Beating Burnout: How Our Software Engineers Stay Healthy

Picture a software developer.

They look something like this, right?

No? Fair enough. Most of them do spend many hours sitting. But at Hack Reactor we have learned that self-care is not just a good idea, it can be the difference between letting the stress overwhelm you and accomplishing everything you set out to do at the program. That’s why each week, students are encouraged to participate in a health initiative. These programs provide a variety of fun activities that allow students to get a breather.

What do these health initiatives focus on? Mostly the stuff you know you should be doing but never make time for: walking, hydrating, push-ups, even sleep--our hackers often stay late trying to crack their latest challenge or putting new features on their apps. By focusing on one thing they can do each week to stay healthy, students get outside more and burn off stress.

Some of the health initiatives we’ve had in the past are walks to Privately Owned Public Open Spaces (or POPOS), healthy food week, and Stair Wars (in which students fight off Darth Elevator by...taking the stairs).

The connection between health and school performance is intuitive, but it is also backed up by data. A study at Saginaw Valley State University found that college students who exercised daily had better grades than those that didn’t, even when accounting for other factors. Specifically, on a 4.0 point scale, daily exercisers was an average boost of .4 to their overall grades. This finding dovetails with similar research done by Columbia University, University of California and the Department of Education among others, which have all shown that exercise improves student academic achievement.

The larger point is that, contrary to the joke that software engineers are machines that turn junk food and coffee into code, programming takes creativity, teamwork, and patience. A little time away from the screen can help all three.

Feeling energized? No time like the present to apply to Hack Reactor.

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