Dealing with Stress as a Developer

Daniel Worthy

About Me

  • Name: Daniel Worthy
  • Married: Amanda
  • Kids: 2
    • Lily - 5
    • Hunter - 1.5
  • Occupation 1: Rockfish Digital, Enterprise Architect
  • Occupation 2: U of A ITR, FE Instructor
  • The Socials:

I like to build stuff with:


Primary Areas of Focus

  • Before Work
  • During Work
  • After Work
  • What to do if nothing seems to work

Why is stress different for developers

  • Our job is hard
  • Almost 100% mental
  • Rarely something we can control or directly influence
  • Our work is frequently at the end of the projet pipeline

Iterate Techniques to Find What Works

  • Try new things periodically
  • Don't waste time or money on stuff that doesn't help.

Rule #1

Family First

No Exceptions

Before Work Stress Relief

How to setup for a successful day.

Turn the Coffee Pot On

Do this before anything else....
unless it automatically comes on.

Make Your Bed!

  • Encourages good habits
  • Immediate sense of accomplishment
  • Clean bed === less cluttered room
  • Little things right lead to big things right
  • Bad days end with a well made bed

Plan Your Day

Spend 5 minutes and get a rough plan of the day and do your best to stick with it.

TODO List:

  • Finish Feature
  • Start Code Review
  • Email Fred

Don't Do List:

  • Watch Youtube
  • Browse
  • Yell at Ted

Work Out

Exercising in the morning is one of the best ways to kick off your day.

But working out sucks....

Yes, but successful people do it!


  • Ease into it - don't start with working 1 hour a day 7 days a week.
  • Find resources -,, ....
  • Set realistic goals - reward yourself for small victories
  • Find what is right for you - ignore the fad diets and workout routines

Game & Working Out

Treadmill It

VR Workouts

During Work

  • Job Performance
  • Social Stressors
  • Distractions
    • Email
    • IMs
    • Drive Bys
    • Social Media
  • Long Days

Get Frequent Feedback

A common cause of anxiety and stress is not knowing how well you are performing. Annual evaluations don't provide enough information to go off of for very long.

  • Beware of the complement sandwich.
  • Weekly 1 on 1s with your boss.
  • Monthly 1 on 1s with your boss's boss.
  • 1 on 1s with a member of your HR team


Complaining provides you stress relief with instant gratification, but it's not a very effective long term solution.

  • Find someone you trust
  • Complain to attempt to find a solution
  • Complain up the chain, not down SPR
  • Don't vent on social media
  • Write yourself an email

Don't be a Perfectionist

Learn what "good enough" is and move on

Office Politics, Drama & Gossip

  • Politics - No
  • Drama - No
  • Gossip - No
  • Focus on your job and responsibilities.



Losing focus is the biggest hinderance to your productivity throughout the day. It can take up to 20 minutes to get back to focused when distracted.

Remix Your Soundtrack

Use music to block out ambient noise around you.

Don't listen to

  • music with lyrics
  • music with ads
  • aggressive music


  • Play it and leave it
  • Classical Orchestra music - Prime Music
  • Video Game music
  • Layer white noise - Noisli

Cheap Noise Cancelling Headphones

Ear Buds

Shooting/Safety Earmuffs


Minimize the number of times you check your email and make rules like crazy.

Scott Hanselman's 3 Email Rules

  • Invites - immediately into 'Invites' folder
  • External Email - '@' is in senders name except if it contains 'rockfish' or client name
  • CC - my name is in CC and not high importance
  • BCC/Distro - my name is not in To and not high importance. Relies on CC rule
  • Inbox - Everything else
  • Client Rule Only - Only runs when Outlook is open.


These tools greatly help team communication, but wreck your productivity.

  • Mute casual channels - general, random, common interest
  • Fine tune your notification preferences
  • Hide images by default.
  • Treat it as an asynchronous communication channel
  • Staying sane with Slack

Tame Your Social Media - Triggers

  • Don't unfriend, just unfollow their posts.
    • Different Opinions
    • Jealousy
  • Don't read the comments
  • Don't take it personally.

Tame Your Social Media - Distractions

Physical Interruptions

Not everyone can get an office and shut the door. Protect yourself from the drive-by conversations.

  • Set expectations for those around you
  • Set a designated DnD time for your team.
  • Use a DnD sign.


Do Not Disturb Indicators

The Sign

Work from Home/Off Site

  • Should be treated as a privilege
  • Only if it's ok with your team
  • Only when necessary



Take Breaks

It's important to take short regular breaks to give your brain a rest. Get away from your desk.

  • Pomodoro Technique
  • Walk - focus on what you are stuck on or what you have accomplished
  • Walking Meetings - turn small meetings and 1 on 1s into walking meetings
  • Screenless Lunches - don't eat your lunch at your desk.
  • Meditate / Pray / Think

Swallow your pride and ask for help

You never know if something you are stuck on is actually really easy.


Get A Fidget Thing

Cube... Spinner.... it doesn't matter.

Don't say no, but don't say yes.

Saying "No" can leave a teammate hanging, but saying "Yes" disrupts your work.

  • Can you do it or do you know it?
  • Can it wait?
  • Can it go to someone else?
  • Don't become a super hero!

No good code is written after the 10th hour.

After Work

  • Depressurizing
  • Reflecting
  • Hobbies
  • Entertainment

On Your Way Out

Tidy up your workspace on the way out the door.

On The Road Home

  • Take the long way home
  • Avoid busy streets
  • Turn the radio off and think

Depressurize When You Get Home

Drop your bag and go sit undisturbed for 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Sit on your back porch and just listen
  • Think about what you accomplished during the day
  • Thorns & Roses for bad days
  • Unless your kids want to snuggle

Leave Work at Work

Many people struggle with fully disconnecting from work.

  • Disconnect your email from your phone
  • Save any emails as drafts instead of sending
  • Set expectations with boss and coworkers


Pick hobbies and projects that don't require a high level of effort or time commitment.

  • Keep your side projects as non-income side projects.
  • Freelance at your own risk. Don't buy into Ted's closet "startup"
  • Get outside.

Video Games

  • Cooperative over competitive
  • Swallow your pride play on easy and feel unstoppable.
  • Find creative games
  • Watch instead of play

Don't play Fifa with your friends

or Dark Souls... ever



  • Less Competitive Reality
  • Less News
  • Fewer Sports
  • More Laughs

Read for Fun

Set a goal to read a book about a new topic every other week.

Designated 'Me' Nights

  • No interruptions
  • No responsibilities
  • No excuses
  • Return the favor

Before Bed

Plan out tomorrow.

Turn the TV off.

Get Enough Sleep

Get Between 7 and 9 Hours

Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evenings


There are many different medications to help you get over that initial "bump" of dealing with anxiety, stress and depression.

This is not a "give up strategy." This is acknowledging you are not invincible.

Evaluate your situation

  • Would you be happier just coding as a hobby?
  • Does your company bring out the best in you?


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