So you decided to do it — embark on a journey to become a software engineer. You may have thought this career choice would change your life for the better and allow you some freedom to continue your creative practice .
Soon, you realize that this is no easy feat. The days are long and filled with fast paced tough learning, buggy apps, and tentative deadlines. You might miss writing music, taking a brush to a canvas, or working with video. It can feel a lot different from navigating on your own time, speed, and working on something you’re deeply passionate about. It‘s even more of a struggle if you have no prior experience coding and you’re having to work the logical side of your brain into overtime. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to help keep your sanity so you can push through and realize the art of coding!
1. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is so important to maintaining mental health and boosting productivity. Take time to feel grateful for the experience of being in a bootcamp. Remember the reasons why you decided to take this path. It might be having a career that challenges you as a thinker or having better quality of life. Find time to meditate in the morning if you’re up to it. Eat foods that keep you energized and satisfied. Pamper yourself with self-care. Look into aromatherapy to boost your mood. Try writing affirmations or keeping a journal to log your feelings and thoughts.
2. Get Active
Have a lot of frustration building up because your app isn’t working or a topic is too hard? Or frustrated you haven’t had time to work on your craft? Get moving! If you’re into slow and steady movement, try yoga or pilates. Like something a bit more rigorous? Try dance workouts, Zumba, or HIIT exercises. Get outdoors and immerse yourself in nature’s scenery by going for a bike ride, long run, or quiet hike. You may find that when you do sit down again to work, you have better focus, clarity, and stamina to get things done.
3. More of a Couch Potato? Disconnect With Media You Love!
If you’re not into being active or you’re struggling with mindfulness, set aside small chunks of time for yourself to decompress with media. Taking a break to look at something other than code can give you the little recharge you need and allow for some creative inspiration. You could play a video game to escape for a bit. Or you can set some Netflix and chill time while enjoying your favorite meal. You can decide to spend a few hours twice a week, just to yourself or with friends to watch a popular show. If you’re into social media, break out the camera and take creative pics outside on a walk or indoors to document your coding experience.
4. Set Up Blocks of Time to Focus on Work
Burnout during a bootcamp is real. Sometimes you might even feel guilty that you want to take a break when you know you want to become a better coder or get the app working. It’s so important to find a balance between relax time and focus time that works for you. Planning out blocks of time for you to code can help. Figure out how you learn best and what time you’re most productive. You might decide to work on code for a few hours and take an hour break in between each block. Or maybe you like to work for shorter periods of time and have short breaks in between. Maybe your best time to work is late night instead of mornings. If you don’t want to organize time to code, you can plan for creative time or artistic tasks you want to do while you’re in the bootcamp or afterwards. Whatever plan you choose, make sure to stick with it for a while and modify what doesn’t work as you go along.
5. Talk it Out
Talking to others about your experience as a budding software engineer is helpful. Talk to friends about any struggles you are having. Let them know that you might need some space and how they can help you succeed. If you’re feeling like family and friends may not understand, talk to people who are in your situation. Reach out to other classmates and vent. You might be surprised that a lot of people feel the same way you do. You can also attend Meetup groups or workshops with other software engineering professionals and ask for valuable advice!
Take things one day at a time to find the right balance between working hard and rest. A coding bootcamp can be overwhelming at times but you’ll push through it! If you have any additional tips that you recommend, drop it in the comment section below!