The Easy Way to Recover From Burnout as a Developer

You don’t have to switch jobs, stop programming, or go on a dopamine fast

Jun Wu
Jun Wu
Nov 17 · 6 min read
@le_me

Six years ago, I was burned out—like all mid-career technologists (developers, data scientists, software engineers, dev-ops, etc.). I didn’t realize it until I developed a pretty severe case of PTSD. The environment I worked in and the coping mechanisms I developed hid my burnout even from myself; my productivity never slowed down. Even in the depths of dealing with PTSD and depression, I kept on working through it all.

The signs were far more subtle than most people believe. I’ve written this piece in the hopes of benefiting those overachievers who also have trouble recognizing the symptoms.


Subtle Signs of Burnout

Perhaps you have a longer attention span than average or more stamina for serious work. Perhaps your job is your number one passion. Perhaps you’re single and don’t have a family yet. Perhaps you just moved to a new city without a lot of friends close by.

In any case, it’s easy to brush off the signs of burnout. These were my subtle signs. Are you paying attention?

  • Careless mistakes: This one was big. After a while, I was finding bigger and bigger mistakes in my work. I’d catch them just before someone else did.

How to Bounce Back From Burnout

After recovering from burnout and depression, I realized there are ways to bounce back without drastic changes in your life. Once you spot the signs, you have to do the following immediately. If you delay, once depression sets in you’ll need to make big changes in your life to feel better.

  • Experience life and love: The first thing that you need to do when you burn out is to step away from your immediate problems by doing something different. Volunteer, become a regular at a new cafe and meet some new people, or date someone who has no association with your immediate circle of friends. If you have children, spend quality time with them.

Conclusion

Burnout is not the end of the world. You don’t have to switch jobs. You don’t have to stop programming altogether. You don’t even have to go on a dopamine fast.

What you need to do is to get out of your house, your apartment, or your workplace. Every single one of my recovery mechanisms centers around turning your computer off and looking up into the deep blue sky on the way out of the office.

So, go out, reconnect with yourself, reconnect with your body, reconnect with your passions, reconnect with your family and friends, and reconnect with the world around you.

In the end, people will value you for your whole self, not just what you can do for them.

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

Jun Wu

Written by

Jun Wu

Writer, Technologist, Poet: Tech|Future|Leadership, Signup: http://bit.ly/2Wv02me, http://bit.ly/34mkjhe, (Forbes-AI, Behind the Code)

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

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