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Erin Bensinger for The DEV Team

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#DEVDiscuss: Recovering From Burnout

image created by Margaux Peltat for the Chilled Cow YouTube channel

Time for #DEVDiscuss โ€” right here on DEV ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Inspired by @hb's Top 7 post, tonightโ€™s topic is...recovering from burnout ๐Ÿ˜ฎโ€๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Burnout is tough. When you are burnt out from something, you resent it, and don't want touch it again. This unhealthy relationship with that thing only decreases your productivity and your mental health.


  • Have you ever experienced burnout in your coding career?
  • If so, how did you recover?
  • If not, how have you kept yourself protected from burnout?
  • Any triumphs, fails, or other stories you'd like to share on this topic?

Top comments (7)

erinposting profile image
Erin Bensinger

A person looking shocked and amazed with a wide open mouth, and then clapping.

theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring

Have you ever experienced burnout in your coding career?

Yes, I experienced burnout in 2020 during the lockdown phase of the pandemic. The lockdown phase destroyed my balanced routine that I had cobbled together to counter the high-stress environment I was working in as an individual contributor.

If so, how did you recover?

I quit my job... kinda.

I gave notice that I intended to leave w/o having another job in place due to the stress. 2 days later, my company's Director of Infrastructure gave notice as he was moving onto another role, and I decided to pitch to our CTO that I take that role. My sales pitch worked and I moved away from individual contributor responsibilities.

It probably took me 6-12 months before I had my coding ambitions back.

Any triumphs, fails, or other stories you'd like to share on this topic?

Listen to your body - it tells you when you're overworking. I didn't listen to it for 3 years and it eventually blew up in my face.

brense profile image
Rense Bakker

What I struggle with the most is hiding my burnout from others. Its very hard for people who don't know you very well, to understand that when you're unwilling to commit to some new experiment, it doesn't mean you don't like to experiment, or that you don't normally get excited over trying new things. Your options are: not doing the thing and disappointing people, or doing the thing unmotivated and disappointing yourself. You can try explaining the situation, but in my experience it will just lead to people thinking you're weak. Even if they show sympathy and try to be supportive. Down the line you notice they start to keep things from you and that you're not really a full member of the team anymore, which just makes the burnout even worse...

fluffy profile image

I've been burned out since 2011, when I experienced the loss of several loved ones in a fairly short period of time combining with developing a debilitating chronic pain disability, and it made me start to realize just how futile and useless a career in tech was. I started to prioritize my non-career happiness over my career, and while that helped me overall, it hasn't helped me want to actually be a productive engineer again.

I still enjoy programming but I don't give a crap about any of the programming jobs that are out there, especially when we're in yet another fad chasing cycle (previously it was blockchain/web3, now it's AI), and the entire software industry has changed in a way that prioritizes things that I find absolutely no joy in. See my recent rant about tech recruiting, or my essay from when I quit my most recent tech job a year ago.

I do not have any solutions right now, aside from "find literally anything else to do with my life." Unfortunately I'm at a stage in my life where I seem to have been typecast as an individual-contributor software engineer and nobody wants to consider me for anything else, because that's all that I have on my resume.

I'm trying to work on my own things and see if my creative output can become a sustainable form of income, and in the meantime I'm fortunate to have sufficient investment income to cover my basic living expenses. But it's not a satisfying lifestyle.

theoriginalbpc profile image
Sarah Dye • Edited

Yes. Multiple times. Especially in 2020. After 2018, I was pushing myself really hard and by 2020 I was almost burned out completely. Getting covid at the end of 2020 was my wake up call that I was ready to burn out.

Once I recovered from covid, I started setting aside to take breaks for myself. I started setting boundaries for myself. This meant me saying no to lots of things and watching what work I was taking on.

The best protection I have is learning about myself and doing lots of self reflections. This gave me a lot of information about what I do when I'm about to burn out and what led me to burn out in the first place. Knowing these signs has empowered me so when I start seeing these signs I know it is time to stop and take a break.

iosonoagenda profile image
Ettore Ongaro

I had a bornout 8 years ago. Since that day I am in psychology cure and now I am ok. Without job already but stabile.