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Ameh Elijah
Ameh Elijah

Posted on • Originally published at

How to handle or avoid burnout as a newbie developer

One interesting and funny thing about coding generally is its ability to keep you glued to your seat for hours. From experience, I can say coding is one of the most addictive things out there. The joy of seeing your code solves problems keeps you wanting to go more. At the same time, coding can be very frustrating when you’re not getting those desired results, and this frustration can contribute to burnout.

In this article, we will look at the different signs and causes of burnout among newbie developers and how they can be handled or avoided. Let's get started!

What's burnout?

According to Urban Dictionary, Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Burnout is something that attacks three key areas of one's well-being, that is the emotional, physical, and mental state of a person.

Burnout issues among newbie developers

Burnout is one of the core reasons why a majority of newbies drop out of the tech space in the early stage of their careers. And why most fall victim to burnout is solely because the tech ecosystem forgets to always point out its signs and causes. Because of this, newbies tend not to know early when they are experiencing it, which then leads to serious cases. The first step then to tackling this growing issue is to initially identify these signs and also the causes.

Causes of burnout

Burnout, just like any other problem, has its causes. Knowing this causes is one of the initial steps to avoiding it.

Let's take a look at a few of them:

  • Overworking: As mentioned in the introductory part of this article, coding is something that is addictive. It's easy for newbies enjoying it to be caught up in it and in that process overwork themselves without knowing.
  • Lack of clarity on a task: Looking through the definition of burnout, it's clear to note that mental exhaustion is one of the key effects of burnout. When a task is not clear enough there's a high chance of one overstressing to get clarity personally and this can lead to burnout.
  • The "Know-It-All" syndrome: Some people forget that no person can know it all, especially when it comes to the world of technology. There's always that person out there that knows it more than you do. It's important to avoid falling into the pit of knowing it all because it's a major contributor to burnout. A task of an hour can end up taking two days because one is not ready to ask for help.
  • Lack of social life: Many newbies tend to lose themselves in their work and forget that there's a life outside those screens. When they're a little stressed, they have little or no alternative to recovering faster from stress, and accumulated stress is a best friend to burnout.

Signs of burnout

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It has its signs and these signs appear during the early stage of burnout.

Some of these signs are:

  • Loss of interest in coding. As a developer that loves coding, it’s worth noting when there’s a loss of interest in coding.
  • Getting tired frequently and always. To be tired while working is normal, but when the tiredness persists after a good sleep and rest, there’s a possibility of burnout.
  • Feeling irritated and impatient with people. When this happens too often, it might be a sign of burnout.
  • Increased intake of drugs and alcohol to help cope while working.
  • Lack of concentration while working on tasks. A task that usually takes 1-2 hours starts taking days to finish.

It’s important to note that these signs can also be as a result of other factors. Although as a newbie, if you start noticing these signs, it’s advisable to pay attention to them. Also, all these signs do not need to be present at the same time for someone experiencing burnout.

How to avoid or handle burnout

Burnout can reduce one’s productivity and motivation. Knowing how to handle (if you unavoidably fall into it) or avoid it altogether is something newbies should know about early into their journey.

We will look at a few ways in which this can be achieved:

  • Taking breaks: The best way to increase your productivity and reduce the chances of burnout is to take important breaks as you work. For every hour of work, you can decide to step away from your working desk for 10-15 minutes(depending on you). Also, when you encounter bugs that won’t go away, learn to take a break. Coming back relaxed after the break might be just what you needed.
  • Ask questions: Always ask questions on tasks to get more clarity. No question is stupid if you don’t have an answer to it yourself. That senior developer was once a newbie, so in most cases, they know exactly what it means to be in your position. Also if it's more of a personal project problem, always reach out to the tech community you're in. I will also suggest and advise newbies to be in these communities.
  • Set boundaries: It’s important to clearly distinguish between working hours and personal hours. Avoid doing work-related things during personal hours, even simple things like checking work emails. Make use of personal hours for personal things. This will help you come back to work the next time with a relaxed mind.
  • Pursue hobbies and interests outside work: Coding can take a whole lot of your time, but finding interest outside work provides that platform to run to when the stress that tech life brings shows up. It’s always great to have that one thing that can keep the mind distracted from work. This is a game changer to avoiding burnout.
  • Seek support/help: Most of the points raised above closely deal with avoiding burnout, but one has to put into consideration scenarios when burnout happens despite attempts to avoid it. One way to handle it is to seek support from superiors/mentors/mental professionals. Most of these people have gone through these stages in their careers and getting advice from them might be the key to getting past it.


A lot of things can be overwhelming as a newbie developer and these things can affect the mental state of someone leading to burnout. It’s important to know how to handle or avoid burnout. The first step to doing this is by knowing the signs and causes and then knowing how to avoid these causes. This article has tried to cover a few points in this regard and if noted, there could be a starting point to avoiding burnout as a whole and focus on growth in the tech space.

Top comments (2)

grantdotdev profile image
Grant Riordan

Great article! Newbies I've found don't end up burnout but they often get frustrated due to not understanding something the first time round.

This article can also be useful for senior developers. Or any developer tbh as at all levels we can be guilty / susceptible to burnout especially as we take on more challenging roles and responsibilities.

amehelijah profile image
Ameh Elijah

Yes, you're right. Burnout is kind of a general thing. Thank you