- Gary Huynh
Alright, code wranglers, it's time to zen out a little in this next episode of our mental health series. Get ready for "Mindfulness and Coding: How to Incorporate Mindful Practices into Your Development Routine". Let's unravel the mysteries of the mindful world, all while keeping our fingers firmly on the keyboard.
We all know the drill. The code is flowing like a tranquil river, the functions are aligning like the stars on a clear night, and the bugs... Well, let's just say, for once, they're behaving. Then, out of nowhere, a wild problem appears! Your tranquil river becomes a turbulent whirlpool, the stars seem out of reach, and those bugs? They're having a rave in your codebase.
Before the panic sets in, remember the words of mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn: "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf." In his book "Wherever You Go, There You Are", he talks about how mindfulness helps you ride the waves of life, navigating their crests and troughs with poise and balance. Yes, even the tidal waves of coding crises.
But what exactly is mindfulness, and how can we code-wielding warriors use it in our daily routines? Simply put, mindfulness is the art of being fully present and engaged in whatever you're doing at the moment. It's about not getting lost in thoughts about the past (like that regretful all-nighter to meet the sprint deadline) or the future (like the next all-nighter lurking around the corner).
Applying mindfulness to your development routine can help you reduce stress, increase focus, and handle those pesky bugs and unexpected problems with more calmness and clarity. So, how do we do it? Do we need to sit cross-legged on our ergonomic chairs, chanting mantras? Well, not unless you want to (and if your chair is that comfortable, do share the brand!).
Instead, consider these practical steps:
Single-tasking: Our industry glorifies multitasking, but it's time to rebel. Focus on one piece of code, one feature, or one bug at a time. As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh advises in "The Miracle of Mindfulness", concentrate on the task at hand and let go of distractions. Your code - and your mind - will thank you.
Breaks and breathers: Do not underestimate the power of a pause. Step away from your screen every so often, maybe every 25 minutes (Pomodoro Technique, anyone?). Use this time to take a few deep breaths, stretch, or just enjoy the non-pixelated world for a moment.
Mindful code review: When reviewing your code or others', take your time. Don't rush to find errors or fixes. Instead, adopt an attitude of curiosity and learning. Every line of code has a story, so listen to it.
Meditative moments: Consider incorporating formal mindfulness practices, like meditation, into your routine. Apps like Headspace or Calm provide guided sessions ranging from a few minutes to longer periods. Find what works for you.
Remember, as we said earlier, coding can sometimes feel like surfing on colossal waves. But with mindfulness, you won't just be clinging to your surfboard, desperate to stay afloat. Instead, you'll be carving through those waves like a pro, finding joy and satisfaction in the journey, not just the destination.
Tune in next time as we explore the role of physical exercise in boosting mental health for developers. Until then, keep coding and keep breathing!
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. Hyperion.
- Hanh, T. N. (1976). The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation. Beacon Press.