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Written by Krystal Kaplan on November 28, 2017
Self-care is a topic near and dear to my heart. I read books on how to tidy my sock drawer, preach about mental health care, buy veggies and fruit for juice cleanses, tell my students to take a break from the screen. And I tell myself, "Just one more email to answer before I go to bed." Yet when it comes to actually implementing some new habits, I sometimes fall short: I’ll just start mañana...
During Thanksgiving break, I had no choice but to be screen-free (mom lives 4 hours upstate). My eyes rested. I slept all night without checking and responding to Slack messages or thinking of activities, strategies, mantras to help my students overcome imposter syndrome and accomplish their goals.
I was forced to take a break from the screen and NYC’s lightning energy. I actually had conversations that lasted more than 3 minutes with my family! Like in-person, real life, text and giphy-free conversations that weren’t interrupted because “My train just pulled in the station, gotta go!"
I know devs and designers sometimes get sucked into the "matrix." From my perspective, it's great to see how passionate (and crazy) you are about code. But your posture gets worse, your eyes are red and stinging, you argue over tabs versus spaces. And worst of all, your friends and family are mad at you because they never see you. Maybe you gained a little weight and have dark circles under your eyes. Maybe you haven’t done laundry in 5 weeks since you started bootcamp or a new job. ;)
Coding reminds me of yoga. It's a practice no matter how many weeks or years you've been at it. Listen to the ways senior devs and designers talk about their process. It's almost zen-like. You're constantly learning, failing and getting better. The difference is that with coding you do need to take a break because at a certain point your brain stops. You're not learning or practicing any skills.
As a programmer or designer you need to find what coping method(s) helps you take a break from the screen. Is it setting a timer? Reading a book on your hour-long commute home? Taking a walk during lunch? Talking with your peers? Doing Screen-free Saturdays? Spending time with your family and friends, or better yet, introducing them to your classmates?
Check out selfcare.tech for more tips!
Bilingual in English and Spanish, Krystal has extensive experience in overseeing workforce and education programs empowering individuals in under-resourced communities. She has taught English as a Second Language encouraging her students to dabble in web design. She has created curricula related to job readiness, financial literacy and mentoring. Prior to teaching, she established partnerships with Fortune 500 companies matching workers’ skills to needs in the community. Krystal serves as Events Chair for the Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University and sits on the Advisory Board for Global Language Project. Outside of her professional and philanthropic life, you might find her hitting up a new hole in the wall restaurant, traveling abroad or tearing it up on the salsa floor.