Mayo Clinic Transform 2014 - Amit Sood
Amit Sood, MD
Executivedirector of the Global Center for Resiliency and Well-Being
, is executive director of the Global Center for Resiliency and Well-Being, former professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and creator of Mayo Clinic Resilient Mind.
What are you working on now?
It may sound a bit grandiose, but I’m searching for ways to help enhance global resilience and well-being. Nearer to home, here at the Mayo Clinic, I’m helping patients cope better with their illnesses; working to prevent illness in the first place, which is part of my motivation for teaching people about stress; and helping enhance the resilience of caregivers. Being involved in student life and wellness, I’m trying to improve student and teacher engagement and, yes, decrease the stressfulness of that engagement. And I’m working to prevent, and even reverse, professional burnout among healthcare professions.
RELATED:The United States of Stress: You'll Never Think About Stress the Same Way Again
From your own research or that of others, what have you learned about stress that you didn’t know or that surprised you?
Here’s what I didn’t know when I started on this path of research and study:
- Even a little daily stress can have adverse metabolic consequences.
- After a particularly stressful episode, your risk of death and heart attack goes upseveralfoldfor a few hours.
- Not only does our response to stressors — real and perceived — start with the brain, but in the form of chronic, toxic stress, it ends up harming the brain. It’s a kind of perfect feedback loop.
What stresses you out, and how do you manage the stressors in your life?
Seeing little children suffering completely stresses me out. I cry, but then transform my emotions into actions by doing what I can, and the best I can, to help the world.
We all need to be better informed about stress. In a sentence, what should we know to increase our stress IQ?
The kind of stress — the stressing out — that endangers our well-being comes from a demand-resource imbalance, a lack of control, and a lack of meaning in our lives.
What’s the one recommendation you would make to help people 1) lower their daily stress levels, and 2) function better in the midst of a stressful situation, incident, or moment?
I actually have three recommendations that, I believe, will work in both situations:
- Assume that everyone around you is struggling and special. Be kind.
- If it won’t matter in five years, it isn’t worth stressing out about today.
- Sometimes a step back can be a move forward. An adversity may be preventing a catastrophe.
Not only does our response to stressors — real and perceived — start with the brain, but in the form of chronic, toxic stress, it ends up harming the brain. It’s a kind of perfect feedback loop.
— Amit Sood, MD
Why did you become involved in research related to stress?
From a young age growing up overseas, I saw an incredible amount of suffering. My interest and research into stress accelerated when I saw how stressed out so many people are in the United States, where I, naively, expected everyone would be happy. Understanding the underpinnings of that stress in neurobiology enhanced my enthusiasm for developing solutions.
Video: Mayo Clinic's Dr. Amit Sood Talks about Stress and Resiliency
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