Physician-turned-Entrepreneur Sets the Tone for Good Mental Health

As a best-selling author, TEDx speaker, and life coach, Cindy Tsai MED’14 encourages Geisel School of Medicine students to prioritize their own well-being as they pursue their goals of being a physician.  

Cindy Tsai
Cindy Tsai encourages using the mind-body
connection to manage stress.

“Practicing mindfulness and gratitude are important, and we must normalize the conversations around exhaustion and self-care,” Tsai says. “Think about a car without gas or a smartphone without battery—they don’t work. It’s only when you are well that you have more to give to others.”  

“We have to make space for creativity and honor those passions. It will add to your experience and help you become a better clinician in ways you never thought of.”

Tsai returns as a regular speaker at Dartmouth events, such as Geisel’s Wellness Week where she gave a keynote on managing stress using the mind-body connection, sharing her integrative approach to wellness. She emphasizes that women are particularly at risk of putting their own mental health on the backburner for the sake of others, the topic of a workshop she led on “Burnout: Tools that Work” with the Women of Dartmouth alumnae.   

“This was an opportunity to discuss the importance of self-compassion and how to be kind to yourself,” Tsai says. “Across cultures and generations, women have been conditioned to live up to an unrealistic ideal, which can be an obstacle in terms of growth and well-being. There’s so much more to life than studying and good grades. The key is to start from within.” 

She notes that she has learned to make peace with perfectionist tendencies—and sets aside time to support her mental health, starting with a morning meditation session to get grounded for the day. As a busy entrepreneur, Tsai says her world can be fast-paced with many distractions, and this daily practice helps her focus on the present. 

Thinking back on her time at Geisel, Tsai fondly recalls making one-of-a-kind jewelry and pottery pieces on-campus to “use a different part of her brain.” She says physicians sometimes lose sight of their creative side.  

“Time is finite, and you don’t have to wait until you finish school or training to do what you really want to do,” she says. “Give yourself permission to explore and honor those passions. You have to make space for the fun. It will enrich your life and help you become a better clinician in ways you never thought of.” 

Written by Ashley Festa