You are one of luckiest people at this time (circa 2019) because your job is one of the top jobs of this era. You are the cynosure of all eyes and perceived to be the shaper of the future, you have a made a good choice.
When I was getting started as a Software Developer, I almost got enlisted into the military, at the final stage, nepotism set in and I could not proceed. Some months later, I started my journey to Professional Software Development and thought to myself: “this is better, I will not be spending quality time away from family, I am guaranteed a longer life expectancy (as I will rather be deploying on different environments instead of being deployed to war zones)” 😎.
So far, I have not been totally wrong, but there are things to be wary of. And some of these things are not actually discussed among developers. We need to talk about it because we love what we do and we want to do it for a long time or to a point we feel we have accomplished so much we want to move to a second career.
I will mention some of the things I think a lot of developers should pay attention to. It is possible to see someone who has been this profession for many years without any medical concern, but our bodies have a way of playing tricks on us. It typically tricks us into thinking that all is fine until it is too late.
The Comfort is the Enemy
Sitting is one of the easiest things to do, but it could easily become one of the greatest pointers of danger especially if you seat for so long without breaks. Some medical experts suggest an average of standing for every quarter in an hour that you spend sitting. This is because excessive sitting has been linked to everything from increased risk of obesity and depression to heart diseases, etc. The general rule to observe is:
“If you wait until you have pain before you change positions, it’s too late. This pain is hard to get rid of, so you have to be moving and changing positions before it starts.”
Your posture is as important as what you do.
Beyond sight, the eyes help us to judge depth, interpret new information and identify colors. The eyes are the most used part of the body, every part of your daily work revolve around what your eyes see.
You are not going to become blind using a computer, but you are exposed to Computer Vision Syndrome such as eyestrain, dry eyes, headache, fatigue, difficulty focusing, blurred vision, and shoulder and neck pain. Most of these symptoms go away after work but they can affect your productivity and wellbeing over a long period of time.
Ensure your eyes are comfortable with the font size that you choose. Smaller font size can make you susceptible to eyestrain. It will be a good investment to get anti-reflective glasses just for the sake of the time you spend in front of a screen. Take regular breaks, lubricate your eyes and blink often.
Lastly, you should be 20 to 28 inches away from your computer screen. The top of the screen should be just below your eye level and slightly tilted away from you at a 10° to 20° angle.
It is not uncommon to have back pain after sitting for hours especially when not paying attention to your posture. Sometimes we end up slouching because we want to focus and pay more attention. DON’T! You should actually sit back and let your backrest on your seat at about 100 –110degrees while your feet are flat on the floor. Use a posture corrector, a lumbar pillow if necessary. Do cobra stretch regularly.
It is possible to feel a strain on your wrist after spending long hours at your work station. Since ergonomics is not a tool but a process, you need to always pay attention to postures that work for you. I have resolved this by tilting my keyboard to about 20 degrees or more and this has been helpful, always find the point that is convenient for you.
Learn Touch Typing
Touch typing is the ability to use muscle memory to find keys fast, without using the sense of sight, and with all the available fingers, just like piano players do.
While you do not need this to be a successful developer. Touch typing is will improve your productivity and help your health a great deal as you do not need to repetitively look at all your keyboard all the time. The benefit of this will be appreciated in the long term.
Get A Fitness Plan
Do not let the work you love be the all about you. And do not see the idea of having a fitness plan to be something strange. It does not have to be a gym membership, it could be as simple as having a goal for move minutes daily. Use apps like Google Fit to track your fitness goals. Be committed to your plan.
Eat healthily and sleep well, understand what best works for you, are you a night owl or an early bed. Good Sleep solves a lot of health problems.
While this piece is not for everyone, we should all try to find something else we are passionate about aside coding. It could be Swimming, Public speaking, arts, politics, photography, volunteerism etc. Find people of like minds.
Get a real life, find people that care about you and you truly care about. Share your problems, get help whenever you need it.
It is also not uncommon to see that developers do not take time off except when we can’t do without it, we should take time off and respect it by doing away with our work tool. If you have health insurance, use it at least just for a general checkup.
No doubt, our brains are always exercised but our bodies need at least half of what we do to our brains. According to Buddha, “To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear”.