Web Development and Wellness: Prioritising Your Health

Tim Holt


April 4, 2024

Without giving too much away about my age, let's just say that I was working on the old BBC Micro and Commodore 64 home computers and avidly sitting for hours actually programming them to make them function. Needless to say that as I get older health and well being is becoming more forefront in my life than before.

I still very much love my passion for computers and IT as when I was 13 and web development is an incredibly rewarding profession. You get to bring websites and applications to life, impacting how people interact with the digital world. However, this demanding role can sometimes take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. Long hours, sedentary work habits, and the pressure of deadlines can all contribute to stress and potential health issues. I decided to write this article which will hopefully help and dives into why prioritising your well-being as a web developer is crucial and gives practical tips to stay healthy, happy, and productive.

Common Health Concerns for Web Developers

  • Eye Strain: Staring at screens for extended periods puts a significant strain on our eyes. This can lead to blurry vision, headaches, and dry eyes.
  • Back and Neck Pain: Poor posture while hunched over a computer is a common culprit for back and neck pain amongst developers.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Repetitive typing motions can cause inflammation in the wrists and hands, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Mental Exhaustion and Burnout: The constant problem-solving and pressure to meet deadlines can create mental exhaustion and even burnout.
Poor Posture and sitting too long at your computer makes you less productive and burnt out.

The Power of Stepping Away: Why Breaks Boost Coding Success

This one I am probably the most guilty of and even after all these years I still find myself glueing myself to the screen BUT sometimes, the best solution to a tough coding problem or bug is to walk away for a while. It may seem counterintuitive, but taking breaks during intense debugging or complex problem-solving can be surprisingly beneficial. Here's why:

  • Diffuse Thinking: When you're intensely focused, your brain operates in a 'focused' mode. Taking a break shifts your brain into a 'diffuse' mode. This allows your subconscious mind to continue working on the problem,  potentially generating insights you wouldn't have found otherwise.
  • Mental Reset: Constant focus can lead to mental fatigue. A break allows your brain to reset, improving  concentration and clarity when you return.
  • Reducing Frustration:  When you hit a wall, frustration can cloud your judgment. Stepping away helps clear the emotional fog, allowing you to tackle the problem with renewed perspective.
  • Inspiration Strikes: Inspiration sometimes arrives during moments of relaxation. A walk, a shower, coffee break or simply chatting with a colleague can bring the "aha!" or "Eureka!" moment you were looking for.

How to Take Effective Breaks

By recognizing the value of breaks and stepping away when needed, you allow your brain the space it needs to work its magic. It may just lead to the breakthrough you've been seeking.

  • Truly Disconnect: Avoid checking emails or social media. Engage in an activity that completely shifts your focus away from coding.
  • Short and Frequent: Instead of one long break, several shorter breaks throughout the day might be more effective.
  • Get Moving: A walk outside or a few minutes of exercise can boost oxygen flow to the brain and improve focus.

More Tips for Promoting Physical and Mental Well-being

  • Prioritise Ergonomics: Invest in an ergonomic chair and adjust your monitor and keyboard for optimal posture. Your eyes should be level with the top of the screen, and your wrists should be in a neutral position when typing.
  • Take Frequent Breaks: Implement the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Also, stand up, stretch, and move around briefly every hour.
  • Prioritise Eye Health:  Consider blue-light-blocking glasses and apps that reduce blue light on your screen. Make sure you schedule regular eye exams. This for me is super important, years ago blue light reducing was not around and at the age of 40 I was wearing reading glass.
  • Stay Hydrated:  Drink plenty of water or coffee in my case, throughout the day. Dehydration can worsen fatigue and headaches.
  • Nourish Your Body:  Eat nutritious meals and snacks. Avoid too much caffeine and sugar (another of my weaknesses), which can lead to energy crashes.
  • Get Regular Exercise: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Exercise reduces stress, improves sleep, and boosts energy levels.
  • Nurture Your Mental Well-Being: Practice mindfulness techniques like meditation or deep breathing; these help manage stress and anxiety.
  • Set Boundaries: Learn to say "no" when overloaded, and clearly define your work hours to prevent burnout.
  • Disconnect and Recharge: Schedule regular tech-free time to relax, engage in hobbies, and spend time in nature.
  • Prioritise Sleep:  Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.  A good sleep routine promotes mental clarity and better overall health.
This is also overlooked especially amongst home based workers.

Additional Considerations

  • Consider standing desks: Alternating between sitting and standing can reduce musculoskeletal issues.
  • Talk Therapy: A therapist can help you develop coping strategies for stress and anxiety.
  • Connect with other developers: Share challenges and offer support within your network to reduce feelings of isolation.

Remember: Your Health is Your Greatest Asset!

As a web developer, your well-being directly impacts your creativity, productivity, and career longevity. By making the commitment to care for your physical  and mental health in your early years helps create a sustainable and more fulfilling career.

With the advancement in technology and more products aimed at a more healthy work lifestyle there is no excuse not to look after yourself and your body while you are working. Because of the nature of our work we do tend to overlook the health and mental challenges that go with it.

I hope this article will at least raise some awareness and if you were already aware then it makes it a priority. Take care and stay safe and healthy!

Tim Holt

about the author

Tim, is the Chief Technology Officer at B2B Websites, with over 20 years of expertise in technology leadership and digital transformation. He has a proven track record of delivering impactful solutions that drive growth and efficiency. His deep passion for computers and online development has been the driving force behind his successful career. In addition to his impressive career, his love for snooker and pool began at a young age, and through dedication and practice, Tim has become an accomplished player in both sports. 


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