Diana Initiative 2021-Rachael Cornejo & Lili Siri Spira-Beyond Burnout: Hacking Your Way to a ...

Jul 22, 2021 03:09 · 3924 words · 19 minute read

Beyond Burnout: Hacking Your Way to a Healthier Work Life Balance Rachel Conejo and Lili Siri Spira MEGAN: Good afternoon.

00:27 - My name is Megan Guth and I’m featuring rated R cofounders Lili Siri Spira and Rachel Conejo.

00:30 - I would like to thank our sponsors for making this event possible and don’t forget to visit the expo hall where the sponsors are.

00:37 - There’s contests and swag and community organizations to.

00:40 - Feedback is much appreciated. The link will be posted in the chat.

00:47 - Lili and Rachel created Rated R for positive mental health.

00:56 - After multiple years as investigators combing the deep dark Internet and working with the UC Berkeley School of law, they realized it was applicable to sensitive online work.

01:13 - RACHEL: Thank you very much for that beautiful introduction, Megan.

01:17 - And we are happy to share this talk with you, Beyond Burnout: Hacking Your Way to a Healthier Work Life Balance.

01:25 - Without further ado, diving into it. Today’s agenda, we’re going to intro the session.

01:31 - Talking key concepts such as holistic security, resilience and trauma and delve into recommended strategies.

01:43 - Since we only have 20 minutes, it’s a basic level and then direct you to our website with more in depth toolkits and resources and so on.

01:52 - And then just end with some closing thoughts.

01:55 - About further ado, I’m Rachel. Lili is presenting with me.

02:00 - We started this project to support professionals and activists who deal with sensitive online content, and we’re really excited to share what we’ve learned with all of you guys.

02:08 - And also if you have any questions afterwards, feel free to reach out to us on social media.

02:13 - Our info should be in our bios. But we might be putting it up at the end as well.

02:18 - Beautiful. So, now about further ado Lili is going to lead us in a brief breathing exercise to ground us before the meat of our presentation.

02:27 - LILI: Yeah. Hi, everyone. It’s lovely to be here today.

02:32 - Especially presenting with Rachel, one of my cofounders of Rated R. So, I’m just going guide us through a brief breathing exercise.

02:40 - So, we’re going to start off by sitting up straight.

02:46 - Shoulders back and relaxed. You want to sort of have your spine aligned.

02:50 - That helps of thinking of a string down your spine and just pull it up like you’re a doll.

02:54 - And put your hands on your stomach. We are going to be breathing with our diagram which sits at the bottom of our lungs.

03:03 - So, we’re going to do a four, four, eight. So, we’re going to breathe in through our nose for eight.

03:11 - Our nose filters out all the particles from the air.

03:15 - We’re going to hold for four, and breathe out four and then eight.

03:21 - So, breathe in. One, two, three, four.

03:25 - Hold. One, two, three, four. Breathe out.

03:30 - One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

03:36 - Try it again. Maybe close your eyes.

03:41 - And make sure your stomach is expanding and you’re contracted.

03:45 - So, breathe in. One, two, three, four.

03:50 - Hold. One, two, three, four. Breathe out.

03:55 - One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

04:01 - And this is a breathing exercise that’s really great to do just to center yourself whenever you’re about to do anything.

04:09 - Just when you’re just about to breathe. With this in mind, I’m going to pass it back to Rachel to talk about why we’re here today.

04:20 - RACHEL: Perfect. Well, thank you, Lili, for centering us.

04:22 - And please to everyone here, remember to do this throughout your workday as a re centering whenever you’re delving into a particularly hard task.

04:30 - Yeah. So, I’m here to talk about holistic security and why it’s so important.

04:34 - If you take nothing else from this presentation today, I want you to take this concept of holistic security.

04:40 - From the triangle here, physical, digital, and mental security working together.

04:48 - And the main takeaway here, you need mental security.

04:51 - And you need to think about your mental security.

04:53 - We all do. When we are not mentally secure, we’re risking how well we’re doing our job of protecting other people.

05:00 - All of us want to enter the cyber world. We want to protect things digitally.

05:05 - And physical and digital protection work together, and we need to be responsible for our own mental security in order to have the other two types and to help others.

05:18 - And so, now just kind of a brief exercise to start thinking about how this applies to our work.

05:24 - Just take a moment and visualize what is one of your main job related tasks? So, in my case, I work as an analyst at the Global Cyber Alliance.

05:34 - One of the main things is I analyze Internet of threat things every day and look at what they use to attack Internet devices.

05:42 - That’s my task. Think about a task you do.

05:47 - And take a moment and consider the wider impact of your work.

05:51 - When you do this task, what is at stake? For me, when I do this, my personal physical security is at stake.

05:59 - If I slip up and accidently click on a link in one of these commands, right? I could download the malware that’s downloaded on to the IoT devices on to my computer.

06:08 - Obviously, that is very stressful. What else is at stake? If I don’t analyze these commands and find out where they’re coming from and working towards getting rid of the bad actors, all of these IoT devices are at risk.

06:25 - They’re going to get spied on. And perhaps the US is at risk because the critical infrastructure is disabled during an IoT attack.

06:33 - It’s easy to get easy to get overwhelmed by thinking about what’s at stake.

06:38 - That takes a toll on us. It takes a toll on my mental health to think, yeah, I’m doing this task that every day is very routine.

06:46 - But there is a lot at stake. It takes a toll on you.

06:49 - What me and Lili want to encourage you to do is sit with the feeling and the toll these things take with you and work towards developing resilience to get through it.

07:00 - Going back to the idea of what toll does this take on you, right? This idea of trauma.

07:07 - And trauma can result from experiencing a traumatic event at work or in your personal life, right? So, experiencing things firsthand.

07:14 - So, at work, that could look at, you know, if there is a cyber attack that’s gonna be really traumatic or in your personal life like, you know, say there’s a death of a family member.

07:24 - That’s really traumatic and you have to keep working and keep being productive and keep protecting others in the cyber sphere through all that have.

07:29 - That’s really challenging to do. There’s also secondhand or vicarious trauma.

07:34 - Empathy with another person who experienced a traumatic event.

07:38 - For example if you’re working with the victims of a cyber attack.

07:41 - You might feel trauma even though the attack didn’t happen to you because you’re working with them, and the experiences fall on your shoulders.

07:50 - So, really start acknowledging these things.

07:53 - But the good news is you can develop resilience to these things.

07:57 - Lili and I define resilience as reacting well in the face of the traumas that we’ve identified connected to work.

08:06 - You may have heard of resilience as the ability to adapt to cyber events and build up your enterprise to protect against cyber events.

08:16 - But we want you to think about your own personal resilience as posed to mental trauma that we’ve talked about.

08:25 - And the main thing about resilience, it’s preventive, ideally, rather than reactive.

08:30 - Some of the strategies that Lili is going to share with you.

08:32 - If you implement them now, the goal is to perhaps develop good habits so that you can already cope well by the time these traumas start hitting.

08:43 - It’s important to take time to be patient with yourself and develop resilience over time and understand that, you know, each strategy that Lili talks about that you put into place builds towards this resilience.

08:56 - Awesome. So, without further ado, Lili is going to take you through the strategies we have developed to develop this resilience.

09:05 - LILI: Yes, thank you so much for going over that, Rachel.

09:09 - Really eloquently put. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

09:14 - We have to help others through helping and supporting ourselves.

09:20 - But also, helping aside, you are a whole person and there’s value just in that.

09:28 - So, remember to respect and honor yourself.

09:31 - How do we do this, though? I’m gonna present a few different strategies today.

09:36 - So, the first thing I’m gonna present is the check in.

09:40 - Checking in is especially important in order to make sure that you’re providing yourself with self care.

09:47 - Next slide, Rachel. So, we have some slides here from the Rated R check in deck to guide you through the process of self care.

10:01 - A lot of people think of self care in the context of wine and face masks.

10:05 - Both of which are great. But self care ultimately comes down to this.

10:10 - These things include things like, are have you showered or had water or eaten? This is because our physical well being is connected to our mental well being.

10:21 - When we feel good physically, we can feel good mentally.

10:25 - Because it is all connected. Our brains are a functioning part of our physical selves.

10:33 - And they and it’s important to treat your brain well.

10:36 - So, then your brain can treat the rest of your body well and vice versa.

10:43 - Another great way to check in with yourself and to make sure you’re checking in with yourself is mindfulness.

10:48 - Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of the self.

10:52 - This allows you to be aware enough of yourself and your needs in the moment so then you can act on supporting yourself.

11:00 - You can practice mindfulness through meditation and a variety of cognitive behavioral exercises.

11:08 - Another another great resource is YouFeelLikeShit. com.

11:13 - It’s an interactive guide to self care which is really helpful for holding yourself accountable and also motivating yourself through the process.

11:24 - Especially when, you know, you’re going through something really difficult or when you’re just really tired.

11:30 - And you don’t even feel like you have the energy to really check in with yourself.

11:37 - Next slide. So, it’s also really important to set boundaries in life.

11:43 - Both physically and mentally. As I mentioned earlier, the physical and the psychological world are deeply connected.

11:49 - Psychologists say, for instance, your bed should be only for two things, sleep and sex.

11:54 - When you work in bed, for instance, your brain begins to associate that space with stress, making it harder to sleep.

12:01 - I, for instance, used to work as an open source investigator alongside Rachel.

12:07 - And they really cautioned us against watching any of the videos or really taking in any of the material we had to take in for our jobs anywhere that we wanted to be associated with relaxation.

12:23 - In part because the materials that we were witnessing are really traumatizing and you don’t want to have a physical space associated with trauma because then you’re not going to be able to use that physical space really for fully what it’s intended.

12:36 - Like relaxation or sleep. It’s also important to not watch things like movies and TV shows in bed.

12:45 - Because then you’re associating your bed with entertainment.

12:49 - Both ways take away from what your bed should be associated with.

12:53 - This is this entire system is called sleep hygiene which is extremely important to making sure you have a regular sleep schedule.

13:01 - Which just, again, helps your mental health so much.

13:06 - If you can, it’s also great to get different devices for your work versus your personal life.

13:12 - So, you’re having that association and then you’re able to set clear boundaries for yourself.

13:16 - Not everyone has access to getting one device, much less two.

13:21 - So, you could also create separate accounts on your device.

13:25 - This helps optimize both your work and your play.

13:29 - The same thing goes for social media accounts.

13:32 - Have a Twitter for professional work and then have a Twitter for just fun and memes.

13:37 - Again, you’re really drawing that line for yourself.

13:40 - Also, try to have a consistent schedule when you’re working and when you’re not.

13:46 - Both of these help to make sure that you’re gonna get the most out of your time working and out of your time relaxing.

13:56 - Next slide. And, of course, we all need somebody to lean on.

14:01 - Even the most introverted of us. If you can’t talk to people in your personal life about your work, due to an NDA or because you feel like they just won’t understand, try talking to coworkers or join a professional network.

14:16 - Also, if you have access, consider finding a mental healthcare provider.

14:21 - And remember that when you’re looking for a mental healthcare provider, that there’s a lot of different kinds of mental healthcare.

14:28 - From therapists to psychiatrists. When it comes to therapy, you can do psychoanalytical, cognitive behavioral, dialectic behavioral.

14:36 - There’s also eye movement and desensitization and reprocessing.

14:41 - It’s a great therapy for people with experience with PTSD.

14:48 - A lot of the times unfortunately these things simply aren’t accessible.

14:52 - So, we have a free intersectional mental health resource guide on our website.

14:58 - Next slide. And at the end of the day, it’s just really important to reflect and meditate on these questions.

15:09 - What do I wish to accomplish through my work? Personally, impact wise? What do I value? Is my current time being spent fulfilling those? You know, even if my work is very fulfilling, is it leaving space for me to just exist and be fulfilled in a didn’t way? And asking yourself these questions, you may realize that you’re no longer finding work fulfilling and/or it’s distracting from a lot of fulfilling your life in other ways.

15:52 - So, consider taking time to work, study or volunteer in another field.

15:58 - Maybe reignite a passion for history that you had when you were in college.

16:05 - And if that’s not something you can really afford to do, ask your boss if you can try different things at your work.

16:11 - If you’re someone who does a lot of documenting hate crimes, for instance, that would get very tired.

16:20 - Tiring after a point. So, maybe ask if instead of doing that for 8 hours a day, you can do that for 4 hours a day and work on something else.

16:28 - Next slide. And if you can, take a break.

16:35 - Sometimes you just need a break. And there’s no shame in that.

16:39 - And maybe you take a break, and you don’t come back and there’s no shame in that either.

16:45 - Sometimes we lose a passion for what we’re doing.

16:50 - Sometimes we’re still passionate about what we do, but we’re no longer able to function as human beings, as ourselves within that world.

17:04 - It’s a sad reality. Especially when you still haven’t lost that love for your work.

17:07 - But at the end of the day, you’re a whole person.

17:13 - And you can find fulfilling work elsewhere that allows you to also take care of yourself.

17:21 - Of course, like I said, it can be a privilege to leave these things behind.

17:26 - But just try your best to find that little corner of your life in order to make sure you’re taking care so that you can take care of other things.

17:36 - And in conclusion, I just really want to thank everyone for coming here today and listening to me and Rachel talk about something that we’re extremely passionate about.

17:48 - Especially as former open source investigators and for people who are currently doing work that can be traumatizing at times and stressful, if not traumatizing.

18:00 - So, thank you so much. And you can find more of our resources at RatedReslient. com.

18:07 - Since we have a little bit of time left. I’m going to open it up for exceptions we’re more than happy to answer them.

18:14 - Or to go over different strategies. MEGAN: Yes, thank you so much.

18:20 - Really appreciate it, feel free to reach out over Twitter, LinkedIn, our website.

18:25 - Perfect. Any questions? [this is Rachel] I can’t see the chat.

18:30 - I’m presenting my screen. LILI: You can exit out of that, Rachel.

18:36 - RACHEL: I don’t know if I can. LILI: I see from Mia G.

18:40 - How do you do with those surges of burnout after you complete a major long term objective? So, that is a great question, Mia.

18:54 - It’s really I mean, it’s really difficult. I’ve I’ve suffered through it myself.

18:59 - But I think one of the things is prevention.

19:05 - Resilience and mental health is not just something that you do after you’ve experienced trauma.

19:11 - It’s something to prevent in the first place.

19:13 - So, if you’re taking care of yourself throughout that major long term objective, then the burnout will be less than it would be otherwise.

19:24 - And so, keeping that preventive frame in mind and not just burning yourself out and being like, you know what? I’ll put a band aid on it later on that burn.

19:35 - No, try to prevent it in the first place. It depends on what resources you have, but if you can take a break for a short amount of time, because if you’re burnt out, you’re burnt out.

19:51 - The only way to deal with it is to give yourself time and space.

19:55 - And to have empathy for yourself like you would have for one of your friends or family members.

20:02 - Treat yourself like you like your own best friend.

20:06 - I think that’s really important. MEGAN: Yeah.

20:11 - LILI: Oh, sorry. MEGAN: No, go ahead.

20:16 - LILI: Oh, no, Rachel. Just if you wanted to say anything? RACHEL: No, that’s all good.

20:26 - Anything else? Do we have time for one more? MEGAN: I was just gonna say, it reminds me of, you know, being on the airplane when they say, put your oxygen mask on first before you help others.

20:39 - Because you really can’t help others until you’ve helped yourself.

20:43 - RACHEL: Exactly. LILI: Completely. And, you know, you it’s there are a lot of steppingstones.

20:50 - Like I said, sometimes you’re so burnt out that you find it hard to even take care of yourself.

20:55 - I think unfortunately a lot of us have been there.

20:58 - Especially in our modern work culture. Even in school I know as someone who graduated in 2020, I was completely burned out after going to UC Berkeley for four years.

21:09 - It was really difficult for me. But you know, it’s important to try to make the effort to do those basic things.

21:18 - Those building blocks of just food, water, sleep.

21:23 - And try to really build up from there if possible.

21:26 - RACHEL: Yeah, I mean, I also think that when you end a project, even though you feel burnt out, there’s an exciting moment of opportunity.

21:33 - You finished the project. What do you have to be excited about? What freedom do you have to launch yourself into what comes next? I know exactly what you mean.

21:42 - We’re all finished with a project. Whoa.

21:44 - I feel like I’m exhausted and no longer working towards a whole.

21:48 - That’s an important moment to reflect and think, you know, how did I feel about what I was doing? Was that a worthwhile use of my time? How can I improve in how can I do better going forward? I think taking those moments and seeing them as moments of opportunity to get excited about the future rather than moments to sit with the exhaustion of the past.

22:08 - That’s something that helps me get through it.

22:11 - If that makes sense. Awesome. LILI: Definitely.

22:16 - No, totally, totally correct, Rachel. I couldn’t agree more.

22:22 - So much of this is about framing. Which, again, can be really hard to do in the moment.

22:28 - But that’s a that’s a great example of something that, you know, a cognitive behavioral therapist would maybe say to someone.

22:37 - You know, when it comes to reframing. And so, you can practice a lot of cognitive behavioral exercises even without a therapist.

22:45 - Although I do recommend a therapist instead of me, personally.

22:51 - Definitely, definitely there are some amazing healthcare providers out there.

22:56 - It may take you a while to get to one you really meld with.

23:01 - But I think definitely worth it. Especially if you’re finding yourself in burnout.

23:06 - RACHEL: Beautiful. MEGAN: Yeah, for sure.

23:10 - LILI: Yeah. MEGAN: Well, thank you, guys, for this.

23:20 - You know, and there’s there’s some interesting comments in the chat as well about I think the kind of collective burnout that we’re feeling, you know, across the globe because of the pandemic and everything else.

23:34 - So, really appreciate your talk on this. It was really refreshing.

23:37 - Having those definitive tools and the toolkit that you have on your website will be really helpful to folks, I believe.

23:43 - Thank you. LILI: Thank you so much for having us.

23:46 - And everyone, wishing you a lovely rest of your day.

23:49 - And a lovely resilient day. RACHEL: Yes, yes.

23:53 - LILI: All righty. Bye!.