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Developer Health

A collection of guides by our members to help with mental health, burnout, self-care, and more...

Developer burnout is an experience that’s too prevalent in the tech industry, often resulting from workplace stress, a lack of psychological safety in the workplace, negative experiences, or feedback, and results in exhaustion, an inability to complete work tasks effectively, a lack of desire to work or ambivalence towards work or teammates.

Removing yourself from the situation might be the best way to recover from burnout, however, that’s not always an option. Here are some tips to navigate burnout.

Removing Negative Influences

We often find that shame influences our interactions and what we agree to. Identifying where you feel shame and how it impacts your burnout is a good first step. Let go of the shame of needing a break, saying no, passing a project to another colleague, etc.

Sometimes you need to step away from the things you can no longer sustain. You may have taken on too much, or your priorities might have changed. That’s ok. Learning to pause and step away from things is important. Trying to do too much will accelerate burnout.

Increasing Positive Influences

Counteracting the negative influences in your life by investing in the people and things that bring you energy or happiness can help to navigate burnout. Find the activities that really bring you joy and comfort, and incorporate those into your week. Put them on your schedule as you would work meetings or interviews to signify their importance and necessity.

Sometimes physically staying in the same place increases feelings of burnout. If it’s possible, try moving your workspace. As part of this, incorporating some regular body movement can decrease feelings of being trapped. It might help to set some goals to walk X every week, start a 100-day push-up challenge, or set up a physical goal that holds you accountable but also accomplished.

Create adequate time to wind down every day. This will also contribute to much better sleep, which is important to burnout recovery.

Consider making space in the week to focus on doing activities that bring you joy. This might be playing games, watching movies, hanging out with friends and family, heading to the gym, or doing any activity that gives you energy. Along with that, it’s ok and good to rest. Finding space not to do things is equally important in replenishing your energy.

Let yourself be bored! Daydream, dream about new projects, think abstractly about concepts you’ve learned, identify new connections between parts of yourself, reflect on what learning approaches worked well, and maybe even pursue some opportunities you hadn’t considered.

Create Boundaries

Boundaries help to keep us healthy, but often we find that we’ve let things cross our boundaries or the boundaries have blurred. Maybe you worked late one week to hit a big goal for your job. Suddenly, you find that you’re being asked to do that--or worse, you’re being expected to do it without your consent--for everyday tasks. It’s not in your contract, and you value work-life harmony.

Regularly assessing your upcoming week and retrospect to identify the biggest stressors can help prevent this from continuing to happen. You may identify ways to improve your stressors could be reducing hours, taking more breaks, setting a day without meetings, or finding space to work in an environment conducive to doing your best work. Consider doing a self-reflection as well.

To assess your week, set a stop time for every day. Although it may be necessary to push past that in some instances, it’s important to make that the exception and not the rule.

  • You matter.
  • Your worth isn’t tied to your productivity or your side projects or your job title.
  • You are more than your rejections.
  • You are important.

Thanks to all of our members who have contributed to this conversation, especially Julia Seidman and Sara McCombs.