Life as a web developer can be tricky. When most of your time is spent sitting in front of a computer, good habits such as eating nutritiously, keeping up with a fitness routine, and even taking care of your mental health can fall by the wayside.
However, making an effort to eat well, stay in shape, and practice self-care can improve your quality of life, both on the job and off. You’ll likely see benefits that affect your work as well, such as increased focus and motivation.
In this post, we’ll discuss some of the challenges of staying healthy when you work in web development. Then we’ll share six key tips for improving your health. Let’s get started!
The Challenges of Staying Healthy as a Web Developer
There are many aspects of working as a web developer that make it especially challenging to stay healthy. Most significantly, the job requires long hours sitting in front of a computer.
Lots of time spent in front of a computer can affect your vision and your sleep patterns. It can also lead to poor posture, which can cause back and neck pain.
Web development may even make it difficult to maintain your mental health. Self-employment and long, demanding hours can lead to a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and burnout. Therefore, being intentional about your physical and mental health is key when you’re working in web development.
How to Stay Healthy as a Web Developer (6 Tips and Tricks)
Every person is different, which means that advice regarding health isn’t one-size-fits-all. If you’re having trouble, make sure to consult a physician or a mental health professional (since we are neither).
In the meantime, however, the tips and tricks below can help you start forming healthier habits.
1. Use Meal Planning to Boost Nutrition
Many of us go through our days eating whatever sounds good, or trying to throw together haphazard ‘meals’ from the random items we picked up at the grocery store. Without meal planning, it’s almost impossible to keep track of what you’re eating each day.
While you can find meal plans online to follow, it’s just as easy to create your own from scratch. That way you can work in foods you already know you enjoy so that sticking to your plan doesn’t feel like a chore or punishment.
Therefore, consider scheduling some time in your week for planning meals, grocery shopping, and food preparation. You can keep track of your meal plan on paper, on a calendar, or using whatever other tools you like.
To start, simply note what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. You can even plan out your snacks if you want to. Just make sure that your nutrition throughout the week is balanced – there should be some variety in your diet, and it should include plenty of healthy items.
2. Schedule Your Fitness Routine So It Fits into Your Lifestyle
Web development can be demanding on your time. It’s easy to believe you don’t have room in your schedule to work out. However, there’s usually more time in the day than you think there is.
Scheduling your workouts can make it more likely that you’ll actually show up for them. First, you’ll need to find a time that will be relatively convenient for you. For example, perhaps there’s a gym near your office where you can stop on your way to or from work.
Maybe you’d like to get your exercise out of the way and tackle it first thing in the morning, or you might prefer the evening instead. Whatever time of day you choose, the important thing is to stick with it. Working out at the same time every day is more effective than exercising sporadically.
It can also be helpful to incorporate a variety of types of fitness into your schedule. You might plan to run on Wednesdays and take a trip to the gym on Fridays, for example. This is both better for your overall health and keeps your routine from getting too dull.
Finally, if you’re not sure where to get started with your fitness routine or you just need some extra accountability, consider hiring a personal trainer. Just a few sessions with a professional can help steer you in the right direction. Plus, you’re more likely to show up if you know there’s someone waiting on you.
3. Practice Self-Care to Improve Mental Health
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Depression and anxiety can become debilitating, and have an impact on your work and your personal life. For that reason, implementing a self-care routine is key.
First, make sure to set clear boundaries around your time. It’s easy to get carried away with checking your work email outside of office hours, or taking on extra projects when you’re already overworked. Committing to maintaining separate work and personal lives will give you a chance to unwind.
It’s also helpful to create and keep up with valuable relationships. Whether it’s friends, a significant other, or family members, it’s important to have someone you can talk to about anything that may be bothering you, work-related or not.
Plus, studies have shown that interacting with other people on a regular basis can decrease stress and anxiety. Spending time with others in some way at least once a week is not only entertaining but good for your mind as well.
Finally, consider starting up a meditation practice. As cheesy as it may seem, meditating can help decrease your stress and anxiety too. Taking a fifteen-minute break during your workday to meditate can help you recenter, and finish off the day strong.
4. Keep Food Away from Your Desk to Avoid Snacking
Whether you work from home, in an office, at coffee shops, or even in a co-working space, it can be easy to fall into a habit of snacking regularly. When food is easily accessible, it’s hard to keep yourself from eating it, especially if you’re distracted by work.
The simplest solution is to keep food away from your workstation. You can start by clearing out the snack drawer in your desk. If you like working in coffee shops, leave your credit card at home and bring enough cash for just one or two drinks.
If you actually become hungry during the day and aren’t simply eating due to boredom or ease of access, plan out when you’ll have your snack time and what you’re going to eat. Preferably that will involve something healthy, like a piece of fruit or some nuts.
This will help you avoid snacking more than you should, and prevent you from eating mindlessly. Eating at your desk can also decrease productivity, so being intentional when you eat outside of mealtimes is key.
5. Take Screen Breaks to Decrease Tension and Reduce Eye Strain
As a developer, you likely spend at least eight hours a day staring at a computer – more, since you probably use screens outside of your job as well. Taking screen breaks is vital to maintaining your overall health.
First, screen breaks can help minimize the chance of vision damage. ‘Computer Vision Syndrome‘ or ‘Digital Eye Strain’ can result in blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.
It’s crucial to take regular breaks throughout your day to avoid these symptoms and other lasting effects. Every 20 minutes or so, look up from your screen and focus on something in the distance for about 20 seconds.
Additionally, it’s best to take a 15-minute break for every two hours of screen time. This is a great opportunity to get up and stretch or walk around a bit. These short breaks can also help prevent tension from building up in your neck and shoulders.
6. Go On Vacation or Get Outside to Recharge
In the U.S., most people don’t take all of their vacation days, even when they get paid time off. Our tendency to overwork can have serious negative effects on our physical and mental health, which makes taking time off a necessity.
There is no shame in taking all the vacation days you’re given – that’s what they’re for! If you’re a freelancer or otherwise don’t get paid time off, it’s still ideal to factor some vacation time into your schedule and budget.
Vacations have been found to decrease the risks of heart attack and stroke, as well as improving mental health and productivity. In the long run, taking time off could help boost your career by keeping you healthy, rather than setting you back.
Studies have also shown that time spent outside can help recharge your batteries. Time in nature can improve short-term memory, reduce fatigue, and inflammation, boost your creativity and focus, and have other health benefits.
You may spend your vacation days traveling to National Parks or similar locations. Or you could simply take time over the weekend to get outside and go for a short hike. Either way, spending time outdoors is an excellent way to get away from your screen and improve your health.
Nutrition, fitness, and mental health are all important if you want to excel in both your personal and professional lives. However, there are many aspects of working as a web developer that can make staying healthy difficult.
In this post, we’ve shared six tips and tricks for improving your health as a web developer:
- Use meal planning to boost nutrition.
- Schedule your fitness routine so it fits into your lifestyle.
- Practice self-care to improve mental health.
- Keep food away from your desk to avoid snacking.
- Take screen breaks to increase productivity and decrease tension.
- Go on vacation or get outside to recharge.
Do you have questions about nutrition, fitness, or other aspects of staying healthy as a web developer? Ask away in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pexels.