How to Manage Burnout and Depression as a Developer


Mary Abiodun
Sep 3

Burnout usually starts with a feeling of stress and exhaustion that gets extended beyond normal. After a while, you might begin to notice a consistent lack of vigor and strength to do your work. When this is not checked, it could slide you into depression - a state where you find no meaning in life or in the activities you once enjoyed.

This feeling of stress and exhaustion could be the result of some factors like finding yourself in certain situations where you are performing below your potential and your skills and talents are not given the right form of expression to shine through.

Your environment and the use of unproductive tools for work are also factors that could cause stress for you. A toxic working environment is a good trigger for stress and so is having to work with tools that waste your time and make you feel unproductive. The accumulation of the stress you experience from any of these could lead to burnout over time. 

Now, let’s talk about how you can manage burnout. In other words, what are some of the measures you can put in place to come out stronger and better if you do find yourself in a stressful situation that is leading you into burnout and a possible depression?

1. Get a longer rest than you would normally do.

You can call this “shutting down”. Take a long break that is long enough to help you recover from stress. There is no fixed number of days or weeks to do this. You can start with a few days to see if you are getting better. If not, you can try resting for a week and more. During your period of rest, it is great to avoid anything that could be a source of stress to you. Continued stress can lead to a breakdown and you do not want that.

The rest period is also a great time to reflect and identify the true cause of your burnout or depression. You can refer to the factors mentioned earlier to see if it had been any of those or you could find other factors that triggered it. The period of rest can also be used to devise strategies for overcoming these causes completely so that they do not resurface later. It is also a time to be more self-aware of the triggers for burnout and depression.

2. Seek professional help

In seeking professional help, you can find a therapist or a specialist who has worked with people suffering from depression or recovering from a burnout. They are more likely to understand how best to help you because of their experience and training.

It is also possible to find professional help online using several platforms that deal in health technology. You can download some of these apps, and sign up for telemedicine. A professional will be available to speak with you. This way, you do not need to leave the comfort of your home before you get proper care and medical advice.

3. Talk to someone – a trusted party

Even though you can seek professional help, it is possible that you might not be able to afford the services of a professional as at the time you are going through a depression or a burnout. Talking to someone you trust about your condition can be as therapeutic as talking to a professional. It could even be more effective because the professional could come off as being a stranger to you but your trusted party or friend will not be strange to you.

It is possible to get sound advice and counsel from a friend who has been in a similar situation and that can be all you need to receive healing and change trajectory. Talking to someone is helpful because you are able to share your burden and see your condition in a different light. I totally recommend this because I have seen it work for a data scientist and it could work for you too.

4. Engage in other activities

Burnout can be the result of you doing certain activities repeatedly. As a developer, it is possible to lose sight of time as you constantly debug and code. You might find that you are doing the same activities over and over, day in, day out. Unless you are careful enough to plan out different activities other than those related to software development, you might easily get tired from work. Even if you love what you do, your body will always need time to repair and rejuvenate from stress at work.

Find fun activities outside of work that can augment your normal routine. It can be a hobby you want to explore further, it could be travel opportunities, community projects or hangouts with friends and families. The most important thing is that you are doing something outside of work. This is a form of rest too.

In your quest to manage burnout or depression, what other factors have you found as a trigger for it? What measures have been effective for you in dealing with it? How have you helped your friends to recover from any of these two? 

Share with us in the comments and let’s get the conversation going? We want to know.


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