Stress in tech industry - my way of dealing with it
I read a lot of concerning posts/tweets/statements lately about people who regularly suffer under stress.
Since I am an independent programmer I follow mostly other developers and there is an alarming increase of messages indicating that people in our industry are stressed out constantly.
„... have lots of trouble keeping my sanity“,
„... all that stress by giving myself tons of other things to work on...“,
„... I love my job but stressed thinking about the week ahead“.
I also know several programmers who already had a burn out and even after recovery they seem to have problems finding the right balance between work and life.
Pandemic related working from home seems to make it even worse.
According to a 2020 survey which questioned more than 3000 employees at companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, people are more burned out than ever before when working from home. Almost 70% of the employees surveyed said they feel more burned out than they did when working at the office. See this article for more infos.
When working from home we’re missing all the microinteractions with other people in the office, hallway or while commuting, which may sound trivial but in the end that’s one of the things that can make us happy.
It seems like we are all desperately in need for a tool to help us get calm and relaxed again, to get rid of stress and it‘s companions: racing minds, sleeping disorders, anxiety, physical pain and whatnot.
Luckily, there is such a tool. And it‘s free for everybody!
We don‘t have to buy anything, it doesn‘t come with a subscription model and we can literally use it anytime and anywhere, without the need to charge it every day.
I am talking about the breath.
Not the esoteric, flip sandal and incense stick type.
Just simple, conscious breathing.
The way we breath affects our physical and mental wellbeing directly.
But as always, there is a flip side to that coin.
You should build some form of daily routine. Although there are several very good emergency breathing techniques to reduce stress immediately, the full benefits of conscious breathing only unfold when regularly practiced.
Usually we don‘t think about the way we breath. And we are lucky that breathing is part of our autonomic system - it would really suck if we had to think of every single inhalation or exhalation.
But we can breath in a conscious and controlled way, we can play with the rhythm, volume and frequency and even hold our breath.
We can activate our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) as well as our parasympathetic nervous system (relax and calm down).
We can even shake up our autonomic nervous system by alternating between sympathetic and parasympathetic stimulation. This kind of breathing is called hormetic breathing. Our body is able to adapt to moderate environmental or self-imposed challenges to prepare for more severe challenges (aka Hormesis).
And this is just the beginning. By learning just a few techniques you‘ll get a versatile toolset to work towards relaxation and calmness or to charge up your body with energy, if that‘s what you want.
The term Breathwork stands for various breathing exercises which can influence our mental, emotional and physical state.
The benefits of breathwork are endless - and backed by science. There are a lot of scientific papers regarding the influence of our autonomic nervous system by breathing. That should definitely convince even over-analytic persons, who want to know how and why things work - like me for example.
I would recommend breathwork to each and every person.
In 2012 I started to develop stress related tension in my neck which led to severe headaches within an hour. Every time I had too much tasks on my todo list, or ran into a problem before a deadline, I eventually had to take pain killers, because the headaches did not go away. I also couldn‘t travel longer distances by train and or plane without pain. Sometimes even small private problems or emotional demanding tasks were enough to start the avalanche. I tried a lot, from neck massages to needle cuchins, from yoga to meditation. Nothing really worked reliably. Only the pain killers and regular visits to my costly Osteopath.
I felt so trapped in this situation and this went on for seven long years. I got so used to it that I always had pain killers with me. I usually had to take them 5 days a week. It became my everyday life.
That‘s when I stumbled upon breath work. Slowely but surely I developed an understanding of our breath and with daily exercise I manged to get completely independent. Today I would have to search for my pain killers, because I don‘t know where I put them - an impossible thought a few years ago.
And so many things started to change within me on my way to breath mastery. Things I didn‘t even notice or question before, like my monkey brain. The constant chatter and racing thoughts, mixed with feelings from the past.
Today I feel like a different person. My mind is mostly calm, I am living more mindful and am able to enjoy so many things I didn‘t use to notice before.
And when it comes to work, I don‘t feel any pressure, even when there‘s too much work and too little time. I am getting „into the flow“ while coding more frequently, which is not just fun, but also very productive!
Breathing literally changed my work life and private life. I truly believe I became a better person.
And to make one thing sure: there are days, where I still get stressed. Even days where I feel my neck to get tense again. But I recognize it much much earlier and I know what to do to stop it before it escalates.
Breathwork is something I would never want to miss again. It transformed me and I am so thankful. That‘s why I decided to become a breath coach, because I want to support as many people as possible to take control over their mental health.
Since 2020 I am a certified Breath Instructor, so if you want to find out more or if you want to try breathing techniques, reach out to me.