Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez
We all know how it feels to have a long, stressful day at work. After sitting in front of a computer for hours, staring at code on a screen, or attending back-to-back meetings in faraway places, the last thing you probably want to do is come home and use even more technology, even if it is to relax.
However, there are some great ways to take advantage of technology to unwind after a stressful day, from streaming music to meditation apps can help to calm your mind and ease anxiety, and this is thanks to the rise of the “self-care” movement and increasing awareness of the critical importance of mental health in the workplace, where the plague of burnout and social anxiety has made more difficult for many developers to keep a healthy relationship with themselves.
However, when people think about self-care, they often think of things like taking a bubble bath or going for a massage, but this is far from the truth. Self-care is an important tool for software developers, who do an activity that can have a physical toll (is well known how sitting in front of a computer for long hours can lead to eye strain, back pain, and even carpal tunnel syndrome, for example), as well as a mental weight thanks to the continuous challenge of solving technological puzzles under constraints almost every day.
And today, this is the raison d’être behind the rise of a new field of software development currently known as “soft tech”; the idea of creating applications, interfaces, and programs whose purpose is helping us take care of ourselves, especially during those short windows that sometimes appear during a stressful day (or week, or month). The essay “Radical Softness” by Kat Brewster, from the boutique videogame magazine A Profound Waste of Time, explains it best:
“To be radically soft in the digital age is not simply to recognize caring for one’s self as potentially a radical act, but also to recognize the unique strengths, limits, and realities of soft things. The radicalization of organic, messy, squishy, real-world bodies through creative technologies”.
“Soft tech” has been gaining traction during the last decade, and that shot up in importance since the COVID pandemic began in 2020, helping people to get through the isolation and anxiety that those circumstances brought in. In short, what “soft tech” wants to accomplish is using technology to create self-care tools to relax and regain a lost balance, a few minutes at a time. And when it comes to software development of every kind, whose demand skyrocketed during the pandemic, creating unending deadlines to meet and problems to solve, these kinds of applications can be a great resource to take care of oneself.
The best “soft tech” applications you can get
It seems like everywhere you look these days, a new app or software tool is promising to help you take better care of yourself. And it’s no wonder that this is becoming such a popular topic, especially with so many people moving towards working remotely, which can be isolating depending on your set-up. When you’re not surrounded by colleagues and are just working all the time, it can be easy to let your health and well-being fall by the wayside, but with soft tech apps, you can stay on track and make sure you’re taking care of your mental health.
Many of these apps even offer helpful tips and articles on everything, from reducing stress to eating better, and with so many people now working remotely, it’s easier than ever to find an app that fits your needs and lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for help with meditation, fitness, or diet, there’s sure to be an app that can help you out, so we compiled some recommendations from our team on the best ones you can get right now:
If you’re looking for a meditation app that will help you relax and de-stress, then you should check out Headspace. This app is extremely user-friendly, and it has a ton of great features; you can choose from a variety of different guided meditations, and some helpful animations that explain the concepts behind this practice. In addition, the app keeps track of your progress, so you can see how your meditation practice is improving over time. “I’ve been using Headspace for a while now, and I can feel a notable difference”, says Denisse Morelos, Marketing Executive at Scio. “With just ten minutes spent on it, my day can always get better.”
This is a simulation game with a pretty simple concept: the app procedurally generates a digital mountain, with its own geography and climate, and you watch it evolve through simulated time (hours, days, years). It sometimes generates some insights to share, but that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t have controls, or anything else; it’s about stopping and enjoying the passage of time, a pretty calm, and even meditative, experience.
Depending on the type of person you are, you might find gardening either very stressful or one of the most rewarding pastimes you can have. If you are one of the latter, Viridi was made for you. Similar to Mountain, this game lets you watch the growth of a digital object (in this case, a succulent plant), giving you the task of watering and taking proper care of it, accompanied by nice, soft visuals and a relaxing atmosphere with nothing pressing on you.
Throw cubes into brick towers to collapse them
Yes, the title tells you everything you need to know: a “sandbox” game where you can generate block towers (choosing everything from the shape of the bricks to the configuration of the tower, to even the parameters of the physics), and you just topple it down throwing cubes, selecting their size and mass, or even dynamite, if you want something messier. It’s basically a digital Jenga tower that you can collapse over and over, so just put some of your favorite music as background and unwind after a stressful day. “Toppling down writer’s block is more literal than you might think”, says Sergio Martinez, Content Manager at Scio.
An application for every need
“Technology doesn’t need to be this hard-edged dark thing. It can be something that embraces your body, where the interfaces are designed around you, where the colors are warm and gentle, and promote health and well-being. And that’s really different from the attitude a lot of people had in the 90s, which was ‘Jack me in the Matrix and get rid of my physical body”, indicates the aforementioned “Radical Softness” essay.
We know that, as a software developer, a lot of your time is spent sitting in front of a computer screen. And while you might be used to working long hours, it’s important to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself both mentally and physically. That’s why learning some basic self-care techniques can be so important; things like getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and exercising regularly can help improve your focus and concentration and reduce your stress levels, and something as simple as an application on your phone can make the difference in your day.
It’s no secret that the workplace can be stressful. But by taking a few to focus on your wellbeing, you can increase your productivity, improve your mood, and reduce your anxiety levels. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, be sure to download a self-care app and give yourself the break you deserve.
The Key Takeaways
- Self-care is not bubble baths and having your favorite tea; it’s a discipline where you take proper maintenance of your physical and mental health, keeping a proper balance in your life.
- In software development, which saw demand skyrocket during the pandemic, taking proper care of yourself is becoming more important than ever to keep performing as well as you can.
- This resulted in the rise of “soft tech”, applications meant to help you reach a state of relaxation through meditation guidelines, or simply engaging, low-stake activities designed to bring mindfulness a few minutes at a time.
Scio is a Nearshore software development company based in Mexico where we believe that everyone deserves everyone should have the opportunity to work in an environment where they feel like a part of something. A place to excel and unlock their full potential which is the best approach to create a better world. We have been collaborating with US-based clients since 2003, solving challenging programming puzzles, and in the process showcasing the skills of Latin American Engineers. Want to be part of Scio? Get in contact today!