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Industry Observations

Battling Burnout During Stress Awareness Day

Each November, National Stress Awareness Day is recognized on the first Wednesday of the month and aims to identify and reduce the stress factors in your life.

Everyone has stress, and some level of stress is good for us. It helps us to respond to changes in life, serving as our body’s way of protecting itself from sudden harm. However, too much stress can negatively impact our health, relationships and even our productivity at work.

Unfortunately, stress in the technology industry is particularly prevalent, and with it comes many negative consequences. When employees are burnt out and lagging in their performance, lapses in security and missed deadlines are commonplace, while new and innovative ideas fall by the wayside and are rarely brought to the table.

Battling burnout

As global cybercrime continues to grow, the demand is outpacing the supply of security professionals who can help combat the ever-increasing threats. Shortage in security means organizations are operating understaffed, and team members don’t have the time to train for advanced skills like security analytics. Experienced team members then have to pick up the slack, adding to job fatigue and stress.

Many security professionals desire to have a real impact on the world, which makes them become emotionally invested in their jobs, contributing even more to stress. As a result, burnout is a real phenomenon in security and software development.

The first step to combating burnout is to identify that it is happening. Second, be sure to create a culture of individual well-being and self-care. Provide resilience training resources and workshops that will give team members the necessary tools to better handle everyday stressors. And finally, build a team that collaborates well together.

Three strategies to help achieve a work-life balance

  1. Food, Exercise, Rest and New Hobbies – Carve out times in the day to nourish the body, as well as the brain, with exercise, enough sleep and a healthy diet. It’s unrealistic to be productive throughout the day without dedicating time to resting and eating well.
    Exercise helps lower blood pressure, which can be an indicator of high stress, according to the American Council on Exercise. In addition, exercise releases serotonin and dopamine, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, which can aid professionals in lowering stress levels.
  2. Collaborate and Delegate – It’s easy to get burnt out when you are acting as the sole point of contact on a project. Teams are there for a reason, so collaborate and delegate items among other team members whenever possible.
    To collaborate further, integrate security throughout the DevOps movement with DevSecOps, which was designed to build communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and IT operations teams. By uncovering and remediating vulnerabilities, professionals can solve problems before they arise, minimizing the extra burden of security.
  3. Education and Certifications – If the goal is to rid applications of potential vulnerabilities before they are released, then training has a major role to play in that equation. Many developers have not received education in spotting what secure code looks like, and many more aren’t fully aware of the more than 1,000 categories of security mistakes that developers can make. Since many security teams operate understaffed, it is difficult to find the time for further education in order to empower teams to incorporate security within the DevOps approach. Fortunately, there are many resources available to gain certifications. There are many programs available on the market.

With burnout on the rise, cybersecurity professionals, teams and organizations must prioritize their mental health and take steps to ensure they are well-equipped to handle the daily risk of cyberattacks. Professionals must be alert and vigilant, so implementing helpful technologies, turning to education/certifications and self-care techniques can better enable the entire profession to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.