Managing Your Busy Brain with Chief Wellness Officer, Dr. Romie Mushtaq, MD, ABIHM

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Full Transcript Below

Jenn DeWall:

Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall. And in this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit, I sat down with Dr. Romie Mushtaq, and here’s what we talked about. Or maybe a little teaser. Do you have trouble focusing on your to-do list? Are thoughts are racing through your mind when you try to fall asleep? I know mine do! Have the usual stress management techniques stopped working for you? These are all signs that you have a Busy Brain. Dr. Romie, Mushtaq is here with the cure for your Busy Brain called Brain Shift. Dr. Romie is a triple board-certified physician award-winning speaker and national media expert. She mixes her unique authority in neurology, integrative medicine, and mindfulness to transform cultures in teams. Dr. Romie currently serves as chief wellness officer at evolution hospitality. Where she has scaled a mindfulness and wellness program for over 7,000 employees, these days, her most underutilized pre-pandemic talent is running through airports and high heels. Let’s get ready to Brain Shift with The Leadership Habit community.

Meet Dr. Romie

Jenn DeWall:

Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall. And on this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit, I am so thrilled to sit down with Dr. Romie. Mushtaq. I know you just heard that bio, and you’re likely thinking, wow. She is going to have some powerful things to say, Dr. Romie. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. We are so grateful to have you.

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

Jenn. Thank you. It’s great to be here and meet all your leaders through their earbuds.

Jenn DeWall:

Oh my gosh. My first question, you know, cause I know that you’re in a much different place. Our audience likely can hear that in the bio, you dedicated your entire youth to becoming a doctor, and then you left medicine. Why did you make that pivot?

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

Oh wow. So, you know, I was raised with this one success mantra. I am a daughter of immigrants, and English is my second language, and I’m a product, a proud product of the public school system in a small town in Illinois. And my parents had one mantra for me growing up, we have one daughter, and you will become a doctor. And a, you know, I’m old enough to remember cassette tapes and eight tracks. And so in those days, I was a chatty little girl and always curious. And so when I think my mom needed a pause from my chatter and endless questions and curiosity, she would send me to go read the encyclopedia and reward me when I would come back and tell her what I learned— with chocolate. So that was my entire youth. Always curious, always reading, and you fast forward. And I enjoyed every moment of medical school and had this predilection for neuroscience and neurology. And remember, this was in the 1990s before talking neuroscience and neuropsychology was sexy. I was kind of more the odd bird out. And I entered neurology at a time when less than 5% of brain doctors in the United States were women.

So I, you know, I think as a budding leader, as a researcher, and as a doctor, I was challenged at every, I think, area of my career to stay calm and stay focused. And I knew, okay, keep your head down, keep your heels high and stay laser-focused. But the truth of the matter was, I’ll be honest, I’m a brain doctor, and I didn’t know how to manage my own stress. Here I was like working 80 to 120 hour work weeks between seeing patients getting called into the emergency room and my free time doing research, teaching medical students. And I started to have chest pain. And you know, initially, what does every doctor tell you? I was in my young thirties at the time. They’re like, Oh honey, you’re like every other type, a success-driven doctor that’s coming in here. Junior faculty, you’re stressed, you have acid reflux. You know, you need to stop the chocolate, try antacids, and try probiotics. And I’m just like, Oh good Lord. So I’m listening. I was a good patient. It didn’t work. So I just stopped the antacids and restarted the chocolate. Jenn, I ain’t gonna lie.

Jenn DeWall:

You didn’t follow the doctor’s orders?!

Burnout in the Pandemic and Beyond

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

I tried and didn’t work, and there was something deeper going on. And I think opening up because we are recording this during a global pandemic, and I work with teams now virtually all over the world. There’s this phenomenon. I can sometimes even see it on a virtual call. Like we’re having, it’s like the lights are on and nobody’s home. If you looked at me, that bubbly chatty Romie had disappeared, you know, back then, they didn’t have a term for burnout. Basically, it was male colleagues kind of seeing that I was getting sick, not knowing what was going on thinking, Oh, this is what happens when you let a woman into the Academy, right?

And it turns out it wasn’t just acid reflux. I was so sleep-deprived and stressed and on this burn and churn cycle, right? Burn through the day, keep churning. And I was burning myself out, and it turns out I have achalasia, a rare medical disorder, but my stress was so bad that it kind of fast-forwarded and made the disease so bad that by the time they properly diagnosed what I had, I had precancerous lesions. And about 11 years ago, I went through life-saving surgery. And it was at that time, remember cassette tapes that I remember going home to my small town in Illinois, where I grew up, and my parents and my elders and our community and our in our family were like, you know what happened to that little Romie. She used to laugh and be happy all the time. I don’t even recognize you anymore.

And I think that was my aha moment. And I can’t remember— it was some auntie— hands, me, a guided meditation cassette tape. And I’m like, okay, this is whack, y’all. Now you need to remember; this is before there were meditation apps that were ubiquitous and yoga studios everywhere. Like no everybody’s favorite medical school. Youtube was not online. Like none of that existed. And this is weird for a very analytical brain doctor. And I found my path to meditation, and here was the thing my post-operative chest pain started to get better. I didn’t need all those toxic pain meds, but more importantly, I started to kind of lift up out of that feeling of overwhelm and gloom and darkness. And I knew there was something to this, Jenn and I thought this was just healing for me. I started to travel the world because the cassette tapes weren’t cutting it.

I was reading books. They didn’t quite make sense. And I ended up traveling to Eastern Asia, South Asia, South America to work with these mindfulness teachers, these meditation teachers, these healers, to learn from them. And somewhere along in those few years in the journey, that aha moment hits like, Oh my gosh, you’re supposed to bring this back to your brain and mental health patients. Like there is a different way to heal. You bring Eastern and Western medicine together. So in 2013, I went back and studied even more and got my board certification in integrative medicine, which is the science of wellness. And I started to see patients, probably like everybody listening to this podcast. They get to me at that last stage of burnout when they’ve been to every doctor, and they feel like nothing else can be done. And we’re going to talk about it. They’re in that Busy Brain state. And I thought like, I can either see patients one-on-one like a traditional doctor, but I’m not going to be able to scale this mission. And I had this boneheaded idea, a doctor without an MBA saying— I’m going to start a business. And I’m going to knock on corporate America’s door and say, Hey, y’all, you’re missing the point. You need to be thinking about the brain and mental health of your employees.

And Jenn, you have to know— like before the pandemic— this was insane. I have spoken at some of the biggest conferences globally, and C-suite executives are scratching their heads every time. Like what? We have a brain doctor here talking about stress and mindfulness. And now look at this here we are, in a pandemic, and the conversations are finally happening that I was personally facing 10, 11 years ago. And so that is my humble journey and why this mission is so personal to me.

Jenn DeWall:

Oh my gosh. Your journey is an incredible one. I love that you, you know, really opened the door for other females in medicine to practice neurology. That is yes, absolutely. I want to acknowledge that. Yeah. And that’s so inspiring. And I know there’s someone listening, but also because I think there was a period of time. I, it is really interesting now to hear mental health be a phrase at work when so long, it was never, it was very separate. It was, you keep your personal life or whatever is going on out there. We don’t want it here. So I love that you even acknowledge it, that when you were experiencing burnout, that was something that, you know, no one else really observed. And I’m curious, what did, what was it called then? It was just like, Oh, you’re tired?

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

I felt like I felt so alone, Jenn. And I felt like I was the only one going through it, and there wasn’t a name for it. It was basically like she can’t cut it. And the sad thing is now is I meet leaders who are in similar toxic environments. And the one common denominator of this global pandemic is that it has made every leader face their own health, their own mortality. And to think about how do I keep my employees healthy, both physically and mentally. And that’s where we are. So yeah, back then, there wasn’t a name for it. Now, you know, maybe five years ago, when I gave my Ted talk, the headline started to erupt about the physician burnout crisis, the burnout crisis, and outside of healthcare, yet we weren’t really talking about solutions. And that’s where I wanted to bring my, you know, over 20 years of authority now in neurology, integrative medicine, and mindfulness together and say, how do you create programs where we can create impact in the workplace and why it’s so important in the workplace?

Because before the pandemic, Jenn, we knew in here in the United States, I know we have a global audience, but in the US, the Center for Disease Control was saying 90% of all outpatient visits are due to stress. So, people who are going to the doctor going to their chiropractor, it’s a stress-related illness, just like you heard mine was. And, and the number one cause before the economic downturn was our jobs, our jobs were literally killing us, and nobody was doing anything about it. I don’t want to say nobody. I was working with a few cutting-edge companies that got it right away and, you know, had me in as a consultant. And we’ll talk about that in a second. But for the most part, like you said, you know, this was something you quietly went to HR, and God forbid, you got sick, and you went on family medical leave. There was just a lot of whispering in the office. Right. and so I’m really thankful for how far we’ve come and that we can have these crucial conversations and more openness and honesty to say, you know, if you don’t include wellness as a part of your culture, forget engagement, and that all is going to touch your bottom line in multiple ways, if your business, regardless of the industry

The Busy Brain and The Path to Wellness

Jenn DeWall:

You are doing such important work. I think of even in the last six to eight weeks, how many friends, students that I’ve just heard listened to their stories and experiencing burnout, even experiencing symptoms like stomach pains, or I had talked to someone about, you know, how she had gotten Bell’s Palsy from stress, and I love that you called this a crucial conversation because it’s one that I think we, we allowed ourselves to not have. We just assumed maybe it would fix itself. Maybe they would do something outside of it, but now the burden kind of does come into the workforce. And that’s part of the work that you do. You go into organizations, and I’m curious, how do you initially educate them to help them understand the importance of the work that you’re doing and why we need to have that wellness program?

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

Well, thank you, Jenn, for asking that. You know, I think operations, as for many organizations, have shifted for us in the pandemic. I was traveling 150,000, 200,000 domestic US miles a year as a keynote speaker prior to this. And then companies would bring me on to largely work with our executive leadership team, with my programs to, you know you know, deal with the stress-related illnesses and help with mindful leadership. So that’s initially what I was doing. And now here came the pandemic and we carefully spent the last year now virtually working with over 120 teams. And I went back and thought a traditional neuropsychology test that’s validated, which we call the Busy Brain test, will give you a link to include your audience. And we looked at the data like what was happening now during the pandemic. And the results are shocking! Over 82% of people on average that take our tests have not only high levels of stress. We call it “brain strain” on the risk of burnout.

So that now your stress levels are so high that it’s correlating with poor memory, poor mood, and poor physical symptoms. And people just think, well, isn’t everybody stressed in the pandemic, but I’m here to say the Brain Shift protocol- what we’ve developed is the solution. And so now teams are calling us and working virtually, we typically introduce the program and talk about stress-related illness and solutions and the Busy Brain, you know, virtually just like you, and I are doing on a virtual keynote or a virtual workshop. And then we have a six to eight-week virtual live wellness program where people are going through it with me as if you just came to the doctor’s office and I’m giving you personalized attention, but it’s all happening virtually and with our robust technology platform. So that’s how, in a nutshell, we have changed operations because I can’t wait for the country’s borders to open up, office buildings, open up, you know, as you and I record this, every country where you have listeners is in various stages of lockdown, various stages of vaccination rates here in the US it’s really variable that people will go back to the office this year, or maybe a hybrid model. So we have to meet people where they are, and that’s what we’re doing. We are delivering the Brain Shift protocol virtually now.

Anxiety, Insomnia, Attention Disorder and the Busy Brain

Jenn DeWall:

Can you tell me a little bit more about the Brain Shift protocol? What, how do you help the organizations? Because I definitely want to hear more and help our audience recognize that there are solutions out there that you can start doing right now. You don’t have to wait, you know, they can be virtual. And so can you tell me a little bit more about the Brain Shift protocol?

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

Yeah. The Brain Shift protocol was developed as the cure for the Busy Brain. So I’m going to back up, and can I explain the Busy Brain to you? Let me tell you, the target people I love working with Jenn are people just like you and me. We are unapologetic success-driven professionals, right? You don’t want to be told to slow down, or you’re going to run over me. And that’s true, right? What we find at Busy Brain, and my now last five years of working with teams all over the world is this phenomenon that I boldly will say after researching that neurology and psychiatry have gone wrong. Anxiety or feeling anxious, ADHD, and insomnia are not three separate diseases. They’re all the same side of the one coin. They all have the same mechanism in the brain rooted in a specific pattern of inflammation. So what does that mean? You wake up kind of like, Ooh, girl, don’t even talk to me until I get some caffeine. And I’m going to tell Dr. Romie, it was a cup of coffee, but really it was three energy drinks, right? Yes. And you’re already scrolling and trolling on your phone before you even get out of bed. Right. And then you kind of get to your workday. And you’re like, and there are all these browser windows open, my to-do list is multiplying. There’s this low-level anxiety building. So you keep caffeinating, and you really can’t focus. There’s like this multimedia world. I mean, look at you and I recording this. I’ve got three devices open right now. Like this is normal work from home life.

And so you’re in front of these screens all day and all this low-level anxiety of this, and you’re wired, and you’re tired. And you’re like, finally, when I can finally shut it down at night, I’m going to take a glass of wine or craft beer to take the edge off. I’ll fall asleep, and you go to try to fall asleep. And there is an insane marathon of conversations running in your mind, arguing with one another. And you think you’ve just done, like lost your mind. And it’s not. It’s all the same thing. And I call that the Busy Brain, and that’s not normal. And there’s a way to undo that. And instead, restore sanity, be focused, and sleep. And most of all, with a team, when we’re virtual have a sense of connection. And that’s what the Brain Shift protocol is. It gets at the root cause Jenn of your, and my Busy Brain.

So even though I’m working with hundreds of executives or employees virtually at a time, our system of the Brain Shift protocol takes you through, you know, a battery that assesses your stress. And week by week, we do these Brain Shifts that you and I can talk about in a second, that over time, these small changes result in amazing transformations in six to eight weeks. And we stop the Busy Brain. And that’s what’s been so exciting to watch. We’ve taken several teams through it. And it’s just really humbling to watch. And, you know, I, I basically call Brain Shift is the cure to like, you don’t want another next level, basic advice like, Oh, Jenn, just have some berries and breathe. Everything’s gonna be fine. Like, nobody wants to hear that. I’m guessing everybody listening to this podcast is already pretty healthy. You have a few cheat days. The last thing you need as a brain doctor, all up in here going have some salmon, Oh, deep breaths. Like we’ve been there, we’re in a pandemic. My brain is on fire. Put it out. Where’s the extinguisher? I don’t need no more berries.

Jenn DeWall:

That’s exactly it. And if you feel like you need to eat right. I’m like, okay, because I feel like you saw inside my brain. And I imagine you saw inside to other people’s experiences of that Busy Brain. And I forget the third one. So is anxiety, insomnia, and what was the third one?

ADD- attention deficit disorder or difficulty focusing. Screen-induced ADD. And so, yeah, that’s, that’s what the Busy Brain is. And that’s not normal. Most people I meet are in their late thirties, forties, fifties, mostly forties and fifties, a little older than you, Jenn. I’m aging myself. Now, like one of my elders, but you know, they think it’s just, Oh, Romie. My brain is aging. I’m not as sharp as I used to be when I was in college or graduate school. But I’m here to say, like when I follow my own advice and do the Brain Shift protocol regularly. I’m cognitively sharper today in my mid-forties than I was when I graduated medical school in my early twenties. Wow. And that is the impact. So can we talk about what a Brain Shift is?

What is a Brain Shift?

Jenn DeWall:

Yes, And can I just make one comment on that? I love what you’re sharing because it makes you feel like this is something that we can control. I know that sometimes for me, and we talked about this briefly, but like I have multiple sclerosis. So when I forget something, I’m like, okay, maybe that’s just the MS. But yet I, what I don’t take into consideration is the fact that I am overly scheduled. I’ve got way too many methods of communication I have and suffer from the Busy Brain. And so I think it’s always easy. And maybe there’s someone else listening too, that likes to attribute it to something else that maybe is beyond their control to some extent. But I love that you’re, you’re giving me power and hope in the sense that like, I can control this, so yes, let’s talk about it, but thank you for that.

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

Absolutely Jenn, so just in case somebody with MS is listening and they’re gonna be like, wait, Dr. Romie is Brain Shift for me? Well, maybe kinda, sorta not really. MS is a neurodegenerative disorder. And thank you for sharing. And I hold the intention that you’re on your healing path. There are other underlying root causes of inflammation that we tackle in our MS patients and integrative medicine protocols to help people be well. There’s a different pathology or something different happening in the cells in the brain when someone has MS. When we’re talking about Busy Brain, there is an entirely different system of chemicals that are just having an angry fraternity party in your brain. Yes, and so that’s what brings, but Brain Shift was this. I was like, okay, the last thing people want, I’m going to get on their nerves. Right? We said we’re not going to do berries and breathe. But I was like, what am I going to do?

A Brain Shift is a micro habit. It’s a small change you make that creates this big shift in the perspective of your mood, your memory, and your physical health. So it’s a program that builds upon itself and micro habits that are tailored for every individual. And the results are amazing. We, I serve as chief wellness officer, and we’ll talk about this at evolution hospitality. And we just took a few hundred of their top executives through the program. And it’s, it’s humbling. You know, somebody who had gained 30 pounds in the pandemic over the last year, he turned around and on the live call said, I’ve already lost 10 pounds. And the weight is dropping off, and I don’t have to give up comfort food. Other people were like, well, I was doing it. I wasn’t sure it was working. But then, all of a sudden, I was like, Oh yeah, I’m not anxious anymore.

And my spouse is now saying, Oh, you’re much more tolerable working from home, you know? And the results have been amazing. I think the most common thing is people say they’re sleeping soundly and they’re waking up feeling in control of their day, rather than letting a mobile phone control you. Yeah. And I think that has been the biggest benefit. So it’s just tiny little micro habits that we adapt to. The first part of it looks at restoration, restoring your sanity, restoring your sleep. The second part is about energy, how we’re fueling our brains and our bodies, and focusing. And then the last part is fostering a sense of connection because, gosh, we want to feel engaged and feel like a team. And I think the several teams that we’ve taken through it already said, Oh, wow. Like I have never felt so close to my team members, even though we were all sitting in our own living rooms, you know, or bedrooms doing this. And so that’s the three components you feel restored, you feel vitality or energy and a sense of connection with your team members that are on the call with you. I feel really honored to be doing this.

Jenn DeWall:

Oh my gosh. I feel like I want in. What are some signs? What are some signs that you would say to maybe an executive or a leader to be able to say, I think your team is very much on the verge of the brink of burnout? What are the things that you look for?

Leaders Need to Listen For The Stories

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

Yeah. So when we go in to do an assessment, and I sit down and talk with leadership teams, this used to be in person, and now it’s virtually. One of the things we do is administer the Busy Brain Test. That’s for free on my website. People can go to it and take it. When they see that the majority of their employees have high-stress levels, which is above a 30, but most of them are in that brain strain burnout category already. That’s a validated neuropsychology test. You know, you have a problem. Then the second thing they tell me is, well, we’ve been giving out the EAP number, employee assistance program, which many companies in the US have some global companies as well, or we got a mindfulness app, but you know, we’ve had less than 10% engagement on it.

And then the third thing is you start hearing stories you never heard before. My biggest advice to any leader is to listen for the stories. These are the stories that someone who you barely knew in the company, or maybe you knew, and you thought they had it all pulled together like Dr. Romie walking in her stilettos underneath a white coat, all of a sudden, the stories start to come out. Hmm. I think something is wrong with me. A family member just died of COVID. I think I might be getting a divorce. I haven’t been sleeping. I am failing my children with virtual schooling. My teenager stopped talking to me. When you start hearing the stories, it’s already to the point of beyond just saying, we’re going to institute a wellness program. It’s time for a cultural movement. And I’d like to say Brain Shift is a great example. We don’t just deliver engaging programs. We are here to push a cultural movement based on wellness that tackles your cognition, which is your brainpower, your mental health, and your physical wellbeing. And we want to do it together because we want those stories to transform.

Jenn DeWall:

I appreciate that. The work that you do is more— I would say— accessible. I think I’ve been a part of, as an employee, part of many different wellness initiatives at various companies. And some, I think it worked better than others, but really none of them stuck. I feel the, you know, maybe if you got an incentive of paying for a gym membership, you were like, okay, I’m going to do that, but you didn’t necessarily go to the gym, but you had the membership or, you know, I’m trying to think of, I’ve also had the apps too, that I just, you know, never use. So I appreciate that you talk about micro habits like this. Something like, how can we start slowly? Because we know it’s easy to go back into our old ways. And I appreciate that you really focus on taking a slower pace. And I appreciate you also bringing up to all the leaders here, start to listen to your stories. Because at that point in time, if you’re missing these stories, you might not be able to assist, or you may miss an opportunity to assess someone or your organization. And therefore, you might have more burnout or turnover.

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

Less engagement. I mean, you don’t want to lose employees. You know, you, you don’t want something devastating to happen because it’s no longer about your work or personal life. Jenn, for most people, isn’t it for folks that work from home, those boundaries were long ago broken, and your brain needs boundaries. My brain needs boundaries. Your brain is not a bulletin board, and you just can’t keep throwing stuff at it all day between virtual schooling, your children, all the screens open, and all the different methods of communication. You try to sneak in family time or a walk around the neighborhood. And then, all of a sudden, after dinner, if you put your kids to bed or you’re caring for elderly relatives, now you open up your screen, and you’re working until you drop from exhaustion, your brain needs boundaries. And once we put those boundaries in place with the Brain Shift protocol in your brain, everything else around you starts to shift. Your health, the health of your relationships. And most of all, like the bottom line and in a company. Like nobody wants to lose their workforce right now.

Jenn DeWall:

Right. And it’s, it’s easy, I mean, I know if I have a friend that just left the job because of burnout, it was unsustainable. And they were the same ones that went to the doctor because they noticed these symptoms of stomach pains that all came from stress, and they lost him. And then, on that same day, they also lost another person. And so that was their entire department. And both of them left for the exact same reason because they were burnt out. And now that organization is left to say. We have to quickly get someone on. And I’m sure that that onboarding experience is going to be that much more strenuous because they will have a higher expectation of this work that has been missing.

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

It is. But here’s the thing is, you know, everybody is in crisis mode right now. So you’re having to replace employees. And then you’re just in that burn and churn cycle again, churning it a day out, day in until they burn out again. And you’re in that same cycle. We need to get down to the root cause of it. And that’s a Busy Brain, and nobody is immune. I mean, I’m a brain doctor and went through it. I mean, Jenn, really, nobody is immune in this pandemic, you know, from your frontline worker and our hourly wage workers, that evolution hospitality all up to the C-suite. We are all suffering in different ways, and I want to provide hope and that sense of connection again.

Busy Brain Can Affect Workers at All Levels

Jenn DeWall:

That is really important. That’s a really important piece to note. I think that sometimes we when we think about burnout, or we think about who would be the most exposed, we might incorrectly just place that burden on the people that might have more senior leadership roles. So I appreciate you also talking about that. It happens at all levels. You can’t look at it as, Oh, they have that title of VP, or they’re the COO. So they’re the ones that are justified in their burnout, and the frontline employees, well, they’re probably fine because of their stress levels. They don’t have to report to shareholders or to the board, or something like that. So I appreciate you really talking about that. This is an organizational-wide effort. This is something at every single level. It’s not just something for your higher-level C-Suite. It’s for everyone.

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

It is, you know, there used to be this, never let them see you sweat mentality in academic medicine and certainly in the C-suite you leave your personal life at home. You said that at the top of the podcast, right? And that no longer exists. It’s if you’re going to be listening for the stories of your colleagues and your employees, there’s a level of vulnerability and authenticity that needs to show up and that gritting your teeth and saying everything’s just fine. No longer serves as a leader. You’re failing as a leader when you’re not showing up authentically when your brain is on fire. And you’re trying to present icy, calm, and cold, and there is a disconnect, and people can feel it from you. You’re trying to be calm and cool. But your brain’s on fire. Trust me, everybody knows. Don’t try to hide it anymore. And guess what, Jenn, it can show through the video camera too.

Jenn DeWall:

Why is it that people think you can’t? Cause I still think people are like, I’ve got it. You got it. Well, first, my comment is I love your comment, because when I was 20- 20 something, the feedback that I got is Jenn, never let them see you sweat.

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

And they say that to women a lot more, right? Because we’re entering a man’s world. Never let them see you, sweat. That was the way you survive medical school and internship and residency and two fellowships now three, right? Never let them see you sweat. And that’s where mindfulness has played a role that when I can calm my mind, then I can be in tune, and being mindful, by the way, is not just throwing pixie dust on the problem. I think, remember I said, this ain’t about berries and breathing.

You know, being authentic can be like, Hey Jenn, leading right up to our interview. I was a little frazzled. There were multiple emails coming in from one of my team members, and something needed to be handled. Like that’s authentic to say, Oh, at this moment, I’m feeling frazzled and what you all didn’t get to see before we hit the record button is I showed up frazzled. Jenn was a little, we went through a mindfulness exercise that took under three minutes, and we’re both just focused and present here. Right? And so it’s okay to have moments where, Oh my God, my brain is on fire. I’m like, you know, Busy Brain Level 10 hell. You know? So we got it. We got it. And it’s okay.

The Busy Brain and Brain Shift Protocol

Jenn DeWall:

Thank you for even acknowledging that for people to say, I appreciate that you used it with the word authenticity. Like if you want to truly connect with people, be honest when you have the Busy Brain, and maybe this is a good segue into those right now that are like, I have the Busy Brain. What do I do? Please get to something to, you know, get to serenity now!

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

So here’s the number one rule. You’re talking to a brain doctor. I, Jenn, and I have labeled a bunch of symptoms. And if any of those are like, Oh my God, guilty, guilty. You’re leaning into this podcast. Or you may be in denial. Just don’t throw your phone across the room at the wall as you listen to us. That’s a symptom of a Busy Brain— anger boils up sometimes when your brain is on fire, don’t do that. Here’s my rule is we assess, we don’t guess our stress levels. So, assess, don’t guess. Guessing is going to Google and saying help. What do I do about, and you can, we all just talk about the AI algorithms of Google. Jenn, let me tell you what if, if I put in stress relief in my Google search right now, we would either end up with ads for high heel shoes or where dark chocolate is sold. What would your algorithm show? Right. Okay. The Jaguar dealership, you know, the latest, beautiful blouses on sale.

I mean, no, no, no. Google is not your friend in this situation. No offense to Google. We’ve introduced Brain Shift at Google, but you know, the idea is as assess, don’t guess your stress. So we have a free, Busy Brain test on my website. We will include the link in the show notes here for you all, where we give you the same test that we give our corporate clients. When they hire me to speak or consult with their teams, we give you a number. And then, based on that number, Jenn, I give you a recommendation of where to start, but how do you start? No, I ain’t handing you no app or no gym membership, and none of that bougie stuff that you said didn’t work anyway, right? We know what we’re giving you is these Brain Shifts to do.

And either could you give me three minutes during the daytime or 30 minutes at night? And we break down what we want you to start doing. And we give you as a gift. The first seven days of our Brain Shift protocol-free on my website, I’m committed. Right? And I want to be mindful that not everybody works in a large company that can afford to hire my team and myself. So whatever we can do to give back, we are in a pandemic. We are building out the resources as you and I do this interview.

Don’t Wear Stress like a Badge of Honor

Jenn DeWall:

My gosh, I appreciate that you’re offering that to our audience, and it will be in our show notes and our bumpers. They’ll have to stay listening to the end to get the information on how to access that because I think we need it right now. I just want to hug everyone, and they may not realize, you know, I think again, what would you say to someone that might be not able to label it? I guess what advice do you have for people that might be—not blissfully unaware, they’re not blissfully unaware— but the people that have a hard time sensing it? To be able to say like, I don’t know. This is just the way the world’s supposed to be. This is just what busy work is.

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

And I would just say this, Jenn, my brothers, and my sisters, I get it. I used to wear it as a badge of honor too, I thought this is the way the world works, you know, succeed at all costs, but there is a way to come off that stress and success cycle. And it’s not a badge of honor to where your stress, but I would almost say a, you know, a dishonor to your brainpower, to your mood, to your body, to your relationships. And it’s okay. Like you’re not alone.

I, for me, Jenn, I think most of it is, is that the intelligent, success-driven professionals I work with just have that mentality of power-through. I’m taking care of my family. I’m taking care of hundreds of thousands of employees. Like I don’t get to stop and give my brain a break. And I’m here to offer you a solution. I think most of it, having been there myself, it’s a lonely feeling. And now, on top of it, we’re in a pandemic where people are physically distanced and socially isolated, and that adds another level to it. And so my message to you is I’ve been there personally, and you’re not alone. And if any of the symptoms I said to resonate with you, or you think you see it in your team, reach out, like I want to be of service. I didn’t make it out of that eight-and-a-half-hour surgery with the cardiothoracic surgery team at the University of Washington, Seattle, not to come and be of service and help other people in need. And if you can hear it from a triple board-certified doctor who serves as the chief wellness officer now, as none of us are immune to a Busy Brain. And there is hope.

Jenn DeWall:

Oh my gosh, Dr. Rami, thank you so much for just joining us on the podcast. And thank you for also leaving us with a message of hope that you know. What I took away from your closing message is that you’re not alone, and you don’t have to struggle alone either, that there is hope that you can live life differently. You do not have to wear stress as a badge of honor, and there are options. And we’re going to give you one of the links to be able to get started. But I just appreciate the message of hope because if I think of where I was two weeks ago, I needed that I needed to hear, and I still am coming down from a massive burnout thing. And I need to hear hope because I think it’s hard to feel like you can even start to manage it, and you give an intentional offering in a way that we can develop micro habits to make this a sustainable behavior change. Dr. Romie, thank you so much for being on the show!

Dr. Romie Mushtaq:

It’s an honor to be here, and everybody, let’s start to Brain Shift. We can get through this together.

Jenn DeWall:

I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode with Dr. Romie. It was so for me. Just great to hear that there are solutions out there solutions that can help us manage burnout. And as she said many times throughout the podcast, you can get her Busy Brain test for free. All you to do is go to Dr.Romie.Com\test, or you can find the link in our show notes. If you enjoy today’s podcast, or if you know someone that could benefit from hearing this message, maybe they’re struggling from burnout, or they have an increase in anxiety or insomnia. These all could be things that maybe you could help a friend with just by sharing this podcast. And of course, if you enjoyed today’s episode, don’t forget to leave us a review on your favorite podcast streaming service. Until next time.

The post Managing Your Busy Brain with Chief Wellness Officer, Dr. Romie Mushtaq, MD, ABIHM appeared first on Crestcom International.

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