Staying healthy and happy as a software engineer

Tennis practice — 2011

As one starts practicing software engineering as a career, one quickly discovers that time goes exponentially faster in this industry. Well, time going faster is not actually true but it is the setup that makes it feel this way. The life of a software engineer involves:

  • long hours in front of the computer working
  • long hours in front of the learning.
  • long hours in front of the computer screen researching
  • long hours in front of the computer screen on email lists
  • long hours in front of the computer screen …. well you get where am
     going with this

There’s so much to be accomplished with so little time in front of a computer screen that we end up spending a lot of our lives indoors, sitting down. This routine creates the perfect atmosphere for bad health. This is because one will have no time for important things like working out or having a proper meal.

This is never a problem in the short term but as time progresses the negative effects of the lifestyle become increasingly hard to ignore. Personally I’ve noticed that living this way has the following effects on me:

  • It becomes harder to solve problems in a timely manner
  • I’m generally more grumpy
  • All the aspects of the discipline from programming to learning become
     very uninteresting.

Because of the issues above. I’ve found it pays, at least in my case to
build a parallel routine that is designed to cater to one’s physical and
mental health. What I do lately is:

  • A 90 minute roadwork workout
  • Taking time off, on weekends, to visit family and friends.
  • Taking time out of my day to cook my own meals. This is practical for
     folks who work from home
  • Taking some time out for light meditation

Following the routine above, with discipline, has helped improve my overall outlook on life and I find that I enjoy my craft once again like I did when I had just started out.

The other thing I’ve found out is that the things that I do to revitalize myself, are very different from the things that the folks that inspired me to live this way do. What I am trying to get at here is that there’s a unique set of activities for everybody who wishes to live healthier, happier and sharper as an engineer.

Starting out is not easy or fun but the rewards are well worth it. So I would like to encourage anyone to go out and experiment with different types of recreational activities, non-related to software engineering and find out what works for them then creating a habit. I hope doing so improves your general outlook on life.

Good luck on your journey.

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