Friday, August 5, 2016

Software Dairies

Mahesh is my colleague working in IT industry for past 15 years. He usually spends 15 hours a day at work. He is professionally successful, Got promoted fast and he gets a hefty pay check. However, Recently he was diagnosed with diabetes. He is only in his mid-30s. 

Today I want to talk about a problem that is more frequent in IT world. Work induced health issues for IT professionals.

Software industry boomed during 90's. Many people got benefitted economically. Most of us earn more than what our parents used to get and we Live a comfortable life. However, we are paying a price for the life we live now. We are doing stressful mental work sitting in front of the computer day after day.

Demanding work and work schedules are putting health of software professionals in danger.
According to a research conducted on IT professionals in major cities, some of the top reasons are

Long working hours, Prolonged sitting, Interacting with visual display units and Lack of exercise.

We are in a competitive industry. We work hard to get the next raise or promotion. Average IT professional works between 10-13 hours a day including the after night work trying to catch up with counterparts across the globe. 

Our jobs are white collar jobs. It requires us to sit in front of computer all day. Productivity scientists say "sitting is the new smoking" and it is not good for our body.

Interacting with Visual display units: On average, we spend between 8-10 hours a day in front of a computer, TV or mobile phone. This is a lot of stress on our eyes and drains our energy. In the study, astounding 70% of IT professionals complained on eye related issues.

Lack of adequate exercise makes us inactive and less energetic. 

All these factors are causing strain on personal lives, Sleep disorders and sometimes even leading to depression. 

What can we do to combat the stress. The coping mechanisms suggested by experts are surprisingly simple.

Sleep, exercise, diet and taking breaks.

Sleep: Our body works when we sleep. With enough sleep, we get recharged and will be ready for a next day. On average, we need 6 to 7 hours sleep every day.

Exercise keeps our body active, improves metabolism, and removes toxins from our body.

Diet is the most important aspect in the list. Many fitness experts suggest that diet contributes 80% to health compared to 20% of the effects from exercise. I like one of the quotes from a trainer "We are what we eat".

Finally, taking breaks is important. It applies to both daily breaks as well as yearly break from work.
Some scientific studies suggest it is not recommended to sit for more than 90 minutes at a stretch.
In longer term, taking a break from work and spending time with family and friends helps us rejuvenate and refresh both mentally and physically.

Some of these aspects are practical such as taking breaks and sleeping where as others like exercise and diet take discipline to achieve a balance. For example, Getting up early everyday so that you have that additional time for exercise, eating simple food like salads takes lot of self-control and discipline.

My colleague who was diagnosed with diabetes now lives a controlled life with mandated daily sleep, walk everyday and a strict diet. We need not wait for greatest catastrophes of life to strike us to make the change or makes things better. Small changes in life style will have a great impact on the quality of life we live and can handle the stress and health issues our jobs can induce on us.