Staying Healthy and Sane in Software Development

by Noc Team on June 8, 2011

Health in Software Industry

By Halima Khan

Looking after your health — both mental and physical — is one of the best ways to stay sane in these crazy times, especially in the continuous stress giving professionals like the software industry. So how does a person keep their wits about them when everyone around them is losing theirs?

Stress Reduction. If the speed of life is making you stressed look for the “peaceful place we all have within us,” advices Princeton Centre for Yoga & Health. We keep seeing the stressed out software development team and the customers, blaming and pointing fingers at each other day in and day out. There are several reasons which cause stress in the team. Some reasons include poor top leadership, unskilled team, unsupportive customer and poor project planning to name a few.

IT work culture in most countries is totally messed up. Working 12+ hours a day and 6 or even 7 days a week is more the rule than the exception. A majority of IT people suffer from health problems. As most of the IT workforce is still very young, the problem isn’t very obvious today but it will hit with unbearable ferocity when these youngsters get to their 40s. Stress levels are unbelievable high. Stress management is a cover topic in magazines and newspapers and workshops on the subject are regularly overbooked.  Most IT people have hardly any social / family life to talk of. They love their work but collapse due to pressure.

In an anxiety ravaged atmosphere like the one prevalent most commonly in software industry some of the problems faced are:

High Physical Stress:

It is common for employees working 14 hours a day, and many individuals suffer from Computer Related Injuries (CRI). Early symptoms of CRI include pain, numbness, burning eyes, regular need to stretch or massage arms, tingling fingers or arms, or excessive fatigue while working.

Excessive Office Politics:

There is an unusually high office politics, passing the blame around, taking credit of others, back biting and overall a very high level of office politics. Competition and often insecurity at work can boost stress.

No Family life:

It is very common that by the time software professionals come home, family members have already slept or too exhausted themselves. A feeling of loneliness is very common. Depression is fairly common in software industry. Due to the nature of work, even in office you may have no or minimum contact with other people.

Traffic Jams:

Traffic is really bad and unpredictable, it can take 30 minutes to 90 minutes to travel just 15 kilometers. This is unnecessary stress that professionals are exposed to almost every day going and coming back from work.

Lost identity:

Go to any good school in a city, more than half of the students will tell “I want to become a software engineer”. The pride that you are software professional has been lost long time back.

When all this office stress is getting on your nerves, there are healthy and not-so-healthy ways to react. Experts offer seven tips on how to let it all roll over without rolling out your fists:

Stay Calm
The average person faces around 30 frustrations every day, and a high proportion of those frustrations occur at work, says a psychologist. But overreacting to a defective copy machine or an abusive colleague by going into high-drama mode and losing your rage will end up hurting far more than it helps.

Have Some Empathy
Keep in mind, those 30 daily frustrations aren’t just happening to you, but to every person you come across during your workday, from the bad-mannered customer to your inconsistent boss. Be hard on the problem that you are facing, but soft on the people you come across.

Tune Out
Another method for managing stress is to merely border your contact to office drama. “Close your door if you have a door, or close your mind if you have a mind,” says a development consultant.

Perfect the Art of the Blow Off
Don’t get sucked into conversations with irritating coworkers. If someone walks up to you to purposely get a kick out of annoying you, a good response is to walk off.

Break the Bad Mood Cycle
Good moods at work are transmittable, but so are bad moods. Either physically move away to break the negative energy, or else get immersed in your work because negativity is infectious.

Look for Humor
“Don’t take yourself and everyone else so seriously, pretend it’s a sitcom.” That is one advice that is advisable to take seriously and remember.

Close the Door at the End of the Day
Don’t leave issues unsettled at the end of your workday. “If you’ve made a mistake or gotten into a hassle, take the time to apologize in a non-obsequious way.”

Don’t fight the natural order of things

First and foremost, acknowledging that there are forces of nature and we as human beings are controlled by these forces, every second. This is not the other way around. Managing one’s stress depends on choosing whether to cooperate and plan to work with forces of nature OR to drive against it. Finally you might drive against the forces and win, but at what cost?

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