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. Well, this exactly happened with me and programming. Learning to code over 2 years ago, I thought my relationship with code was great. In that short 1 year span that I did code, it was my #1 priority, making a stark imbalance in my life. This imbalance led me to not write another line of code for 2 years, until recently. After a long break, I feel the urge to come back into coding, and rekindle my passion that I used to love. In this article, I will go over the most important things that I kept in mind over this journey of relearning and rediscovering. I hope these help you too :)
To make sure that you will have a healthy relationship with code, you need to make sure that you are coming back from burnout for yourself, and your needs. If you are doing it for other people, or purely for the sake of getting a job, for example, it will be much harder to devote time and effort into coding consistently. This would lead to another burnout, which is the main thing we are trying to avoid! In my case, I felt that I had extra time in my life, that I wanted to dedicate to a hobby. Since programming is something I used to love, I wanted to try it again, as in combination with me finding it very interesting and worthwhile, it is a practical skill for the future. In summary, make sure that you are coming back from burnout for you, and what you want to do. This will keep you motivated and interesting in coding.
Learning to code, and relearning to code is no different, you need to make a plan! To make sure you aren't all over the place, scrambling to learn every technology that you knew previously, you need to assemble a plan. Something very common with burnout is feeling overwhelmed with all the things you need to do to get back to where you were prior. To prevent this feeling, you need to take it one step at a time, to make your foundations strong but also to maintain that healthy relationship. In my case, for the past few weeks, I've just been relearning Python, the first programming language I learned. Since Python is easy to learn, I thought it would be a logical starting point for me. Although my main programming language was Rust, I felt like that would be a harder starting point, leading to more roadblocks and possibly being overwhelmed. Before you start getting into coding again, outline the languages/concepts/frameworks you want to relearn, and the resources that you will use. This will keep you on track, but also prevent you from being overwhelmed as you have a clear plan to get back to where you were before. Furthermore, it's rewarding to tick off the tasks that you have completed, giving yourself more motivation to continue.
In my journey of returning to coding, I have been learning by doing. I started off super basic, wanting to make a command-line contact book in Python. I outlined the different things that I would need to do in order to complete this project, and just went into it, attempting to rekindle my knowledge along the way. If you don't know how to do something, AI and documentation is your friend! This made the process of relearning the nitty-gritty of Python more fun and enjoyable for me. Joining communities is another amazing way to make the experience fun. There is a great community here on DEV, and writing blog posts, about your experiences for example, will help you 1) stay accountable to your relearning process, but also 2) engage with the community by asking for questions or just sharing how you have been recovering from burn out. Find a supportive community that will lift you up, and be there if you have any questions or concerns.
In order to ensure that you don't get burned out again, you need to take breaks. Maintaining a healthy relationship with code relies on the fact that you have other things to turn too when you get stumped or just need a break. For me, I enjoy physical exercise/sports and spending time with family and friends. These activities take my mind off coding, and allow me to take a break. Finding what works for you is crucial to maintaining that healthy relationship. Here are some ideas of activities you can do to get your mind off coding: physical exercise, spending time with friends/family, meditation, reading, art, music, etc.
For me, this is the most important point to ensure that your relationship with code stays healthy. You need to check in once in a while, to see if your life is balanced and your relationship with code is healthy. Whether this be scheduled breaks or just reflecting on your mental health, taking some time to think about how you can prevent burnout and just enjoy coding is crucial. Two years ago, when I was doing an immense amount of coding, everything seemed perfect, as I flew from language to language, framework to framework. It is not until I was suddenly hit by burnout that I realized that this obsessive learning was unhealthy for me. If I took a pause ever so often in my learning journey, it would've allowed me to prevent burnout and have a healthy relationship with coding.
To conclude, make sure you keep these five points in mind when coming back from a burnout. Reflection and keeping one's relationship with code healthy is something we oftentimes take for granted. That is why it is essential to check in once in a while, stay streamlined, and always have fun. Good luck to all of you coming back from burnout, it's always hard! You can always reach out to me, email@example.com, for any questions. Thanks for reading.