• Hackdays

Mental Health in a hackathon

Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the worst online hackathon - what do you see? Let us guess, maybe you are drinking too much coffee per day, having pizzas for life, generating no ideas in a long team call, or stressing out toward the submission deadline? The negative aspect of a hackathon sounds scary and stressful…BUT in fact, it all depends on your mental awareness. So, if you know how to take care of your mental health, those bad experiences will not happen to you!

Let us start from the beginning, what does mental health mean exactly?

Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feels, acts.

All over the world, there are 450 million people currently suffering from a mental disorder. In other words, roughly 1 in 4 people are dealing with a mental health issue or neurological disorder during their lifespan. This is such an alarming number, waking up people from mental health negligence.

With a negative mental state, you will suffer:

  • Mental pain that is like real physical brain pain

  • High risk of dementia

  • High risk of heart disease

  • The decrease in life expectancy

  • Sleeping disorders

With a positive mental state, you will be able to

  • Realize your full potential

  • Cope with the stresses of life

  • Work productively

  • Make meaningful contributions to your team

Understanding the importance of maintaining strong mental wellbeing in a hackathon, we have some tips to help you avoid stressful situations and get the most out of a hackathon.

Let no one stop you from caring for your mental health!

1. Fresh air

Most of the hackathons are taking place over a weekend for 48 hours. However, we never expect our participants to spend the whole time on hacking inside. That is too stressful for an event, going against the goal of a good work-life balance. Moreover, Covid-19 has become an unescapable circumstance that changed our way of working. Virtual hackathons feel like a new reality now.

But spending too much time ‘’inside’’ and in front of the screen is not at all healthy for our mental well-being. Many scientific papers have pointed out that the more time we spend in close quarters indoors with other people, the more exposure we have to germs and the more likely we fall sick.

Our first tip for you is as simple as taking a break during the hackathon to go outside and have a deep breath.

2. Sleeping

Secondly, sleeping is important to several brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other. Recent findings suggest that sleep plays a housekeeping role in removing toxins in your brain that have built up during the day. As such, sleep quantity and quality play a major role in maintaining a healthy brain. So, if you want to stay creative during the day, remember to

✔Have 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night
✔Do some exercises during the day to increase sleep quality at night.

3. Healthy diet

Sometimes, participants are too much into the event that they forget to keep a healthy diet. This can be harmful to the body since foods and drinks are important not only for physical health but also for mental health. Particularly, lacking nutrients can lead to malfunction and inflexibility of your brain. So, if you feel distressed in the middle of the hackathon,

why not take a break and grab some nutrients for the brain?

Besides, coffee is good for staying awake but, … remember that the caffeine will make you even more nervous and stressful.

4. Keep calm through deadlines and pitches

To avoid a ticking clock right before the final submission, you and your team should keep lots of reminders so that the deadline doesn’t come as a surprise.

On top of that, demos and pitches can be stressful, so remember to have fun during recording the pitches. Reaching out to teammates and focusing on creative and fun ideas is the secret formula to win a hackathon.

Now, try to keep your mind positive and imagine yourself again in the best online hackathon, what do you see? Enjoying lots of communications, learning new skills, making new friends, experiences, and connections, …

Finally: remember to take control of your life and make it worthwhile by getting out of stressfulness.

About the author:

This article was written by Anh Nguyen.

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