Hello, readers! May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and so I’m going to be a little bit more serious than usual: today’s blog post is about prioritizing one’s mental health, and how I have done so over the past year and a half. I briefly mentioned that I started going to therapy sessions in my 2021 recap post, but I wanted to dedicate a post specifically to this topic.
My health realization #1: I should have started therapy years ago!
Regularly talking to a therapist for the past year and a half has greatly decreased my stress levels, improved my work/life balance, and positively impacted my overall mental health. I developed bad working habits early in my career that have been hard to break — first and foremost, I just simply work too many hours out of fear that I’m not contributing enough to justify my salary. I struggle with perfectionism. However, I’ve improved my relationship with my work by setting better boundaries, and I’ve also focused on improving other areas of my life — like making sure I stay on a consistent sleep schedule.
Some of the things I’ve done to break my bad habits:
- I rarely work in the evenings now
- I keep my work laptop and phone in my office (something I’ve done for a long time, but continue to do)
- I block out my calendar in the afternoons in order to have more focused time
- I decline more meetings that don’t have agendas or don’t fit into my typical working hours
- I try to go to sleep around the same time every night, and try my hardest to get at least 7 hours of sleep
I had the opportunity to give a quick talk at an internal company event in 2021 where we were asked to present a personal topic of our choice, and I chose to talk about running.
Why running, you ask? I’ve been running since I was in 8th grade, so by some measurements, I’m more qualified to talk about running than I am about software development!
The slides from the presentation are included below, but continue reading on to discover the parallels between training for a running goal and building a new product or feature.
Software Development & Running Slides
Running: (Almost) Anyone Can Do It
The great thing about running or walking is that almost anybody can do it regardless of their fitness level, so long as they have decent shoes and sweat-wicking attire. I know the word “running” can evoke a negative reaction from many folks, but how far and how fast one can run doesn’t matter; in fact, walking is a fantastic form of exercise, too. Many walkers and hikers participate in races; most running events have a walking option.
Successfully starting and maintaining a running ritual hinges on proper goals, planning, and training. With the right combination of all three, running can be fun and provide amazing physical and mental health benefits.
I’ve been working remotely in various forms for over seven years and even I have felt 2020 to be particularly difficult. It’s not easy to stay productive and focused when there’s a worldwide pandemic! I first wrote several tips way back in 2014 (Working Remotely: I Do It, & So Can You!), and now I’d like to offer a follow-up post of additional advice that I have learned over the past few years.
One of my tips from that blog post centered around finding a coworking space. With most coworking spaces temporarily closed, and many coffee shops offering takeout only and no dine-in, options for working outside of the home are limited and not recommended. However, staying in the house 24/7 is not ideal either, as long as you take the appropriate precautions to keep you and others around you safe. Here are a few alternative suggestions to break up your workday:
- Get outside at least once a day! “Commute” to work with a walk around the block, or get in a bit of exercise with your activity of choice. This is probably the easiest and safest thing you can do to simulate getting ready for the day. You can even go for a walk at the end of the day before transitioning into leisure/family time as well.
- If possible, turn one of your walks into a coffee adventure and support your local coffee shops and cafes. While my morning meeting schedule can sometimes be too crammed together to do this as often as I’d like, I enjoy going to one of my local coffee spots at least once every week or two to pick up a cup of caffeine to take back to my home office.
This is going to be an incredibly impromptu post, but one I felt I had to write.
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide. Same-sex couples can now get married anywhere in the country, and that marriage is recognized in every state.
This is monumental. While I live in a state that has “allowed” same-sex marriage for years (a term I hate using because it’s absurd that it had to have the stamp of approval in the first place), it is certainly uplifting to see the entire United States covered in a rainbow.
As somebody living right in the center of Seattle, surrounded by high-rise office buildings, various apartment complexes, hundreds of restaurant establishments, and just as many retail shopping stores, it’s sometimes hard to fathom that millions of people in the United States go hungry every single day. Washington is the 22nd hungriest state in the nation, with 14.3% of the state’s inhabitants not having constant and reliable access to food.
The Northwest Harvest is a 501(c)(3) based in Seattle, Washington. Besides providing food for over more than 370 partner programs, they operate the Cherry Street Food Bank in downtown Seattle. Cherry Street is one of the busiest food banks in the state, and provides nearly 1.5 million meals every year to anybody who walks through the door.