When talking about the work of a programmer many think of cool companies, where there are pool and Ping-Pong tables, where you can telework a lot and have a lot of time flexibility, you don’t have to work facing the public and you can also go dressed practically as you like.

Even if all of the above is true, there is a hidden face that does not receive coverage in the media and that is almost a taboo subject that cannot be talked about in the software development industry. That dark side is the high rate of occupational stress (or occupational burnout) that exists in the sector.

Many developers have a hard time publicly admitting to working stress because a good programmer is expected to be able to work on large projects with tight deadlines, programming, testing, identifying errors and correcting them, and learning the technology by software development training courses are needed to carry them out with the best possible quality. It is not well in the history of a programmer to have suffered this syndrome.

What is occupational burnout syndrome?

It has become such a common term that everyone is familiar with it. The phrase “I’m too burned by work” is so worn out that, like many other things today, it has been trivialized and has lost its true meaning. It has become almost one more crutch we use when we talk with friends and family.

But one thing is to have a bad day, or a bad week for that matter, at work, and another is to be really burned. If you are really burned and suffer from this syndrome, the problem interferes with your health and your quality of life in general.

The syndrome of professional attrition is a condition that in broad strokes would consist of the presence of a prolonged response of stress in the organism to the emotional and interpersonal stressors that occur at work, which includes chronic fatigue, inefficiency and denial of what happened.

Work-wear or burnout syndrome

The burnout is defined as a state of chronic stress and these are its main symptoms:

Physical and emotional exhaustion includes:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased concentration
  • Shortness of breath and chest pain
  • Immune depression and more diseases
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Depression and feelings of hate and guilt

Feeling of cynicism and detachment from work includes:

  • Lack of enjoyment at work
  • Pessimism and negativity
  • Detachment from work and the environment
  • Social isolation
  • Feeling of inefficiency and not feeling fulfilled, includes:
  • Apathy, feeling of worthlessness and restlessness
  • Irascibility for work reasons
  • Lack of productivity and performance

Together these symptoms can lead to the inability to function well on a personal and work level. Although some of these symptoms, in the three enunciated areas, overlap, each of them has its own symptomatology. Many are similar to stress since the difference between stress and work-wear is a degree issue. The best way to prevent burnout is to identify these symptoms as soon as possible in their less severe grades, since at lower intensity, the easier they are to relieve.

Why do programmers suffer professional wear?

The burnout seems to have a higher incidence among programmers among professionals from other sectors. I don’t know why it happens but I imagine it is due to a number of obvious reasons. They are ideas without scientific foundation, deduced from our work environment:

The first is physical. Sitting all day in front of the computer is not healthy and let you down, which in turn leads you to be constantly eating things that stimulate the body (sugars, soft drinks, etc.), which affect sleep and others. And in the end, this generates a feeling of resignation, which in the end degenerates into resentment towards work, since “changing life” implies “changing jobs” in the head of a person in this situation.

The second reason implies the fact that programming is a very intensive and stressful cognitive work, and mental fatigue has a toll.

Thirdly, as a programmer, you can reach professional attrition because the work you do in the background alienates your soul a bit and is sometimes not very rewarding. You work locked in yourself and the medals, many times, are hung by others. The only solution for this is to take time off and do things that help you connect with your soul to identify what you would like to work without thinking about money as a factor to consider.

And fourthly, work-wear is caught when you repeatedly make many sacrifices and put a lot of effort into solving problems that run a great risk of not being easily solved and fails as a rule. The strange thing is to solve them. Your mental state is of pessimistic prediction by default and in the end; you condition your brain to think that work equals failure.