“Your body is polite, so it starts with a whisper. Then if you’re not listening, it gets a little louder.”
For, Dr. Neha Sangwan, author of “Powered by Me: From Burnout to Fully Charged at Work and Life,” when her body began whispering that it was overloaded with stress, she was encouraged by her colleagues in the medical community to override those signals in order to address the needs of patients. In fact, it was considered a badge of honor.
She coped with unhealthy eating habits while that stress led to such severe throat constriction that she was convinced she had cancer. Finally, June 17, 2004–yes, she remembers the date—she experienced an episode of burnout that led her to begin questioning the connection between emotional stress and physical symptoms. Soon, she began treating her patients holistically, helping get to the root of the stress that was manifesting physically.
Our body’s stress signals are as unique to us as our fingerprints. In an increasingly fast-paced world, we, too, are encouraged to ignore those signals as we move from our comfort zone to what Neha calls the learning zone, where we have a chance to figure out what’s setting them off before we move into the panic zone.
She walks Jim through an exercise during which he recognizes his body’s reaction to both stressful and soothing thoughts, and where he identifies the deeper fears that underlie that stress. So often we rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as turning to unhealthy food or alcohol, temporary fixes which eventually only add to our stress.
These strategies do have their place, Neha says and she shares the best way to approach them. She also explains the importance of trust to intimacy, why we should shift from furious to curious mindset, and what a “we” world looks like vs. a “me” world.
“Vulnerability without trust actually becomes trauma.” (4:54 | Neha)
“A lot of us are more tuned in to what other people need more than we know what we need.” (10:44 | Neha)
“Awareness is the first step because if you're unaware of something, you're going to react rather than respond…Most people focus externally and have no idea what's going on internally…what did I just do?” (16:20 | Neha)
“There are different ways that people override those signals. They've been taught to, because we have a society that's moving at a faster and faster pace every day.” (25:23 | Neha)
“Something really big I want people to know is that your inability to communicate with yourself and each other makes you physically ill.” (42:54 | Neha)
“How you burn out is as unique to you as each person's fingerprint.” (46:14 | Neha)
Connect with Neha Sangwan:
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Intro Music: Catch It by Coma- Medi
Outro Music: Upbeat Funky Retro by QubeSounds