Security Think Tank: Create healthy habits to avoid burnout

Published 14 - May - 2020
computer weekly
Source: Computer Weekly
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Cyber criminals are enjoying a boom during the Covid-19 pandemic, and security teams are working overtime as a result. How can security professionals manage their increased workload, safeguard their mental well-being and avoid burnout? By Dan Norman, Research Analyst, ISF.

Security professionals have highly stressful and demanding jobs; they frequently have to manage critical security incidents and work overtime to stay on top of a range of cyber threats. The Covid-19 era has compounded this stress tenfold – individuals are expected to perform their role remotely with less time and tools at their disposal, with many required to juggle parenting and teaching all under one roof. This amalgamation of stress and workload will significantly affect mental well-being, possibly resulting in burnout.

To stay on top of this threat and perform at the highest level, security professionals should consider the following scientific-backed solutions for improving physical and mental well-being:

Reduce cognitive fatigue by managing time more wisely

Mental ups and downs are a natural part of human behaviour. However, the feeling of being perpetually overwhelmed by work will have a significant negative impact on the level of dopamine in the brain – the neurochemical responsible for regulating motivation, concentration levels, problem-solving skills and physical motor function.

In a role where these attributes are critical for effectively managing security incidents, security professionals must re-assess how to effectively manage their time in the context of home working, where it is very easy to work constantly without breaks or social interaction. They should pinpoint the exact source of their stress and discuss outsourcing or delegating tasks to others, while managing their day more wisely, for example, by strictly setting boundaries and separating working hours from personal hours.

Celebrate success throughout the working day

During lockdown, minimal physical human interaction can have a significant effect on levels of oxytocin in the brain – the neurochemical responsible for feelings of empathy, social bonding and affection.

Security professionals should consider breaking down big goals into manageable tasks and celebrate their successes more frequently with the wider team, for example, by sending a “well done” email to their team or eating a favourite chocolate bar. This celebration will fire a constant flow of dopamine to the brain throughout the day, reinforcing the positive feeling of success and heightening levels of oxytocin, which will improve working relationships and build togetherness.