The holiday season is almost in full swing, and after we’ve finished eating, drinking, and being merry, thoughts often turn toward our New Year’s resolutions. One of the most popular things to focus on is improving health — and it’s no secret that unless you’re careful, spending a lot of time sitting at a desk can be detrimental to your wellbeing.
Learning to code inevitably means clocking extra desk hours, and it’s perhaps wise to work some healthy habits into your routine, so here are some of my suggestions for healthy coding resolutions to get the most out of 2016!
1. Check Your Desk
Sitting slumped in an incorrect position can wreak havoc with your posture, leading to aches and pains, repetitive strain injury, or eye strain. Making sure you have the correct setup can go a long way to preventing this. The right chair, monitor position, laptop stand, or keyboard can all make a world of difference to your comfort. Check out this article on Lifehacker for an excellent overview on how to optimize a sitting desk — and you may want to take things one step further and consider trying a standing or even a treadmill desk.
2. Watch Your Eyes
So when was the last time you thought about your eye health? As well as making sure your work environment is good for your posture, it’s really important to look after your eyes. I’ll be covering this in more detail in an upcoming blog post, but in the meantime, set up your screen so it’s at a healthy angle and brightness level, check the lighting levels in your work area, and make sure to look away from the screen and blink regularly to keep your eyes in top condition.
3. Move Around
Keeping your exercise levels up not only helps your energy and concentration levels, but it can also improve your posture, which can help negate the effects of all that sitting. Whether you like to walk during lunch, do a few pushups during a Pomodoro break, or prefer a swim before breakfast, resolving to move a little more can only help with healthy coding. I’m a fan of the Sworkit app, which has loads of quick, equipment-free workouts with video demonstrations to make sure you stay on track.
It doesn’t have to be a huge workout every day — you can use every opportunity to move just a little. Work in an office? Resolve to ditch the elevator, or go and see your colleagues for a chat instead of just phoning or messaging them. Work from home? Schedule in a mini exercise break — do a few jumping jacks or walk around the house when you take a phone call. You might even want to set up a fake commute by taking a walk or bike ride at the start and end of your day. This can not only give you the opportunity to exercise, but can help psychologically separate home time from study and/or work time — invaluable for the mental health of home workers!
Neck, shoulder, and back tension is prevalent amongst desk users. My favorite way to deal with aching muscles is to do some simple yoga stretches. Do Yoga With Me has a variety of videos specifically for office workers — and for a general, gentle stretch, this 30-minute, full-body workoutby Jessica Smith is one of my go-to routines.
Looking after your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Along with the fake commute mentioned above, it’s really important to remember to take time out on a regular basis. Trying some simple mindfulness or breathing exercises can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and even high blood pressure. Check out apps such as Headspace, with exercises taking only 10 minutes a day.
And if formal meditation isn’t for you, introducing some purposeful pauses or other exercises like mindful eating are perhaps worth trying to see if they suit you better. Even just simply unplugging from all of your tech every now and again to come back to your coding practice refreshed and ready to go works wonders!
Of course there are lots of methods for healthier coding, but those are just a few of my resolutions for 2016. Have any more that I should add to my list? Let me know in the comments section below (tip: click “View Discussion”)!