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The topic of self-care isn’t discussed that often in the world of software development. Our teams are always working to deliver the next big feature or focused on an upcoming release. While we are all cognizant self-care is important, it is time we become more mindful in our approach.

The mindfulness movement is gaining momentum with generations of all ages, and, in its simplest form, it is about how to shape your mindset. The way in which you perceive that around you and your reactions are tied directly to your mindset.

The good news is you can retrain your brain through a series of techniques to help you focus on the present moment, which can lead to improvements in both physical and mental health.

The first objection you might have to pause to be present is that you are too busy and don’t have the time. Yet, in a Ted Talk titled, “All it takes is 10 minutes,” Andy Puddicombe, describes how it only takes 10 minutes to harness that transformative power of mindfulness.

In your role, you rely on your mind for everything you do, and you are good at what you do because you are wired a certain way. Mindfulness isn’t out to change the way you are wired; it is there for you to learn how to remove distractions that are interfering with you enjoying life to its fullest. By taking care of yourself and your brain, you will find greater fulfillment each day.

Now that may sound cheesy to some of you, yet if you think about a life retrospective the same way you do a software dev cycle retrospective, what would your findings be? Think about the last joyful moment you experienced—did you catalog the emotion of gratitude?

Gratitude is an important quality and an attitude that can immediately change your outlook on your circumstances. Once you realize that not everything is in your control and that you can’t change the past, but what you can do is focus on the right now—your mind becomes clearer. Now, mindfulness isn’t a constant state of being, yet this mindset shift gives you an opportunity to experience gratitude more frequently and not only when it is forced, let’s say for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“How does this tie back into software development?” you ask. It gives you a new perspective on the work to be done and a heightened sense of empathy as you work to deliver solutions. With a clearer mind, you worry less about repeating past mistakes, you are more laser-focused and those productivity-busting distractions are minimized. You have become the best version of yourself, and the best version of yourself is capable of extraordinary things. Often, we don’t realize that our thoughts can be self-sabotaging, and gratitude is a powerful emotion that is manifested through mindfulness.

The other tie-in is how mindfulness impacts your happiness, and your level of happiness can be directly correlated to your job satisfaction. What does happiness have to do with anything? Well, when you are happy, you tend to be more creative in your role—and in software development, solving problems creatively is the name of the game.

Your happiness level also influences how you approach conflict or differences in opinions, and how you overcome obstacles. In the workplace, employees who can think outside of themselves, who are able to rethink their assumptions, and who are in control of their reactions are the most sought-after individuals.

To find the right approach for you to allow thoughts to come and go, there are many resources out there and even apps, like Calm, that offer guided meditations and other practices. The goal is to help you take a step back, rethink your opinions as not facts, and then step forward with a perspective that is open to possibilities. We are all on different journeys and we all have different experiences that make up who we are and that is ok. Yet, with the mind being the wonderland it is, you owe to yourself and the ones you love to explore mindfulness and unlock a whole new host of experiences.

5 Things To Try

As a fan of checklists, I have five things you can do right away to give mindfulness a shot.

  1. Get out a pen and a piece of paper. Take five minutes to doodle and see where it takes you. While you doodle, focus on the pen and the paper, and see what you produce without any direction.
  2. Grab a sticky note and write one thing you are thankful for today and put in on your monitor. Throughout the day you will be reminded of what you are thankful for, even when there are unsettling distractions around you.
  3. Breathe. This is one many of us struggle with, yet it is good advice for everyone. Consciously taking a series of deep breaths helps calm our nervous systems naturally.
  4. Move around. In our line of work and with the fact that fewer of us are in traditional offices, it is likely you are not moving your body during the workday as you had in the past. You do not have to run at lunch, but even some slow and steady movement can win the race when you need a pick-me-up.
  5. Take a Twitch break. Work-from-home life can be isolating, and establishing a community connection can help us reengage. Of course, I am biased if you need recommendations, but Code It Live offers enlightening commentary and fun banter on software development. Tune in live or watch episodes on demand.

If you are interested in more topics like mindfulness, please drop a comment below. We are interested in ways we can be impactful outside the walls of our software solutions, and hearing from you will help us deliver content that you find valuable.

About the Author

Eve Turzillo

Eve is a senior developer advocate at Progress and is enthralled in everything to do with web debugging and the world of network traffic. When not writing content or streaming, you can find her at your favorite developer events.

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