a little lighter, go back in and tackle your work with a renewed sense of energy.
Create a Positive Outlook
While these tips may not remove your entire pending workload, they can hopefully inspire you to take control of your mental well-being and never accept stress as a natural state of living.
You have the power to shape your world through the way you react to difficulties. By practicing these tips, you can create a more positive outlook.
Combining these suggestions and adding your own methods for mindfulness and self-actualization can help you stay on top of anxiety and stress, keeping them from creeping up on you.