Oct. 17, 2022

Mindfulness Strategies To Calm Stress And Anxiety With Dr. Cindy Tsai

Mindfulness Strategies To Calm Stress And Anxiety With Dr. Cindy Tsai

Mindfulness Strategies To Calm Stress And Anxiety With Dr. Cindy Tsai

Dr. Cindy Tsai is a board-certified physician, bestselling author, mindfulness teacher, speaker, and life coach who is committed to helping high-achievers live their best life with ease. She earned BA and MS degrees from Johns Hopkins University and MD degree from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. 

As a physician and patient, Dr. Tsai saw and experienced the impact of chronic stress on the body and was compelled to do more than prescribe medications as a bandaid. Through her own healing journey, she explored and trained in a wide range of solution-oriented therapeutic modalities and now emphasizes taking an integrative approach to wellness. 

As author of the bestselling book, "So Much Better: Life-Changing Strategies to Develop Calm, Confidence, and Curiosity to Become an Inspiring Success Story", she introduces a radical path to well-being, through creating the Inspiring Success Story MethodTM. This method offers clients a diverse range of mind-body-spirit techniques to expand the possibilities of achieving their dreams. 

Dr. Tsai is an award-winning physician who has been nationally recognized, featured and published in a range of media including mindbodygreen, US News, Doximity, KevinMD, Medium, and more. She is grateful to share her expertise and passion to guide as many as possible in the journey of self-discovery to recognize the importance of self-care as a wellness practice to lead and enjoy a life of ease.

Link to Dr. Tsai’s book (https://www.cindytsaimd.com/book or https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09Y4W1JNL?&_encoding=UTF8&tag=cindytsaim0b9-20) and a picture as well.

Dr. Tsai also has a free resource guide to "Create Your Own Calm" for those who are interested: https://cindytsaimd.com/calm and all Dr. Tsai's social media platforms are @cindytsaimd (linkedin, instagram, fb, twitter, tiktok, youtube).  

 

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Transcript

[00:00:00] John Cordray: So many of you who listen to the show often wonder about what are some specific strategies, and I talk about mindfulness a lot, and I talk about different tools. But what are some specific strategies? And, so I am really excited about this episode because I have a special guest who is a board-certified physician, and she specializes in mindfulness.

[00:00:25] John Cordray: And so in this episode, Is titled, Mindfulness Strategies to Calm Stress and Anxiety with Dr. Cindys coming up, Oh, 

[00:00:35] John Cordray: Welcome back to The Mental Health Today Show. My name is John Cordray and I am a licensed therapist and I am the host of this show, and I am so happy that you're here and that you're choosing to listen to the show.

[00:00:48] John Cordray: And you're gonna want to pay attention and maybe even write some notes down to Let me introduce the, my guest for today. Her name is Dr. Cindy Si. She is a board [00:01:00] certified physician, a best selling author. A mindfulness teacher, speaker, and life coach who is committed to helping high achievers live the best life with ease.

[00:01:11] John Cordray: She earned a BA in an MS degrees from John Hopkins University at an MD degree from Gazelle School of Medicine in Dartmouth. As a physician and patient, Drs. Saw and experienced the impact of chronic stress on the body. It was compelled to do more than prescribed medications as a bandaid. Ooh, I love that.

[00:01:33] John Cordray: Through her own healing journey, she explored in, trained in a wide range of solution oriented therapeutic modalities, and now emphasizes taking an integrative approach to wellness. As an author in the best-selling book, so much Better life changing strategies to develop Calm confidence and curiosity to become an inspiring success story.

[00:01:57] John Cordray: She introduces a radical path to [00:02:00] wellbeing through creating the inspiring success story method. This method offers clients a diverse range of mind, body, spirit techniques to expand the possibilities of achieving their dreams. Dr. SA is an award-winning physician who has been nationally recognized, featured, and published in a range of media, including Mind, Body Green, US News Dem, if I can say that right?

[00:02:26] John Cordray: You have an MD Medium and more. She is grateful to share her expertise and passion to guide as many as possible in a journey of self discovery. To recognize the importance of self care as a wellness practice to lead and enjoy a life of ease. Dr. S welcome to the show. 

[00:02:48] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Thank you so much for having me, John.

[00:02:49] Dr. Cindy Tsai: I'm excited to be here. Well, 

[00:02:51] John Cordray: I am excited about you being here because I do talk a lot and have talked over the years about strategies and, and [00:03:00] lots of people who listen to this struggle with anxiety and most people struggle with stress, and so I'm really excited about learning about some of the tools and techniques and strategies that you have developed and that you talk about, I'm sure in your book as well.

[00:03:18] John Cordray: But before we get to that, I would love to know your story. How did you become a board certified physician? And then from there, how did you be involved and get involved with the mindful wellness strategies that you have developed? 

[00:03:36] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Sure. I'm happy to talk about that my, my story and journey. So thank you for asking.

[00:03:43] Dr. Cindy Tsai: So I was always very health conscious. Ever since I was young and I was passionate about, I was fascinated by the human body and I wanted to be healthy. My dad was a surgeon, so medicine was, was all [00:04:00] around me when I was growing up. And I wanted to help people be healthy and well. So I thought being a doctor was a great way to do that, right?

[00:04:09] Dr. Cindy Tsai: to to help people. And so I worked really hard going to all the top schools, did all the training. And along the way, of course, as you're familiar, medical training, training in any type of professional field, it's, it's a long journey and , there's a lot of stress and all of that. And so along the way I definitely experienced a lot of stress and some burnout.

[00:04:39] Dr. Cindy Tsai: I had some health conditions, some issues that really forced me to slow down. and I say that just imagine waking up one day and not being able to see and oh wow. That's what happened to me. To really go from healthy to sick overnight. It was just [00:05:00] a total wake up call and I, you know, when I got sick, I was forced to slow down to listen to my body and realizing that our body has its own intelligence, right?

[00:05:13] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And we need to pay attention to these messages. And so I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition that impacted my eyes, that could have led to full blindness. And I started treatment right away with all the serious medications, the steroids, and immunosuppressants, and grateful that I did, and, and, you know, was able to get care and my vision recovered.

[00:05:38] Dr. Cindy Tsai: But I knew that the underlying problem was still there. Like I knew that it was, there was inflammation in the body and I didn't want to just put a bandaid on with, you know, a temporary quick fix. And so I learned to give myself permission to become my own best health advocate [00:06:00] and to really explore all the possibilities to get better.

[00:06:04] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And came across the field of integrative medicine, which is a field of medicine that incorporates many healing modalities from like western, eastern, traditional, complimentary, all the things, and just really learning and, and just knowing that we are all on our own journeys. And I think in my own healing journey, because I was always very curious and exploring all the different.

[00:06:31] Dr. Cindy Tsai: It really inspired me to focus more on prevention, on wellness, on these, enhancing the mind body connection, and really helping people better manage stress and stay healthy, stay well, so that they don't have to be getting to the point of like a health crisis to finally start taking care of themselves.

[00:06:57] John Cordray: Well, what I really like about that [00:07:00] is you're talking about your own. Life and yourself. Mm-hmm. and how stress really affected you, even as a doctor. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , and, Oh, well, I, I probably should say especially that you're a doctor. Mm-hmm. , because that stress can really interfere with, especially a doctor's.

[00:07:20] John Cordray: Life because of the, the, the lifestyle that you chose to help others. And so that can really have an impact on your life. And so I appreciate you sharing that. Mm-hmm. , and also a big reason why you're so committed to mindfulness strategies. Mm-hmm. , because it, you're, you're talking about things that you have applied to your life.

[00:07:44] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Definitely. I think along the way I've always. Been very interested in learning the latest science, the research, but also the newest developments, [00:08:00] whether it be technology, you know, the wearable devices, whatever, because it's a lot more practical and relevant to our every day. Right? , I, I think a lot of times with the research and data, Yes, it's helpful, but it's also how do you bring that into your every day, right?

[00:08:22] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Because we all lead busy lives, and it was important for me to learn techniques and strategies to help myself stay grounded and to be able to share these. Tools with clients, with patients and students so that they can really integrate it into their busy lives, right? Cause it's one thing to be able to stay calm when you're on vacation, right?

[00:08:50] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Like, I think that's . I think that's a lot easier, versus when you're in the midst of, right, it's like back, you know, whether your kids are going back [00:09:00] to school and then you have three deadlines and like, you know, all this other stuff going on. So I think. I always make sure to try different things out myself.

[00:09:12] Dr. Cindy Tsai: See what works. And, and I think it's also just so helpful to know that there are so many options available, 

[00:09:18] John Cordray: right? Yeah, you, you're exactly right. Most people have what I call complex stress. And it's stress upon stress upon stress, and it, it could be stress from work and maybe multiple different deadlines, as you mentioned.

[00:09:32] John Cordray: Mm-hmm. , it could be family stress, maybe there's a, a child that is struggl. Emotionally or physically. Mm-hmm. Or a spouse. Mm-hmm. . And that creates added stress. And then, and then what happens is more stress comes the car breaks down. Right. A, a, a loved one dies. Yes. And these are things that are beyond our control.

[00:09:53] John Cordray: Mm-hmm. . So our bodies natural, natural reaction to stress is to rev up [00:10:00] mm-hmm. and to protect itself. And a lot of times it's, you know, I'm speaking. To the choir here, you know all about this, but those who are listening, the stress, when it causes prolonged stress can cause the cortisol to, to flow in your body.

[00:10:14] John Cordray: Mm-hmm. , and that's a stress hormone that we should have. Mm-hmm. , but sometimes the stress it over overdoes it and it can affect our body. 

[00:10:22] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Yeah. And I'm glad you brought that up, John, because I, I think sometimes we have this idea that we don't wanna be under any. And I think the a helpful perspective is to see that stress is important and helpful, right?

[00:10:39] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Because our bodies are meant to adapt and to respond and to really help us get through things. But I think the concern is when this stress becomes chronic, right? Yes. Because then you're constantly, Activating your fight or flight [00:11:00] stress response. A sympathetic nervous system, which leads to mental and physical experiences of stress when people may see things like poor sleep, irritability, hormone imbalances, pain, like all of these things that are pretty undesirable, right?

[00:11:19] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And so we wanna look more upstream to see what is going on and see how we can switch that off. So people don't get affected by the negative experiences. 

[00:11:30] John Cordray: Yeah. A absolutely. So we all function and should have a certain level of stress, just like you said. Mm-hmm. . And that's what that keeps us motivated.

[00:11:40] John Cordray: Mm-hmm. . But when that is over stress and it can lead into anxiety and a lot of other physical problems like you mentioned. Mm-hmm. Insomnia being. That I, that comes to my mind. I, I speak to a lot of clients who really, they don't get much sleep and it's not because they don't want to sleep, it's because they can't fall asleep or [00:12:00] they wake up and it it because of their stress and their anxiety.

[00:12:03] John Cordray: It's just an overdrive. Mm-hmm. . So let's, let's talk about this. What are some strategies that you recommend. Maybe you've tried 'em yourself or that you've talked to your patients. What are some practical mindfulness strategies to help calm stress and anxiety? 

[00:12:22] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Sure. So I want to first start with a simple definition of mindfulness of how I see mindfulness, and so I, I talk about mindfulness as this process of paying attention.

[00:12:36] Dr. Cindy Tsai: To the present moment without judgment. Hmm. I like that. And it sounds simple, , but if you really break it down, there are several important components. So, you know, paying attention, like really actively directing your focus to the present moment, like whatever's happening right now. And that means you're right now in this moment, in like at [00:13:00] this time, not.

[00:13:02] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Worrying about the future or replaying your past. Right. A lot of times people may think they're, they have this active mind going indefinitely. I see it a lot with people who are dealing with sleep issues, where they're like, Oh, I can't turn off my mind and I have so much going on. You know, I'm, I'm making my list to for tomorrow, and all these things.

[00:13:26] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Mm-hmm. , and it's just a reminder that okay, you know, you think. You're focused, but your mind is actually not really in the present anymore, right? You're like already planning days, weeks in advance, or replaying moments in the past that you know, maybe you're thinking about what you should or shouldn't have said and whatnot.

[00:13:46] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And so that is an important component. And then the last part about. Without judgment, I think is so much easier set than done. . Mm-hmm. , right. I think we have, [00:14:00] it's just an innate tendency to want to really put our own filter and lens on things. And so when I say without judgment, it means to really learn how to become that, that neutral observer to really observe and to experience without determining if it.

[00:14:21] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Or labeling it as good or bad. Hmm. And so I, I like to just bring that definition up just so people are, are aware of how I see mindfulness and how, and that mindfulness is not just about paying attention, Right. It's about like how we pay attention. And I think the first thing is, you know, especially.

[00:14:47] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Around stress and anxiety. A lot of times I find that people haven't really taken the time to even notice like, what does stress feel like in my body? [00:15:00] Right? Like, where does anxiety live in my body? And a, I think when it's because we're so trained and conditioned to. Constantly be on the go and the world we're in right now, it's a, it's a very busy and noisy world.

[00:15:22] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Mm-hmm. . And I think we have a tendency to go on autopilot because especially when things are going fine, it's like, okay, yeah, you know, this is the time I wake up, the time, the how I go to work and, you know, pick up the kids, like whatever it is. And so, A lot of times I find that we haven't given ourselves permission and the just the time and space to even think about what is stress, right, Until maybe we are past a certain point, and that's why I [00:16:00] see a lot of patients come in with health crises sometimes.

[00:16:05] Dr. Cindy Tsai: I think that's oftentimes, unfortunately, What it takes for some people to really slow down and pay attention, right? To be like, Oh, okay, well this is not working right. I can't keep working till 10:11 PM every night and like only sleep for five hours and drink free cups of coffee to stay awake. And you know, it's not sustainable.

[00:16:29] Dr. Cindy Tsai: So I think the first part is really understanding mindfulness, that it's a process. And it also starts with awareness, right? Of just paying attention to what's going on and what's to, so that you actually, it's a very active process because when you actually can see what's going on and not get triggered or frustrated, you can be in a very rational place and consciously decide [00:17:00] what you wanna do about.

[00:17:02] Dr. Cindy Tsai: As opposed to just reacting to, you know, the circumstance or whatever's coming up. That makes sense. 

[00:17:09] John Cordray: Yeah. And, and I like how you phrased that instead of reactive in waiting for your body to tell you something's wrong. Mm-hmm. mindfulness is a lot of. Being proactive and preventative. Mm-hmm. and, and listening to your body.

[00:17:25] John Cordray: And, and really what I mean by that is, are you having heart palpitations? Mm-hmm. , is your eye twitch? Yeah. I know when I get stressed my eye twitches. And, and it's irritating because it twitches on its own and won't go away. . Yeah. So, so it, so we wanna be mindful of our body. Maybe it's your stomach issues, right?

[00:17:48] John Cordray: Yeah, exactly. Headaches and, and shoulder. So yeah, listening to your body is so important. 

[00:17:54] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Yeah. It's really noticing when you're not being mindful, right? Like, when is your heart [00:18:00] racing? Are you sweating? Right? And, and I think it's reminding people that our minds and bodies are connected. As one. Okay. . It's not like we have a mind on one side and the body's like totally disconnected and, and I think that that's why when you have stressful thoughts in your mind, it actually comes through in physical and emotional experiences in the body.

[00:18:25] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And so I think it's a good reminder to really take a moment to. Sit with it and experience it. And I think a lot of times it's hard because we don't really talk about this, right. We don't learn about this in school, . That's right. I think when, when something comes up when we're frustrated, I, I feel like we don't necessarily have a lot of tools and techniques to deal with it and to process it, and then it can just stay.

[00:18:58] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Stuck [00:19:00] inside of us, we kind of try to distract, avoid, or just disregard. Dismiss it. But I think you and I both know that when you don't look at the root cause and the problem, it's, it's still there. Right. . It's gonna keep 

[00:19:15] John Cordray: growing. Yeah. It's not gonna go anywhere. It's the fact that it, it'll just get me worse and worse.

[00:19:20] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Right. Exactly. 

[00:19:21] John Cordray: Right. So what would be, what would be a, a few practical strategies. Mm-hmm. for mindfulness. 

[00:19:27] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Mm-hmm. . So one of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness is through breathing. And I like to talk about breathing because so often we take it for granted where we are constantly breathing, but we don't even really pay attention to our breath.

[00:19:49] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And so even just doing. I can share a couple simple breathing techniques that I like. Yes, please do. . So a simple one is called the [00:20:00] cleansing breath, where you literally just take an inhale through your nose and then you exhale through an open mouth, si. Oh hmm. And then just with do a couple more at your own pace.

[00:20:16] Dr. Cindy Tsai: With every inhale, feel your chest expand. Nourishing your body with oxygen and then with every exhale, just release, letting go of any stress or tension you're holding onto. And so this is one of my favorite breathing techniques and it's so simple and quick and easy. . 

[00:20:42] John Cordray: Yeah. Cause I'll say I just did it myself.

[00:20:44] John Cordray: Yeah. It's really good. 

[00:20:45] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Yeah. And, and I think a lot of times people have these, this idea that. It has to be really complicated for it to work, right? , And I always like to say that, yes, of [00:21:00] course there are many very elaborate techniques and fancy things and whatever, but at the end of the day, the most, what's most important is that it works for you.

[00:21:12] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And I think that. . That's why I, I like to start with very simple things so that people can get and feel the immediate benefits, right? And then they can really practice it and make it their own. So there's the cleansing breath. And then I also like to share a breathing technique. I mean, there's so many different types of breathing techniques that people are welcome to look into.

[00:21:38] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Like box breathing, 4, 7, 8. Four, six breathing, and we can just do, we can do one of, do the four six breathing technique, which is where you inhale for count of four, and then you exhale through your mouth for count of six. So we can practice that [00:22:00] for a little bit. Yes, let's do it. All right. So just taking a nice inhale through your nose.

[00:22:07] Dr. Cindy Tsai: So inhale 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Inhale, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. You can do a few more at your own pace and the reason this technique and, and some of the other. Breathing techniques where they have you focus on counting is helpful, especially because when we breathe, when we are expanding our chest there.

[00:22:51] Dr. Cindy Tsai: So I mentioned earlier that there's the sympathetic nervous system right in our body that regulates the [00:23:00] stress response, and so there's also it's counterpart, which is the parasympathetic nervous system. And that actually helps with our relaxation response. So it's kind of like, think of it as pressing on the break versus breaks versus the sympathetic system is like pressing on the gas for like all the organs to rev up versus, you know, so it's kind of like they work in encounter to each other.

[00:23:26] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And so one of the most important regulators of this parasympathetic relaxation response is a nerve called the vagus nerve. and it runs from the our brain into our chest cavity. And so I like to share that when we're breathing and when we're taking a deep breath and expanding our lungs and our chest cavity, it actually can help stimulate the vagus nerve endings as it runs through the chest.

[00:23:56] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Cav. And so that helps. That's how it [00:24:00] can help with activating this parasympathetic relaxation response. And that's why we usually feel a lot calmer when we do tote, take those larger, you know, slower deep breaths, those longer exhales and things like that. 

[00:24:15] John Cordray: Yeah. Thank you for kind of explaining kind of the science, the neuroscience behind the breathing.

[00:24:21] John Cordray: I, I think that's important because we're not just talking about taking a break and taking a deep breath. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . This is intentional and and it's for a purpose. And so we wanna activate the good parts of our brain. Yes. And as we do that, our body. Our body can help us. It 

[00:24:42] Dr. Cindy Tsai: really does. And, and I think one thing I, I hope just that people are able to hear and and receive from this is this idea that even if you've been.

[00:24:56] Dr. Cindy Tsai: This very stressed person, right? [00:25:00] Like for your whole life. I, I hear this all the time. People are like, Well, this is how I've always been. Like, you know, I'm, I'm Type A, like whatever, whatever. I'm always on the go. I just can't relax. And, and then I say, Okay, I think it's good that you know, there's awareness of how, how you've been, right, like your patterns and your tendencies.

[00:25:22] Dr. Cindy Tsai: But the beauty of this is that this is a habit and a skill that you can develop in terms of learning to relax, learning to retrain your brain and your nervous system, and to really help you. Stay calm and grounded. And it's just a matter of doing these simple practices like doing, taking some intentional, like cleansing breaths or you know, all these different techniques throughout your day so that you can interrupt that autopilot, right?

[00:25:58] Dr. Cindy Tsai: That we have this [00:26:00] habit of being in, right? If you just take a moment, set an alarm. And then when the alarm goes off, just take a few breaths to just break, break your pattern and, and retrain your brain and body so that you can feel more calm and be more at ease. 

[00:26:18] John Cordray: Oh, I love that. Great, great tips. Thank you for sharing those.

[00:26:23] John Cordray: I, I wanna, I wanna ask you now about this inspiring success story method. Mm-hmm. . I'm really curious to learn more about that and, and also about the book mm-hmm. that you wrote. 

[00:26:35] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Sure. So the book is called So Much Better, and it is a self-help book that's based in mindfulness. So I definitely share a lot more techniques and tools, exercises in the book.

[00:26:50] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And I wrote the book because after coaching many clients and seeing just their. [00:27:00] All different types of journeys and, and stories. But I realized that I was sharing very similar things, right? And I was like, well, this probably would be helpful to put it together and to organize it in a way that's very accessible to people.

[00:27:15] Dr. Cindy Tsai: So that really was. The reason behind me wanting to write a book and to share. So what it is, is I found that it's really important for people to master three pillars. The three pillars are calm, confidence and curiosity, and basically calm is, So the inspiring success story method is, Having mastery in all three pillars, and so breaking the each pillar down, the calm pillar focuses on regulating your nervous system so that you can be grounded and secure.

[00:27:58] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And we know [00:28:00] that our brains are wired for survival. We're constantly scanning for threats and realizing that. The threats we have today, modern day threats are very different right from, from before. Like we're, the risk of being eaten by a tiger is very low, thankfully, . But then our threats are, are things like maybe requesting a raise or going on a first day, you know?

[00:28:25] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Yeah. Like giving feedback, like all these things, right? Or saying no to a family member, right? Like it's, you know, all these things that could really trigger that fear and stress response. And so, That's really important to develop that, that sense of calm. And so a lot of, you know, like breathing techniques, you know, the mind body work is really helpful for that.

[00:28:46] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And then the second pillar is confidence, which is about developing a strong sense of self-belief. , and this is where you unlearn old programming and rewire the brain. [00:29:00] And we've seen by the research and neuroplasticity that the brain's nerve cells can make new pathways, which is really exciting. Mm-hmm.

[00:29:09] Dr. Cindy Tsai: right? Cause then we can strengthen thoughts, beliefs, habits that we like and. Also let go of the things, the old thought patterns and beliefs that aren't working for us. And so think about it like as when you wanna build tone arms, right? You gotta do more than like two bicep curls. You gotta kind being consistent and, and so it's just about really unlearning, right?

[00:29:40] Dr. Cindy Tsai: The old programming and rewiring the brain. Building that sense of confidence. And then the third pillar, curiosity is about finding creativity and fun and really connecting to your true self and wisdom that you have inside of you. [00:30:00] And I, I find that a lot of times people don't realize or see that we all have our own gifts to share and.

[00:30:10] Dr. Cindy Tsai: I think with growing up with society, with conditioning and all these things, a lot of times we end up a bit disconnected from that part of us. And so it's, we oftentimes maybe doing things or working at a job we don't like and we're not feeling fulfilled and, you know, not happy and so, I think it's really important to bring in that curiosity piece to help you reconnect and really stay grounded to who you are.

[00:30:43] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And so, you know, I think that each of those components are, are important and helpful by themselves, but it really takes all three for you to really become this inspiring success story, right? Cause then you [00:31:00] know how you know where you wanna go, right? You can handle high pressure situations. You believe in yourself, you're having fun and you're connected to who you are.

[00:31:11] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And, and I think that's when. Everything really becomes a lot easier. It's, it's this idea that we can do it with ease. Like it doesn't have to be a lot of work and stress. Right. , which, you know, it's, it's just about kind of unlearning those old beliefs that we've held onto. 

[00:31:34] John Cordray: I love it. So the book title again is called So Much Better.

[00:31:38] John Cordray: Mm-hmm. by Dr. Cindys. Mm-hmm. . So Cindy, I, I know we were talking earlier, you told me that you're getting ready to do a TED Talk. Yes. Could, you could just spend a few seconds on that? I will. I'm just really curious about that. 

[00:31:52] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Yes, I'm really excited to have the honor to be speaking on a TED stage, and the [00:32:00] idea that I'm sharing is that the quick fix is not a fix in terms of our health and wellness especially, and I really want to introduce people to the field of integrative medicine and to know that there are so many options out there available.

[00:32:21] Dr. Cindy Tsai: In that it really, it's important to give yourself permission to really learn how to advocate for yourself, right? And to know that it's not one size fits all. It's not right. Like every, every person, every body is different. So the things you need are different, right? And I think it's, it's about blending the best of all worlds, right?

[00:32:50] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Figuring out what works for you. Having a team of professionals who are really there to listen, who wanna focus on treating the root [00:33:00] cause, and not just putting a bandaid on a symptom because bandaids are quick fix. And I mean, it's not that I'm against bandaids or medications, especially in acute, urgent situations, bandaids are necessary.

[00:33:13] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Like I used one when I first got sick. And of course, please don't stop taking your medications or flush your pills down the toilet without consulting your health professional. But I think it's helpful to just consider, right? It's an invitation to explore. What if there are permanent solutions so that you don't have to keep reaching for the quick fixes and really learning that, you know, it's so important to become your own advocate and don't, don't quit until you find what works for you.

[00:33:45] John Cordray: I love that. Very cool. Congratulations on being able to speak at a TED Talk. That's great. Thank you. So very exciting. So much. I'm excited. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I wanna remind people the, the book that you just talked about and wrote so much [00:34:00] better that we'll put down in the show notes.

[00:34:01] John Cordray: Mm-hmm. . So if you're curious, I would definitely encourage you to add that to your library. But before we end Dr. Cindy something I always talk and talk about and I ask my guest about self-care mm-hmm. , and I'm really curious about what you do for self care. 

[00:34:19] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Yeah. Well, it's interesting because I definitely feel like my selfcare practices have evolved over time.

[00:34:27] Dr. Cindy Tsai: And so I see self care as taking care of and nourishing all parts of your mind, your body, and. So that you can live with ease and really feel and be your best. And so I think for me, Of course, a lot of things people may think about. Regular exercise, sleeping well, eating good food. Also, for me, a lot of alone time and really being [00:35:00] intentional about that and being in meditation, practicing gratitude, all of these things so that.

[00:35:08] Dr. Cindy Tsai: You know, and, and just learning to listen to me, to my body, to my, to me of like, what feels good to me, . And I think it's really, it's nice to hear about other people, like what they do and, and all these things for ideas and inspiration. But I really hope people take away. To give yourself permission to do what feels good to you.

[00:35:34] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Mm-hmm. , you know? Yes. Like there's no one way to do it, and Right. Knowing that depending on where you are in life, right, Different things will work for you. Different things may sound feel better. Like I know people who maybe they've always loved doing CrossFit, and then they're like, Okay, you know what?

[00:35:55] Dr. Cindy Tsai: This is not working for me and it's okay. Yeah, and I think it's, it's [00:36:00] really important to be able to listen to your body and to be like, Okay, you know what? I'm, start doing yoga and like do whatever. That's, it's just taking care of yourself and knowing that it's a process. And I think the other important thing to think about is that, Selfcare doesn't have to be this very extensive, elaborate process.

[00:36:35] Dr. Cindy Tsai: You know, like a, like a silent retreat on a mountain job for 10 days, right? Like, exactly like, you know, it doesn't have to be extreme. It's like, it's the simple things we talked about. It's like taking a few breaths like throughout your day. It's going outside for a walk and like actually looking. You know, like looking at what you see, like observing.

[00:36:59] Dr. Cindy Tsai: [00:37:00] Like another mindfulness exercise I like is called the Five Senses exercise, where you literally just like count down. It's like, okay, you're somewhere, and then you just say like, the five things you see. Okay. Like whatever comes up to you. Four things you feel, three things you hear. Two things you smell and one thing you taste and it's just, you know, it's again, it's like takes like a minute, but even just doing that practice will help you reset and stay grounded and connected and being present and mindful.

[00:37:39] Dr. Cindy Tsai: So I think it's just really learning that make it your own. Every little bit counts and you know, it's, I find that it's much easier to. Refueling throughout your day as opposed to waiting until you're totally depleted and your gas tank is [00:38:00] empty because then you know your car won't even move. So we wanna try to avoid that cuz that's definitely the surest way to burn

[00:38:07] John Cordray: That's exactly right. Well, very good. Thank you. I just wanna thank you for so much for taking some time out of your busy schedule to come on and, and talk to my audience. Specific mindfulness strategies and mm-hmm. , and really a big takeaway for me is we just need to be more mindful of our body. Mm-hmm.

[00:38:26] John Cordray: even during self-care. Mm-hmm. , that's being mindful of our bodies. So really, really good. So if someone wanted to reach out to you, what would be the best way, if they were wanting to know or maybe ask questions or look at some of your other things that you're up. 

[00:38:43] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Yes, definitely. So my website is a great starting point.

[00:38:48] Dr. Cindy Tsai: It's cindy c md.com and I post a lot of content blogs there. And I'm also quite active on social media, on the various platforms at Cindy c, [00:39:00] md, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook. I have some videos on YouTube and things like that. So it's been a lot of fun really, I think for me. Very grateful to have all these experiences and resources and that I'm able to share it with others so that they can be well and, and really see the benefits and, and I think, you know, it's, it's so nice to see that it creates a ripple effect outward, right?

[00:39:31] Dr. Cindy Tsai: Where you know when you take care of yourself. When you learn this breathing technique and then when your colleague sees you, they're like, Oh, something's different about you. And then you share this and then, you know, kind of like, it just keeps spreading like wildfire. In a good way. . Right, Right. And to help people really be, be, and feel the best that they can be, so that they can really enjoy their lives with ease.

[00:39:53] John Cordray: Yeah. Oh, I like that. And just a reminder, we'll have all of your website and your social media, Thank [00:40:00] you so much on on our show notes as well. You're welcome. Very welcome. Well, that is all for today, and I wanted to thank all of you for listening and tuning in, and if this has been helpful, let us know.

[00:40:12] John Cordray: You can reach out to dr. S, You can reach out to me. You could go to our website, Mental health today, show.com. Or you can reach out on social media just like Dr. S I'm, I'm everywhere on social media. Let us know if this has been helpful and and I'll pass it on to Dr. S as well. We liked to know of what we're doing is helpful and impactful and it means so much to us speaking for myself when we hear from you all.

[00:40:41] John Cordray: Whether it's a, a podcast episode or, or some other piece of content that we produce that it's been helpful for you, we love to hear that. So reach out to us and we, we want you to, to benefit and we wanna know how we benefit. Well, I wanted, again, thank you, [00:41:00] and we're just going to close out the show. And just as a reminder to all of you to keep working on your mental health, be mindful.

[00:41:10] John Cordray: Of your stress and your anxiety, keep working. Don't give up. And remember that the Mental Health Today Show has been championing your mental health since 2015. Take care.

Cindy Tsai, MD Profile Photo

Cindy Tsai, MD

Physician / Author / TEDx Speaker / Life Coach

Dr. Cindy Tsai is a board-certified physician, bestselling author, mindfulness teacher, speaker, and life coach who is committed to helping high-achievers live their best life with ease. She earned BA and MS degrees from Johns Hopkins University and MD degree from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. As a physician and patient, Dr. Tsai saw and experienced the impact of chronic stress on the body and was compelled to do more than prescribe medications as a bandaid. Through her own healing journey, she explored and trained in a wide range of solution-oriented therapeutic modalities and now emphasizes taking an integrative approach to wellness. As author of the bestselling book, "So Much Better: Life-Changing Strategies to Develop Calm, Confidence, and Curiosity to Become an Inspiring Success Story", she introduces a radical path to well-being, through creating the Inspiring Success Story MethodTM. This method offers clients a diverse range of mind-body-spirit techniques to expand the possibilities of achieving their dreams. Dr. Tsai is an award winning physician who has been nationally recognized, featured, and published in a range of media including mindbodygreen, US News, Doximity, KevinMD, Medium, and more. She is grateful to share her expertise and passion to guide as many as possible in the journey of self-discovery to recognize the importance of self-care as a wellness practice to lead and enjoy a life of ease.