Maintaining a work-life balance as a stressed web developer

Developer stress is a big issue, and it's a huge cause for concern within the industry. You might know how to code, but do you know how to manage the stress? Here's what you should do about it.

It's 2019, and stress is everywhere. Even in the most perceivably stress-free lines of work (is that even a thing anymore?), the level of individual responsibility, and subsequently personal stress, seems to be fast increasing. For many, work stress is a fact of life, and often not something that can be controlled to a great degree. Normally, we experience stress as a reaction to certain triggers, situations or expectations, which are, for a large number of people, largely uncontrollable in a demanding work environment.

In 2014, a study commissioned by Tilda found that over 50% of Brits believe that their levels of stress and anxiety are increasing. That figure is not only enormous but fairly concerning too. In the same year, British organization HSE (Health and Safety Executive), published a report claiming that stress accounted for 35% of all work-related ill health cases, and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health. As you can see, stress induced by high pressure work environments is usually not a good thing.

The real problem with work-related stress is that it often leads to more stress, rather than a positive result. In our personal life, it's fairly easy to shed negative sources of energy and emotion, but the same can't be said for what goes on at work, for obvious reasons.

Given that so many of us simply don't have the luxury of walking away when stress at work becomes too much, these proactive tips will help you remain sane while under growing demand at work.

1. Introduce Micro-Breaks Into Your Schedule

Unsurprisingly, the average American currently works 9.2 hours a day. But what is surprising, is that more often than not, that's without a break. In fact, according to Online Business Degree, only 1 in 3 people take a lunch break during work hours, with the remaining 66% either eating at their desks or not taking a break at all.

However, Online Business Degree claim that "microbreaks" go a long way—and a break of between just 30 seconds to 5 minutes can improve mental acuity by an average of 13%.

Additionally, for those staring at a computer screen for hours on end, a break of 15 seconds every 10 minutes can reduce fatigue by 50%.

2. Consider Taking a Short Vacation Next Weekend

As simple as it seems, taking a well-earned break may be just your ticket to a long-term reduction in stress levels. Going away for as little as two days (the weekend is a great time for this) can help clear your mind and allow your body to rest, both physically and mentally, preparing you to deliver for the week ahead.

Some studies have indicated that workers living in countries that habitually take more vacations are in fact more productive than American workers, who, on average, take less time off.

Even if you can't afford to go abroad right now, vacating to somewhere within the country can be just as exhilarating.

But, for goodness sake, don't get in the habit of checking emails and responding to work calls while away — that's just counterproductive.

3. Shed the Stress From Your Personal Life

Unlike demands from your manager and monthly productivity reports, your personal life is something you have a fair amount of control over. Take advantage of this by reducing your stress outside of work, by shedding negativity and unnecessary expenses. Finding a good relief from your stress, such as a good hobby, exercise, and meditation can be highly beneficial for both short and long-term well-being.

Dr. Carol, UK-based psychologist, shares her thoughts on the importance of exercise and its links with stress reduction. "Exercises releases endorphins, which are the chemicals responsible for the feel-good factor. When we exercise, we feel good, which helps to relieve stress. Also, high levels of tension are one of the contributing factors of stress, and exercise helps the body to release tension — think 'loosening up’."

4. Shutting Down Your Email Can Reduce Stress

Something that’s probably skipped your attention is just how much of a part email can play in prolonging feelings of stress and being overwhelmed. Particularly if your mail app is constantly chiming, you may find that you experience prolonged feelings of stress or anxiety, which can increase throughout the course of the day.

Logging out of email or temporarily closing down your app can work wonders when trying to focus on meeting demands.

Developers and Family Life

Little do many of us cherish more than our family.

It's often those most close to us that we are so intent on sharing our up-and-down life experiences with, and to whom we express much of our feelings to by sheer default.

However, it's often these very same people that bear the brunt of our — hopefully, occasionally — emotional turmoils, and who are exposed to our behavior at the worst of times.

Conflicts at work, friendship difficulties, relationship troubles, and financial worries are a sensitive topic of conversation many of us are familiar with, and just imagine how increasingly fragile things become when we add extremities into the mix... difficulties managing anger, emotional stresses, and other mental health challenges (whether diagnosed or not).

It's easy to forget that, while our family does indeed love us, they aren't mind-readers, life coaches, and most certainly not personal therapists at our 24/7 beck and call. The truth is, we all have independent challenges to deal with, and there must be a line drawn somewhere with regards to how much we expect from our families in terms of emotional involvement and moral offerings. This brings us to the killer question—how do you know you've begun to expect too much from your family?

1. You Seek Relatives at the First Sign of Trouble and Insist That it's Urgent

Let's be realistic. Not a day goes by in the life of Joe, Joanna, or whoever, that doesn't consist of some form of melodrama, and if you are lucky enough to be avoiding melodramatic encounters on a regular basis, count yourself lucky.

Life has a funny habit of throwing lemons at us, not least when we aren't expecting it, but rather than throwing lemons at our relatives, a more reasonable way of dealing with unforeseen trouble may be necessary. Figuring out workable self-help strategies is a great start to managing small problems that befall us out of the blue.

Talking to family members can often be a great way to gain positive insight into an otherwise dreary situation, but it may be best left until you have a better handle on exactly what is going on. Seeking the emotional support of family only becomes a problem once it becomes an ongoing expectation, and it's easy to fall into that trap once you feel as though it's readily, eternally available.

2. Your Family Are Out of Solutions to Your Problems, and You Can't Accept it

When you begin to notice that your relatives are becoming increasingly annoyed at hearing about your problems, it's time to take a breather.

This is a surefire sign of forced-empathy-induced-exasperation. Yes, you read that right.

"exasperation" — a feeling of intense irritation or annoyance

Family members are usually some of the most understanding people where our personal struggles are concerned, and if not, they'll often try harder than anyone else to relate.

But bear in mind, that there's only so much moral support one person can give, especially stacked up against all they are dealing with too.

A difficulty or inability to accept that your relatives are out of solutions to the challenges you present may also be indicating a vested reliance on their advice or intervention, which could be an indicator of over-expecting.

3. You Talk About Your Problems More Than They Do Theirs

As mentioned previously, relying on family only becomes a problem when it has become an expectation.

Taking family members for granted, and relying on the fact that they are 'always there' will inevitably cause imbalance, and this is a sign that you may be over-expecting.

If two relatives can mutually benefit to an equal extent by supporting each other and are both equally happy to do so, a healthy, long-lasting relationship is in the making.

But if your relatives insist that support is one-sided, heed this warning, and consider your motives. Are you as interested in assisting them as you expect them to help you?

Another thing to note is just how long you spend deliberating over your issues and concerns, whether this is in the accompaniment of your family-member-acting-as-therapist or alone, as the longer you spend dwelling, the bigger the problem can often internally become.

So does this mean you have to deal with things alone?

No, but it does mean that you probably shouldn't take family support, or in particular, family members, for granted, and we should aim to respect them for the individuals they are and try to recognize that their lives aren't care-free either.

Everyone is dealing with their own problems on an individual scale.

To Conclude

The studies mentioned above hint that the typical working adult of 2019 is perhaps having to deal with increasing amounts of work-induced stress than in years gone by.

It's important that, for the benefit of both your physical and mental health, you take steps to reduce your long-term stress level.

How do you deal with stressful periods of work?

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