Better Developer

Corey Prak

Guest Post: World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day

Jerel AKA Im Helping You, a member of the Better Developer Community, brought up this ‘holiday’ to me in our private conversations, and I thought it’d be worth it to take some time talk about it.

In the world of Professional Software Development, the negative aspects of a highly rewarding and demanding career can take its toll. While I can’t speak for everyone else’s experience, burnout and work/life balance has been challenging for almost every job I’ve had.

Hell, even journeys leading up to the world of software dev is tough. I’m referring to people in the community who have been learning on their own, people who are spending long days during coding bootcamps, you get the idea.

As much conviction as we all have to change our lives for the better, life gets in the way, motivation fades, and questions of whether the sacrifices + investment of time and effort are worth it stay with us. In moments of fatigue, those thoughts take up more space in our heads than they should, and as much as we’d like to achieve our goals yesterday, the path of Software Development demands perseverance. For some, it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done.

Did you know that mental health issues can be ‘covered’ by sick days?

As we continue to reach our goals, I think it’s important to not only take a moment to focus on our mental health through our journey, but to be able to identify moments where we need to.

Additionally, I think that a focus on mental health is especially important not just for our sake, but for the good of the health of the relationships between the people who are close to us; the friends and loved ones who see and support us everyday. These people go through this journey with you in a very direct way. We sacrifice moments with them, exert our frustrations on them, and much more. I really believe that being mindful of their mental health is powerful.

The rest of this post are words that Jerel shared with the community which I’ve decided to place here for everyone’s benefit.

For more on Jerel, see his: LinkedIn Github

What is mental health and why is it important?

Well, mental health includes are our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. So in other terms, how we think, feel, or act. It also determines on how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Very important indeed.

World Mental Health Day is not only a reminder to take care yourself, but to fight the stigma of mental illness. There’s still a lot of lack of understanding in mental health/illness, which can cause reluctance in seeking help, treatment, or opening up to others.

I’m here to let you guys know to take it easy today, if possible. All work fields, especially tech can be stressful, and more so in tech, alcohol is readily available and a staple. More commonly, people have a drink after stressful situation, so I’m also here to inform you that it’s not the best idea…

Alcohol actually dampens your body’s response to stress and anxiety (1). This done by the increasing dependency on alcohol, therefore increasing alcohol consumption, (2) and anxiety returning after alcohol wears off. Long-term, this could lead to alcoholism (3).

I’m not telling you guys that you should quit drinking, but rather provide you with better alternatives such as: Meditation – hey, even a lot of superheroes/anime characters had their own way in meditation, and you see how strong they are with a clear mind? You can be the same with a few minutes of meditation too!

Taking a break – It can be hard to get away from a big work project/crying baby/bills, but giving yourself permission to step away, and let yourself do something else, you can feel less overwhelmed. Indulge in your hobbies! It’s important to not avoid your stress, but 20 minutes is good enough to take care of yourself is helpful.

Workout – multiple research done on how exercise benefits your mind just as well as your body, I can vouch for it 100%!

Social Support – It’s always good to reach out and talk, whether a close-friend, family, or SO. Surprisingly, it’s a mild form of therapy which is widely used today, Talk Therapy AKA Psychotherapy (I say mild because I wouldn’t recommend replacing an actual therapist with your SO/close-friend).

And if you really need it (and one the points of mental health day), get help. There’s nothing wrong with therapy, especially if it’s covered by your university or employer!

Resources

Mental Health America: Stress: Coping with Everyday Problems

National Alliance on Mental Illness: Managing Stress

Further Reading, Sources

Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System

Stress and Drinking

The Link Between Stress and Alcohol