Mental Health for Programmers

Written by  Sascha Mayr   Sascha Mayr   
Woman sitting infront of a computer

Programmers have a unique set of mental health challenges. Their brainpower can be taxed to the limit if they do not set boundaries as a digital nomad. From my own experience and after speaking with a few programmers who are close friends, these are some of the most important points to keep in mind.

As you will be in new surroundings, at the very least, several times a year, it’s important to establish a familiar work location as soon as you arrive in your chosen place. Strange chairs, uncomfortable room climate, noise levels, patrons who talk too much are all things to be aware of. A noisy place creates a noisy mind. Your productivity will surely suffer.

How to find places that are more suitable for programmers?

Programmer in front of a sea view

These sites will help you in many cities:

Or you can always ask or search on popular Facebook groups

Use the search button first though. More than likely someone has asked the same question multiple times before you.

Noise Issues When working as a Nomad

While the right place will certainly help reduce noise, sometimes its just not possible to block everything out. If the budget is there, try some noise-canceling headphones. Although a bit pricey, the Sony Series is a programmer's favorite.

Careful with Coffee Consumption

If you are new to the game, you might think that programmers exist on coffee and not much else. You will soon discover that there is a downside to drinking too much to keep you alert. Like with any drug, a tolerance soon builds and your focus will wane. One or two a day will definitely improve your alertness, but it’s not a cure-all for focus.

Healthier alternatives to coffee include:

Keeping up professional appearances as a Nomadic Programmer

Programmer in a hammock

Important meetings should be conducted from your apartment/hotel.  Keep in mind that most co-working spaces or cafes are not quiet enough for long, intense meetings with clients or weekly/daily stand-ups with your team.. These spaces rarely have good enough internet for video calls and it will not appear that you are very serious. It’s important to keep up “real world” appearances for those who don’t quite understand or accept your nomadic lifestyle.

Being an Introvert as a Programmer

Although you are not certain to be an introvert just because you are a programmer, the fact that you can focus on a single task for hours at a time at your laptop means you are more than likely an introvert or an ambivert than someone who requires social interaction to flourish in your work.

As a nomad, you’ll be challenged to make friends with strangers and even other programmers to increase your professional and social network. But take heart, it’s challenging for almost anyone. Just keep in mind that introverts power up with down time rather than being out in public. Treat yourself with kindness and get off the computer and into something physical or personal that really inspires you to recharge.

Some activities that can help introverts recharge:

“Mens sana in corpore sano”

This ancient Latin phrase (meaning "a healthy mind in a healthy body") expresses what is still true today. Keeping yourself in a good shape is the first step towards being productive in your work and to your overall health. Make sure that you exercise enough, keep a regular sleep cycle and eat healthy. You'll have to put in extra leg work for this as a nomad, since jet lag, new locations, and different cuisines will introduce some obstacles, but it's definitely manageable with the right amount of research about the place you want to go to and generally being aware of this.