Stack Overflow examines how developers deal with stress • The Register

What are your peers doing to avoid burnout? Stack Overflow research suggests that about half of developers still spend their breaks in front of a screen.

The Programming Q&A resource surveyed 800 developers and found that most of the top five things they do when they need a break involve screens: listening to music (46%), visiting Stack Overflow (41 %), browsing social networks (37%), and watching videos (36%).

In fact, talking with other humans didn’t make the top five, and 4% of respondents had another outlet for stress (perhaps by angrily punching out really terse comments in the source).

Unsurprisingly, another takeaway from the survey was that the happiest developers had an employer that encouraged wellness, both physical and mental.

Sixty-two percent of respondents’ employers encouraged physical and mental well-being at work, and 75% of developers who described themselves as “happy” had just this type of employer. Alas, these figures mean that 38% of employers were not.

So how do you relieve stress?

Physical exercise is a good solution and half of the respondents go for a walk or do another activity when a break is needed.

“It’s one thing for an employer to encourage wellness; it’s another for people to actually change their habits to achieve their own wellness,” the Stack Overflow team noted. Eighty-eight percent of developers surveyed wanted to improve their physical well-being, while 83% wanted to improve their mental well-being.

However, there is a difference between wanting to improve and actually taking action to achieve it. After all, there are a fair number of gyms that seem to have business models based on signing up users and never bothering a treadmill again.

As for the developers surveyed, 57% tried to improve their well-being by simply drinking more water or improving their diet. Slightly fewer prioritized exercise while others intended to socialize with friends and family.

Stack Overflow cited research showing that two in five workers (out of more than 32,000 surveyed between January and September 2021) were at high risk of burnout. Sixty-two percent felt physically and emotionally drained, while 42% were considering quitting.

“Preventing burnout in a rapidly changing industry will always be a challenge,” the team observed. Employers can encourage workers to take breaks and prioritize wellness, but with more than a third of developers spending their breaks browsing social media, avoiding burnout means taking s further away from the keyboard.

Last year, a trio of boffins advised software developers to participate in mindful breathing to improve their sense of well-being.

Not surprisingly, software users aren’t the only ones feeling the strain of working long hours under immense pressure: in 2020, nearly one in five infosec professionals were considering quitting their job due to a overwork or burnout. ®

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