Good mental health as a software engineer

Last updated on February 20th, 2024 at 03:46 pm

Mental Health and Productivity

7 Ways for Maintaining Good Mental Health as a Software Engineer

By June 1, 2022 5 min read

It’s vital to learn ways to maintain good mental health as a software engineer. Here’s why.

Programming can take a toll on a software developer’s mental health because it demands a lot of thinking and concentration. Unfortunately, many software developers are unaware of the impact this intense cognitive activity has on their mental health because they are immersed in their jobs.

Stack Overflow’s Developer survey showed that 15 percent of 65,000 developers interviewed have a mental illness. Sadly, most of these developers don’t even know the state of their mental health because they are more concerned about work.

In any case, it’s necessary to have a healthy mind to function optimally as a software engineer. This post will take you through seven ways to maintain good mental health as a software engineer.

Let’s get started.

How do you take care of yourself as a programmer?

Here are a few tips to stay healthy as a programmer:

  1. Handle imposter syndrome

    Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern that makes you think you are not qualified for a position you have credentials for. This syndrome makes you believe that you don’t deserve your achievements, and people will soon discover you are not as intelligent as they think you are.
    Experiencing the imposter syndrome is a common challenge for software engineers due to the ever-changing nature of their job. When a programmer feels inferior to every other programmer, they are bound to take a hit on their mental health.

    So, how do you take care of yourself as a programmer if you have imposter syndrome?
    Track your achievements and efforts in real-time using a notepad or other note-taking software.

    1. Engage in stress-relieving activities, such as yoga, meditation, tai-chi, recreational sports, or exercise classes.
    2. Learn to appreciate your uniqueness and efforts by rewarding yourself with something you like.
    3. Focus on being a life-long learner – set a daily schedule for learning something new in your field.
    4. Finally, never think of yourself as an imposter.

      When you feel like you are not growing as a software engineer, pause for a moment, and look back to see how far you’ve come. Leverage the imposter syndrome to introspect and develop your skills even further.
  2. Take breaks

    Programming requires intense concentration, patience, and knowledge. And you shouldn’t refrain from taking breaks when you feel frustrated because of errors and tricky bug fixes you encounter.
    Taking real breaks that do not involve screen time, such as going for a walk, calling a friend or family member, reading a novel, etc., makes a lot of difference in aiding productivity. And so, you should take breaks from time to time to recover from the mental stress at work.

    You can set hourly reminders on your phone to drink water, listen to your fave music or podcast, do a few stretches, etc. In simple words, this is the time to unplug from work. You can do anything within this period aside from work or looking at your screen.

    After the break, you can resume work refreshed and full of energy.
  3. Practice meditation

    We live in a busy world. Think about this: you are coding while slacking, doing household chores while listening to music, reading a book while responding to text messages. We often lose focus of the moment while chasing tasks.

    Meditation is a simple practice that can increase calmness and clarity, reduce stress, and boost happiness. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment and ignoring every other thing in your environment.

    Scientists have found that mindfulness techniques help improve physical and mental health. In addition, meditation can also lower blood pressure, help with depression and anxiety disorders, and improve sleep.

    Joining a virtual mindfulness meditation class is a great way to start. You can devote 5-10 minutes every day to meditating and set the alarm to remind you when it’s time constantly.
    Headspace, WildMind, Mindfulness for Creativity, etc., are all tools you can try to practice mindfulness meditation and maintain good mental health.
  4. Exercise

    Exercising is an essential part of mental health, but how do physical activities improve mental well-being?

    Exercising requires discipline and consistency.  And sticking to an exercise routine can give a sense of accomplishment. Interestingly, this sense of accomplishment releases dopamine relieves stress and makes us happier.

    Exercising also improves mood, boosts energy, and keeps the heart healthy as it pumps blood through the body. Software engineers sit at a spot for most of the day, making exercise necessary to combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on their bodies and minds.

    Also, exercising is a way of giving your mind and body time to recharge. Routine exercises will help you focus better when you get back to work.
  5. Develop a hobby

    The fundamental idea behind pursuing hobbies is taking a break from your job to do what you love. In other words, your hobby time is your guilt-free, do-whatever-makes-you-happy time of the day. You can use this time to read books, make music, play games, basically anything that makes you happy!
  6. Reduce soda and caffeine intake

    Reducing or cutting out caffeine and soda intake is essential for mental well-being. Soda and caffeine block the A1 receptors necessary for neurochemical signals to work in the body.

    When the receptors are blocked, neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamate cause people to feel active and deprived of sleep. But this sleep deprivation and a feeling of sudden ‘high’  are only short-lived and not good for mental health.

    Besides, this condition worsens when you develop a tolerance for caffeine. A higher tolerance paves the way for a higher dosage.  The higher your caffeine dosage, the higher the workload on your heart.

    Consistently taking caffeine and soda can induce high blood pressure, leading to serious health issues for software engineers.

    Tea, freshly-squeezed fruit juices, maple water, green smoothies, etc., are all healthy alternatives you can try instead of soda and caffeinated drinks.
  7. Reward yourself

    Developers tend to get caught up in their workload and pay less attention to their health. Instead of following this unhealthy pattern, learn to commend and treat yourself at times.

    Buy that gadget you’ve been eyeing, plan a fun trip with your family or friends, and take a day off to pamper yourself and indulge in your favorite activities.

How to manage and prevent burnout as a software developer?

Ways to maintain good mental health as a software engineer

How to prevent burnout?

Maintaining a social life may be challenging for coders because they are immersed in their professional lives. However, having little or no life outside the coding circle can lead to fatigue, lack of interest, or reduced passion for your work.

If you see these signs, you are likely heading towards burnout. Other contributors to burnout include excessive workload, underpayment, feeling of isolation, cynicism, lack of sleep, exercise, censure from project team leaders, etc.

Wrapping up

It’s natural to desire a successful career as an engineer or developer. Just like any other job, programming can be pretty stressful at times. If you keep pushing through without breaks, you will soon be completely exhausted. That’s why it’s imperative to learn ways to maintain good mental health as a software engineer. If you feel your mental health is rapidly declining, always ask for help.

 Remember, mental health comes first. Work second. 

Are you a software developer looking for a high-growth remote job in a friendly work environment? Try Turing. Turing offers an outstanding work-life balance for its developers and prioritizes their mental health and well-being at every step.

Turing currently hires remote developers from over 150 countries in the world. If you want to be a part of the Turing developer team, you can start your application now. Click on Apply for Jobs button for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are software developers healthy?

    According to Stack Overflow’s Developer survey, 15 percent of the interviewed developers admitted struggling with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. A software developer’s job is stressful and can affect their mental health. However,  following basic health measures can help you stay healthy—mentally and physically.
  2. Is Python developer a stressful job?

    Python developers encounter stress like most other developers. Stress for programmers is not exclusive to Python developers. Whether you’re a Python developer or not, it’s important to find ways to handle stress as a software developer.
  3. Is programming stressful?

    Programming is stressful because it demands a high level of focus and concentration. Coding for long stretches of time without taking a break, trying to fix tricky bugs, and non-correlating learning material are the key factors leading to stress in developers. However, following a healthy work-to-break ratio can help developers combat stress. 

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7 Ways to Maintain Good Mental Health as a Software Engineer
Article Name
7 Ways to Maintain Good Mental Health as a Software Engineer
Ways to maintain good mental health as a software developer: 1. Handle imposter syndrome 2. Take breaks 3. Practice meditation 4. Exercise.....


  • Finidi Lawson

    Finidi is a writer who takes pride in writing meaningful and engaging content. He has worked for brands across verticals like Auslogics Software, Revioly, etc.

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  • Shanmukh
    Sep 2, 2023 at 4:51 pm

    Nice informative