Software developer burnout: How to identify and prevent burnout

Software development burnout is more common than you’d think. One study found that 83% of software developers suffer from workplace burnout, with the main reason being high workload. This is a staggering percentage that needs to be actively looked at by employers. Doing so will prevent an unproductive, or worse, non-existent workforce.

Most importantly, as software developers, we should take ownership of our own mental health and workload to ensure we are resilient to stress and can still perform under pressure.

This article will delve into why burnout is so common in software development. Also, the signs of burnout that can we look out for before it gets worse, and what we can do to prevent burnout.

Why is software developer burnout so common?

The tech industry is usually very fast-paced. Clients can sometimes have unrealistic expectations and it’s not uncommon for tech employees to work across multiple projects. Whatever the environment, burnout is not good for anyone. Here are some main reasons why software developer burnout is so common:


Sitting down for 8 hours a day wreaks havoc on your posture, and a bad posture can actually have a big effect on your stress levels. It shouldn’t be surprising that living a sedentary lifestyle whilst staring at a screen will weaken your joints, muscles, and eyes. This constant fatigue can fast-track ourselves to burnout.

High mental load

Being a software developer is an extremely mentally demanding job, there are endless complex problems to solve, which are often paired with tight deadlines. It can be tough to switch the brain off after a day of intense problem-solving in between calls and meetings. We need the ability to switch our brains off when required to prevent burnout.

Lack of social interaction

With remote work for software developers being quite popular, it’s not unheard of to go years on the job without ever putting a face to someone’s name. Not going into the office and interacting with colleagues can really affect some people. Some cope just fine but those who live by themselves may find this type of environment harder to deal with.

Lack of work-life balance

Some of us fail to realise that there is more to life than simply working. Spending all your energy on just work can turn you to hate your day-to-day and make you look forward to only the weekend, which is an awful way to live your life.

What is burnout

Burnout is a feeling of exhaustion from feeling consistently stressed and overwhelmed. Typically burnout is caused by someone’s job but it can be triggered by anything that causes excessive mental or physical stress. When life’s demands get too much and you fail to get adequate rest, you run a serious risk of burning yourself out.

Burnout can be caused by things such as taking on too much work, not receiving enough support from others, and pressure to complete work by the deadlines.

Signs of burnout

Look out for these signs of burnout;

  • Lack of motivation and enthusiasm
  • Struggling to perform well
  • Lack of energy or constantly tired

How to prevent burnout

It’s important to keep a close eye on your mental health if you suspect you are suffering from burnout. If you choose to ignore burnout it could develop into a mental breakdown.

Here are some useful ways we can prevent burnout from occurring.

Look after your body

Looking after your body is extremely important for stress resilience and preventing burnout. Some key body changes you can prioritise are;

  • Diet: Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid eating processed foods, and avoid excessive refined sugars. Ensure you get enough protein and fiber in your diet.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity is effective in reducing stress. It’s a great way to take your mind off work and to practice being present. Whether it’s aerobic exercise, strength training, or yoga, regular exercise will improve sleep and physical and cognitive health. All of which are vital for preventing burnout.
  • Posture: How you align your body throughout the day can have a noticeable impact on your stress levels. Reducing the wear and strain on your muscles on joints will put you in a healthier state to prevent burnout. Be conscious of how you sit, and stand. Aim to live with a tall spine.

Prioritise your mind

Make sure your mind gets regular and adequate rest. This should be an obvious thing for most people but some of us tend to fool ourselves into thinking working without rest is sustainable until it isn’t.

Practice mindfulness to give your brain the rest it needs. Doing so will quieten the mind and increase awareness. This awareness will also allow you to flag burnout signs earlier. Conventional mindfulness practices can include meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling. But really you can practice mindfulness with any activity, the key is to be present and aware, which some may do with a simple walk in the woods or gym. One interesting concept that involves small pieces of mindfulness throughout the day is mental aid stations.

Remind yourself of your purpose or goals to affirm why you are doing what you are doing. If it really aligns with what you want then this purpose will give you the drive you need, which helps prevent burnout.

Build daily habits and behaviours

We must build daily habits and behaviours that help integrate the activities that prioritise our mind and body. Building these as habits will help us remain consistent and see a much greater improvement in our quality of life over time. Daily habits that work for me are;

  • Breathing exercises
  • Cold showers / ice baths
  • Exercise / Stretching
  • Regular short breaks from work
  • Posture resets throughout the day


Your environment can have a huge impact on your stress levels. As a software developer, the culture of stress varies across companies and projects. For some company cultures, it may be normal to be stressed, others may prioritise mental health and work-life balance. If you’re unhappy in your current position, look for a better alternative. A better alternative means something that makes you happier in alignment with your goals. Whether it’s earning more money, working on specific passion, or spending more time with family, what’s better is completely subjective.

If you’re looking for a new tech company to join, check out UK’s Best Workplaces in Tech which ranks the best tech companies to work for across various organisation sizes.





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