This is my second post out of a three part series regarding attitudes and approaches to healthily get through a coding bootcamp. Aside from learning to temper my hyper-focus on competition, I’ve also learned that self care is not something to ignore or avoid.
Self Care is mandatory
Pace, balance, rest, and understanding… all of these things contribute to the concept of self care. Think of someone who you care deeply about; for me it would be my future son or daughter. Now, take a look at the way you run your life and the way you treat yourself. Would you want that for them? Would I want my daughter to work an average of 12 hours a day on code and then feel afterwards like she was a total failure and not good enough? Of course not. Sometimes when we step out of our shoes, we can see the absurdity of the expectations we hold for ourselves. Not only is it absurd, but it is not sustainable to ignore other facets of life that make things meaningful. Each one of us is valuable and worthy of self care.
I got super into the flow of coding during the bootcamp, and in the moment I was like, “I’m not gonna stop until I have everything working!” It was an addictive flow. However, day after day of doing this, I started having focusing and memory problems. I also couldn’t sleep properly because my mind was literally still trying to code in a half dream state. It got to the point where I was forgetting to eat, drink, and get up to go to the bathroom. I started to feel mildly insane.
Then I realized that I was essentially marathoning. In an actual marathon, you run just over 26 miles. Even if you love coding, even if you love running, no one is going to thrive if they keep working at maximum capacity. I felt guilty initially when I took breaks, like “oh I could be learning more about enumerables right now instead of laying in bed”, but then I had an attitude shift to, “I feel guilty about not taking care of myself properly.” Would you feel badly towards someone who just ran a marathon and they’re asking for a break?
This brings in the concept of pacing. It is easier on the body to run a few miles per day rather than doing it all in one session. Same with the brain. Even though I have the capacity to marathon the project, that’s probably not what I should do. Eventually, I discovered what works best for me: I code 9am-12 noon. Take a yoga and lunch break. Then 1-5pm do more code. Afterwards, I play board games with friends, work on art, and exercise outside (and sometimes splurge on Netflix or Youtube). When I pace it out, it is absolutely amazing how my mind feels so much better. More focus, less stress and it's easier to go to sleep. And just as importantly, my life is more full of all the things I love; I’m not missing out on them.
What do you think about self care and pacing? What works for you? Feel free to comment below!
Read Part 1