november 2016 | Reghunathan
Recharge to Thrive Again
Siddha medicine consists of two medical systems, Siddha Vaidya and Ayurveda, which originated in South India thousands of years ago. Siddha Vaidya focuses on remedying illness, whereas the main emphasis of Ayurveda is on promoting health and wellness. Siddha Vaidya was established by the sage, Agasthya. He and his followers classified 4,448 different ailments and produced more than 200,000 herbal formulas that act as remedies or promote longevity. Ayurveda, founded by another sage, Dwanvantari, is concerned with balance within the body in terms of physical processes and energy flows. Ayurveda medicine uses herbal and herbo-mineral formulas to maintain health.
Dr. Reghunathan believes that an integrated approach will become increasingly important: “The future of medicine is in preventing diseases and maintaining health and sustaining life far beyond what is possible now.” In his first article for Meetings International, he describes how ancient Siddha medicine can assist in Integrated Medicine to prevent and treat a very modern condition: burnout.
In this article I am drawing on experience I gained when I was involved in burnout management. I was inspired by Shawn Achor’s and Michelle Gielan’s article in the Harvard Business Review entitled Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure, which pointed out that the consequence of not adequately recharging the body after an episode of stress is a possible burnout. This encouraged me to write a book about my experiences in burnout management and this article contains excerpts from You Can Thrive Again.
Burnout is generally perceived as a physiological response from the body to a psychological problem that the person has faced in the past or is still facing. I am exploring the idea that it is not just a psychological response from an overworked body, but the culmination of medical and psychological events, some long past, and some still persisting, set in motion at varying speeds by different factors that affect a person physically and psychologically.
The active state of burnout starts underneath the surface and is usually triggered by the appearance of many predisposing factors acting together or individually. I would like to explore all the variables that the body might be experiencing or has experienced to finally culminate in a burnout response. The psychological and psychiatric aspects are left to the respective professions in this discussion.
Just after my introduction to this condition in Sweden in the early 1990s, I thought that the causes of burnout were solely psychological in nature and that I, as a medical doctor, had no role in its treatment. However, further research convinced me that burnout treatment is a multi-disciplinary endeavour and that Integrated Medicine has a certain role to play in effectively treating it. Looking at burnout from various viewpoints helps in identifying the multiple approaches necessary for addressing an individual’s suffering from burnout. Stress is just the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
When you visit a doctor, it is important to provide a good history. This helps the doctor in determining the necessary investigations and possible strategies in treatment. Write up your medical history enumerating everything that you think is important so that no point is lost in conversation or forgotten in haste. The doctor has to find the roots of the issue, establish a timeline of events in your life and assess the major events that might have contributed to your current condition.
A blood biochemistry study is very important and imperative, along with a complete hormone profile. Unrelated infections co-existing in a patient can be identified by an adequate microbiology workup. This will indicate the presence of immediately treatable issues such as chronic infections and can lead to dramatic changes in the patient’s condition. Depending on the results of the lab workup, your doctor can determine the course of further management. Imaging studies such as an ultrasound of the abdomen, thyroid, and breast (for women) should be done along with an EKG.
Regarding prevention, I agree with Shawn that working on an aircraft is doubly stressful. According to Siddha Vaidya and Ayurveda, the primary stress arises from the very high speed itself, regardless of the mode of transport that is used. The stress from working plus the primary stress of travelling could be very taxing for a person when this is the norm. Adequate nutrition, sleep and recreation are equally important. When there are stressful events in your life, in addition to work-related stress, it is good to see a doctor to obtain adequate support.
What causes burnout? Humans are complex creatures and a factor that causes a disease in one individual may not cause a disease in another. Let us explore some common causes that are recognised in Integrated Medicine:
Five areas for managing burnout:
Burnout management is within your reach and is not so difficult with good medical assistance and care. You can recharge your body and mind not just with entertainment and rest, but also by fortifying your body and attending to any treatable conditions. When you focus on the five areas and take action with your medical professional, you can overcome fatigue, exhaustion and burnout – and you can thrive again.