Whether she’s blogging on how to stay mentally healthy during the COVID pandemic or teaching medical students at Georgetown University, Explorer Psychiatrist Mom on the Street Anjali Gupta M.D. inspires us all on how to be a generative member of society while also making time for life balance and making time for fun with our family.
Our Explorer Psychiatrist Mom on the Street, Dr. Anjali Gupta is an impressive philanthropist, a psychiatrist, an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, a global adventurer, a gifted writer, and a mom of three. When she’s not busy teaching psychiatry, blogging on her website called Wellness During Covid-19, writing articles on mental health for Psychology Today, and serving on the board of several charitable organizations, Anjali’s passion is traveling with her family. You can find Anjali trekking the world with her husband, Arun, and children Anaya (12), Akash (18), and Akshay (20) on her off-hours. Together, they have explored over twenty-five countries.
In addition to writing and teaching, Anjali is on the Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of Directors at Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C. Furthermore, Anjali is also part of the D.C. Regional Board at Northwestern University. To add to her already impressive resume, Anjali is a psychiatrist and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Georgetown University where she teaches in the School of Medicine and the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation.
Describe yourself in 3 words. Giving, authentic, curious
What three words best describe your family? Adventurous, caring, reliable
You’re a psychiatrist, an Adjunct Professor, and a writer. What inspired you to get into the mental health field and teach? When I was in medical school, I initially thought I would be an internist. But I found I was drawn to my patient's life narratives and interested in the mind-body connection. Decades later, I am still fascinated by the interplay of genetic, biochemical, psychological, and social factors that make us all who we are. I have always loved teaching; it is ingrained into the training process for physicians. At every level from medical student to intern to resident to attending, there are opportunities to teach and mentor in both formal and informal ways.
What do you prioritize in your self-care routine to keep yourself mentally balanced as a mom? I am a daily meditator and have been exploring meditation since my twenties. Both my grandfather and my mother meditated so I was exposed at an early age. In the beginning, I came at it from an Eastern philosophy. Then I was trained and practiced Transcendental Meditation. Currently, I am practicing meditation from the mindfulness approach of Jon Kabat-Zinn. Going inward, connecting with my strength and peace, and setting daily intentions have been an important part of my daily routine.
How long have you been traveling the world? 25 years. I was born and brought up in Chicago. My first year married, my husband and I lived in Mumbai. On the way back to the U.S., we traveled all through Southeast Asia, exploring Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, and Japan. As a couple, we have traveled through North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. We wanted to show our children the world, and we have gone to approximately twenty-five countries with them. My son has gone to Botswana and Zambia, but Africa is still on my list.
What’s your favorite place you’ve visited with your kids? Machu Picchu. The hiking was amazing amidst the picturesque backdrop. My daughter was 5 years old when she hiked Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu with our family. The irrigation system and architecture were mesmerizing! When we stood up there amidst the alpaca, it was incredible to imagine the lives that had been a part of the mountain and unbelievable to think how those boulders were carried up to build these magnificent structures.
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family? Exploring. Whether we are trying a new cuisine or a new game or a new culture, I love learning new things and enjoy watching my children embrace new ideas. It is too easy to be comfortable and set in things we know and understand. Pushing beyond that point is not only exciting but encourages humility, comfort, and confidence with the unknown.
What’s your favorite family game? At the beach, it is Bocce. On a rainy day, probably cards. Monopoly Deal and Contact are regular favorites also.
What’s your go-to family dinner? We have a bunch of go-to dinners, but I think enchiladas and sushi are my top favorites.
Best parenting advice: Carve out time for something you love each day. Finding time for you and delving into your own "flow" is important for your individual well-being and keeps you connected to things you love. Finding this space will rejuvenate you and allow you to be more present as a parent.
What are some of the best things your kids have taught you? They have taught me to roll with the changes. They grow up quickly and their personalities and interests develop as they do. Following their lead and learning to support them for who they are through these changes has taught me a level of flexibility and improvisation. Being a parent is selfless love in its truest form.
What 5 things are you most likely to have in your purse at all times? If I am being honest, nothing terribly exciting. A fun pair of reading glasses, lip gloss, my air pods, a pen with colored ink, and my keys.
What’s your favorite part about being a parent? My children have been a pure joy in my life. They have given me so many reasons to celebrate, helped me to grow, provided my days with meaning, made me laugh, and allowed me many ways to learn alongside them. My favorite part as they grow is watching them touch the world around them in so many positive ways. It makes me happy to watch them share the same kindness that has lit up my life with others in their journey.
What’s been your favorite pandemic working mom tip? My favorite pandemic concept was the "walk and talk." I figured out which meetings did not need to be on zoom and took them by phone while walking outside. Not only were some of my best brainstorms while I was moving, but I also found people were thankful that we had gotten outside and off zoom for a few thousand steps mid-day as well.
You are a psychiatrist, an Adjunct Professor, and write on the topic of mental health. What’s your tip on keeping calm under pressure? We can't completely rid our lives of stress, but we can choose our attitude and how we are going to deal with it when it arises. Exercise, yoga, and meditation all help me to relieve stress. Spending time with people who bring me positive energy is also an important part of my life; I really value these meaningful connections.
What advice would you give other moms about finding balance in life? No matter what your career path is, balance is a concept for every mom. Whether moms are working full-time, part-time, or in the home, questions of balance arise. I think it is important to have self-compassion and not be judgmental of yourself on any given day. Balance needs to be looked at across days and requires setting aside time for self-reflection on what balance looks like for you. It will vary from individual to individual. As women, we need to understand our own balance and allow other women space for theirs without judgment.
What have you found most effective as a natural mood booster? Exercising outside is a natural mood booster that I love to incorporate into my day when I can. In medical school, I ran along Lake Michigan with a close friend every day after class. Being by the water has always been and still is a source of rejuvenation for me. Hiking in nature also gives me a boost, and we are lucky to have so many parks around us in the DC area. My husband and I just got back from the Smokey Mountains; it was such a beautiful spot to hike, and we even did a yoga class amidst the trees. Not only does exercise increases endorphins and boost mood, being in nature does as well.
What actions steps do you advise to build resilience for moms? Moms are so busy and multitasking in so many different directions. Carving out time for self-care can be challenging but is so important. Planning for healthy eating, exercise, and getting enough sleep are just a few ways to care for yourself. Incorporating mindfulness into your meditation, eating, and walking is a good way to find moments of calm and compassion that help to build resilience. Also, create space for self-reflection and gratitude. What gives you meaning in your life? What went well today and why did it? What's your personal brand?
What’s your favorite show to binge-watch? The Crown.
What is your favorite book? My favorite fiction book of all time is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Some other favorite books are Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, and Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.
What’s at the top of your travel bucket list when the pandemic is over? Australia. We have not yet gone because of the flight time to get there, but I would love to go!
Do you have any guilty pleasures? Chocolate lava cake and sea salt caramel gelato.
What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day? Getting in a cozy blanket with a good book and herbal tea is one of my favorite ways to unwind.
We love Anjali’s approach to being a positive impact on the Washington D.C. community at large as both an academic and an active philanthropist. We're big fans of how she embraces global adventures with her children. We all can follow Anjali’s philosophy of incorporating mindfulness, a sense of curiosity, and adventure into our own lives on our journey towards life balance.
Our Explorer Psychiatrist Mom on the Street inspires us to manage our stress in a multi-dimensional way. Like Anjali, we can make it a point to focus on self-care while also being intentional about focusing on quality time with people who provide us with positive energy. She reminds us to be more engaged in our world while still finding time to savor the fun of motherhood while still being a proactive voice in the community.