Handling Stress as a Cybersecurity Professional
I don’t know about you, but if I were to ask my friends if their jobs are stressful, not a single one would tell me no. There would be varying degrees of stress and certain people would want to tell me full-on stories about a particular situation that got them there.
The point is that everyone feels stress and it’s important to better manage it for two reasons: 1) stress causes more health issues than anything else and 2) stress left unmanaged can lead to high dissatisfaction with work and life.
Cybersecurity professionals get more than their share of stress:
In cybersecurity, the stress levels regularly border on unmanageable even without a security incident. This leads to employee burnout, gaps in tasks and ultimately situations that get missed and cause mayhem for organizations and individuals. Therefore, keeping stress levels down in this kind of job is essential. Unfortunately, it’s not often something you’ll find in a cybersecurity training program.
Why is stress so high in the cybersecurity field? There are a number of reasons including:
- the constant attacks from cybercriminals making for no down-time
- demands to keep up with constant change (regulations, technologies, etc.)
- fear of letting the team or organization down
- not enough people on the team, management that just “doesn’t get it”
- no acknowledgement when things go “right”, and so much more.
Because stress is universal, there are numerous techniques for stress management BUT in this blog post, we want to provide tools that work particularly well for those in a cybersecurity role.
Three great stress management techniques for cybersecurity professionals:
- Create a support team within your team
You were hired to fill a specific need and despite the fact that you may have a similar background and education to other team members, your job titles and descriptions may be different (unless you’re in a larger organization). Because of that similarity in background and education and familiarity with your organization, you’re going to create your own support system. Some organizations call it cross-training. In reality, it’s planning for a future time-out.
Cybersecurity professionals are expected to be able to jump into action 24/7. It makes it hard to take a break even if it’s just to walk around, look at some trees or pet the dog. But, if someone on your team is cross-trained, you’re in the middle of tasks and you need 10 minutes to stop looking at monitors, you have back-up to help. In return you do the same for them when they need that quick moment to themself.
Taking frequent short breaks can be helpful in many ways including increasing mobility, changing mindset and improving restfulness. Another benefit is the comfort that comes from knowing you are working with a teammate to support each another.
- Prioritize and leave the work at work
Prioritizing tasks allows you to feel confident in knowing what order things need to be done in and is the basis for ensuring proper time management (even when you are overwhelmed). Make your list before you step away from your desk each day and then transition into “not-work” mode.
This transition has become increasingly harder for those working from home – “I’ll just do that one more thing before bed” and you end up working three more hours. While cell phones and other technology keep people in work mode too often, you can set a ritual that signals the transition from work time to home time. Maybe it’s moving the coffee cup from your desk to the sink or closing the door. Establish a ritual that supports your need for time away from work.
- Do things for you, regularly
Everyone knows they should exercise on a regular basis, but what about regularly doing things we really enjoy? If you like gardening, make a plan to do small things a few times a week or gift yourself a few hours on the weekend outside.
Since your job is in front of a screen, similar screen time isn’t a great idea. But, if you love playing video games and find it helps your mood, do it!
Make a list of activities you enjoy that are in varying lengths of time. Then, carve out some time, pick one of those tasks, tell yourself that you’re doing it to bring more pleasure and stress relief into your life and then get at it.
Stress management is a challenge and it seems that there are too many people forgetting to care for the most important thing in the world – themselves. Find ways to reduce your stress to make your work and life more enjoyable.
TechnoEdge Learning offers a wide variety of industry-leading certification training courses ranging from industry-standard CompTIA A+ certification to future-proof Network+ certification and comprehensive Security+ certification course.