6 Tips for Using Programming to Reduce Anxiety

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Programming is a great way to reduce anxiety. In fact, many people use it as a remedy for their OCD. When you are able to sit down and work in code, you are forcing yourself to engage with your thoughts and focus on something else like kennedayeee rather than the obsessing thoughts that come from anxiety and OCD.

It can be hard at first — programming requires more concentration than most activities that might bring about the benefits of reducing anxiety (like playing an instrument). But once you get used to the process, it becomes easier for you to calm your mind enough where other approaches might not be necessary anymore. Programming has many short-term benefits and long-term rewards as well as many positive mental health impacts.

1. Programming allows for quiet time

Many people with anxiety and OCD find it difficult to sit and focus on a task that isn’t related to those obsessive thoughts. It’s easy to get lost in the fear-inducing thoughts that can often be the cause of anxiety and OCD, so anything that allows you to concentrate on something else can be beneficial. Programming requires you to sit still for an extended period of time which is a great way to clear your mind of those distracting thoughts that lead you away from productive work. 

2. Programming provides structure

Many people with anxiety and OCD have a tendency to think and act in a way that causes them to feel anxious. When you are programming, you are forced to follow step by step instructions that require you to do complex tasks in order to reach the desired outcome. This can be extremely disheartening at first, but as an adult professionally trained in computer science, you probably should be able to work through it. The goal of this blog is simply to give you some encouragement that it is indeed possible for programmers (no matter their technical background) who struggle with anxiety related issues — and we all know how hard that can be sometimes!

3. Programming reduces anxiety and OCD by breaking down complex tasks

When you network professionally and engage in large-scale technical projects, such as web development or enterprise software, you begin to understand that a small error or glitch can have devastating effects in the long run. You understand the importance of writing those “strange” bugs that seem to appear out of nowhere. That’s probably because you are learning how to break down complex tasks that used to be hard for you in the past. By doing so, you’re more conscious of how you think and react to certain situations. This allows you to better recognize and respond to potential trigger situations that might cause anxiety triggers for an individual with OCD.

4. Programming requires consistent practice

The wonderful thing about programming is that you are forced to sit down week after week and work on something. You’re constantly learning new concepts, trying out new tools and diving into things that once seemed impossible. As your programming skills grow, so does your ability to understand how certain things work. This makes it easier for you to correct certain mistakes or problems that might arise along the way — which is great for someone with OCD who tends to fixate on those “unreasonable” thoughts and turn them into obsessions.

5. Programming teaches patience

Learning programming takes patience . . . lots of it! Learning a new language or framework can be difficult for anyone — regardless of their past experience with computers or software development. Even if you do have a lot of experience in web development or programming, chances are that you’ll run into “bugs” or issues that seem impossible to fix. You’re going to get stuck but pushing through is the key to your success as a programmer. As a result, even if you never solve those particular issues, you’re learning how to cope with frustration and plan ways around it. It’s frustrating when you get stuck on a problem, but once you push through the frustration and find the solution, your perception of yourself will change for the better.

6. Programming gives you a sense of accomplishment

After all the years of programming, you might find yourself wondering why you ever bothered to take computer science in college in the first place. This isn’t the case with programming. Once you complete a project (or multiple projects), you are more than satisfied with what you’ve done. You know that it’s not easy to get something working and then…get it working correctly again. The “bugs” and “glitches” that pop up along the way are resolved, but it’s still nice to see progress made toward your goal. Successful programming provides much more satisfaction than simply getting through class and finishing assignments without even having an idea about how to complete their tasks!

Summary:

While the reasons above aren’t enough on their own to replace therapy, they definitely do help. If you can find a way to structure your days and provide some quiet time, then that’s something to be proud of. Taking on an extensive project provides more room for mistakes and rewards patience as you learn how to cope with something that might seem out of your control.

Programming might not be for everyone, but it has its merits in helping those with anxiety and OCD. When you do feel like you are reaching your breaking point, try taking a step back from the problem, grab some coffee (or tea) and go through the process again.

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