HomeRule BreakersBeat the Work Burnout With Dr. Puja Aggarwal

Beat the Work Burnout With Dr. Puja Aggarwal

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Work burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world it is very common. 

Our next Rule Breaker, Dr. Puja Aggarwal, helps women navigate through work burnout so they can live a happy and fulfilled life.

Dr. Puja Aggarwal is a Neurologist and Certified Burnout and Growth Mindset Expert. She teaches busy, high-achieving female professionals how to get rid of overwhelm, stress less, and find themselves in our chaotic, fast-paced world.

Read on to know Puja’s best tips to overcome burnout!

1. Can you tell me a little bit more about Zenful Brain? 

I started Zenful brain last year. I am a neurologist or brain doctor by training and helping high-achieving, working moms to help increase zen in their lives. I help take them from being burnt out to being more empowered and living a more fulfilled life. I work on a lot of changes in the brain and cognitive reframing in terms of the way we are thinking. 

2. What inspired you to work in this field? 

I was a practicing physician in 2015 and I have been working very hard for about 60 hours/week. I wasn’t sleeping much and had little kids that I needed to look after. Then one day in July 2016 I came home and my three-year-old daughter asked me to read a book with her. But I didn’t have any energy for that. It made me feel very guilty and horrible for giving all my time at work. That day I decided that I would make my family and myself my priority. Looking back, I now realize I was facing burnout as a physician. Coaching really helped me to change my mindset and make myself my priority. And now during the pandemic, there are many women out there who are trying to juggle everything and experiencing burnout. So now I help working moms realize that burnouts are not normal and that’s something you can overcome and take care of yourself.

3. What does the Zenful brain mean? 

‘Zen’ means peace and the ‘Zenful Brain’ means making our brains full of Zen. 

4. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently when you were first starting out? 

If I could go back in time, I would make myself a priority. And definitely be better with nutrition, sleep, and exercise. I always used to say ‘yes’ to people at work, my boss and colleagues, for tasks that I didn’t want to do, and that contributed to my burnout. So I would learn to say ‘no’ to people.

I would also make my family a priority and spend most of my time with them. 

5. What are five things you would suggest one should do if they are experiencing work burnout? 

The first thing I would recommend is powerful self-reflection. Often we don’t know what we think or feel. We should take out ten minutes at the end of the day and sit down with a pen and a journal. And write about our feelings. When we do this every day and look at that journal at the end of each week, we’ll know exactly what we were feeling and thinking. It’s been shown to improve mood and decrease anxiety over time. 

The next thing is developing mindset readiness. Often our mindsets are resistant to taking on new challenges and trying new things. If there is a certain goal in your life, write them down, pick one positive thought associated with each of those goals and say it out loud in front of the mirror every day. Over time you will start believing that thought and working towards your goal. This way you are rewiring your brain.

The third thing to do is practice gratitude. We mostly focus on the negative and things that we don’t have. This is called negative bias. So when you remind yourself of things that you are grateful for, it will help increase endorphins and dopamine in your body. They are called pleasure chemicals. 

The fourth thing is learning to set boundaries or learn to say no. We often say yes to people to please them but then we lose who we are or what we want. Learn to say no to things that you don’t want to do. As you do it consistently, you’ll realize that you no longer feel the need to please people by going out of your way and you will start gaining people’s respect for your boundaries. 

The final thing to do is learn to let go of your expectations. There are preset expectations in our minds of what things are going to be like. But when things don’t go as we expected, our brain starts to remunerate everything that went wrong. By letting go of expectations we are able to enjoy things more in our life and be present in the moment instead of fixating on our expectations.  

6. What is your favorite mantra or affirmation that keeps you going?

My favorite affirmation is that I can do it. Whenever I say this to myself, it helps me to overcome stress and work towards my goal.

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