How To Move From Burnout To Fully Charged In Life And Work

Burnout is a growing concern, as studies show a significant rise in its prevalence. Simply looking at the workload is not enough to understand the underlying causes of this physical and emotional challenge. Surveys indicate that more than 50% of managers experience burnout, with Gen Z, millennials, and women being particularly affected. As a career and leadership coach, I have witnessed numerous cases of extreme stress and burnout, often resulting from unknown or misunderstood factors.

To shed light on this issue, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Neha Sangwan, a renowned expert in the field of burnout. Dr. Sangwan is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Intelligence, an internal medicine physician, a speaker, and a corporate communication expert. Her work focuses on empowering individuals, leaders, and teams with effective communication tools to address stress, miscommunication, and interpersonal conflicts. She also helps in healing chronic conditions such as headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and burnout.

Dr. Sangwan has consulted for organizations like the American Heart Association, American Express, Kaiser Permanente, and Google. She has shared her insights on prestigious stages such as TEDx Berkeley, TEDx San Luis Obispo, and TEDx Babson. She is the author of "TalkRx: Five Steps to Honest Conversations that Create Connection, Health, and Happiness" and her new book, "Powered by Me: From Burned Out to Fully Charged at Work and in Life."

When asked about the global epidemic of burnout and mental health, Dr. Sangwan observes that our constant pursuit of speed and efficiency, along with the pressure to do more with less, has significantly contributed to rising stress levels. The pandemic has forced us to confront our emotions and reflect on our chosen paths in life, leading many to realize the need for change. She wrote her book, "Powered by Me," to address the root causes of stress and offer personalized healing solutions for individuals. Recognizing the surge in anxiety, depression, and burnout, Dr. Sangwan emphasizes the importance of finding comprehensive and long-term solutions.

Dr. Sangwan's personal journey with burnout stems from her upbringing as a middle daughter of immigrants. Balancing her parents' expectations of becoming an engineer and a physician, she followed a path that pleased everyone but herself. It was during her medical practice that she experienced burnout firsthand. Recognizing that stress contributes to the majority of illnesses, she delved into understanding its root causes and ways to heal not only herself but also her patients.

In discussing the limitations of traditional medicine when it comes to burnout, Dr. Sangwan acknowledges that it is effective for acute care and crisis situations. In her own medical training, burnout was not addressed, and the focus was on treating symptoms rather than understanding the underlying causes. While medications and time off can provide temporary relief, they often fail to equip individuals with the necessary skills or insights to prevent future burnout episodes.

One of the key issues Dr. Sangwan addresses in her book is the relationship between boundaries and burnout. Boundaries play a vital role in navigating safety, growth, and connection in our lives. As circumstances change, boundaries that once served us may become too rigid or loose. Evaluating where energy is being drained and adjusting boundaries accordingly is crucial in combating burnout. Taking care of one's physical health, rest, and nutrition also requires a shift in mindset away from societal and professional norms.

Conflict management is another essential aspect of burnout prevention discussed by Dr. Sangwan. Conflict often arises when we compromise our desires and values to please others or fit into a group. Ignoring conflict may provide temporary relief, but it ultimately leads to distance in relationships. Unresolved conflicts can transform into internal struggles, causing frustration and self-blame. By addressing conflicts at the moment, individuals have the opportunity to foster authentic relationships and grow together.

To begin the healing process and overcome burnout, Dr. Sangwan recommends three instrumental steps. Firstly, assessing one's current state by identifying where energy is being gained or drained in different aspects of life. Secondly, listening to the body's signals and interpreting them to better understand one's unique physical responses to stress. Lastly, empowering oneself through deep breathing exercises that facilitate the release of challenging emotions.

By addressing the root causes of burnout and implementing personalized solutions, we can start the journey toward a healthier and more fulfilling life and career.  

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