Total Health: Dr Nidhi Gupta of Phreedom On How We Can Optimize Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
8 min readJul 27, 2022


Lack of understanding about what triggers the human mind to crave for sugar, salt and fat! This idea is closely interlinked with our craving for our devices and craving for validation on social media! The trigger loop discussed above plays a role here too.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Nidhi Gupta .

Dr. Nidhi Gupta is a pediatric endocrinologist in Nashville, TN and CEO of Phreedom (Ungrip Devices. Grip Life). She has authored over 31 peer-reviewed articles, and book chapters, presented her research at international and national platforms, and been awarded four Young Investigator Awards. Her guiding principles are knowledge and balance.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Of course! I was born and raised in a beautiful town located at the foothills of the Himalayas in North India. With my father being a physician and my mother being an educator, my childhood was defined by knowledge and academia. I found joy in my books. Outside of books, my world was filled with badminton, Harry Potter and a bit of theater!

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

As a Pediatric Endocrinologist, the trend in smartphone associated health disorders (obesity, diabetes, sleep, and mental health issues) started worrying me about two years ago. I was often asked by my patients, “why are these health issues related to screentime?” and “what can we do about the screentime?”. These were seemingly simple but loaded questions. For me, they opened multiple avenues to tackle a major blind spot that is currently unknowingly affecting a majority of the world.

As I started a deep dive into the issue of wireless mobile device overuse, I unearthed several issues that were in my own blind spot initially: distraction, errors, procrastination, burnout, relationship conflicts, inefficiency, job dissatisfaction, life dissatisfaction, upward social comparison, and distracted driving.

I was inspired to launch the educational platform, Phreedom (Ungrip Devices. Grip Life).

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I have more than one person to give credit to! These are the people who shaped me, coached me and encouraged me to be who I am today. My mother, Sudesh Gupta, who is an educator has been my rock through everything. My husband, Kashish Goel who has been with me since we were both in medical school, encourages me daily to power through, no matter what. My father, Satya Narain Gupta; my brother, Nikhil Gupta and my leadership coach, Giovanni Gonzalez form the backbone of my team.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

It was not necessarily a mistake, but a realization. Never underestimate the passion of your audience! At my recent event, ReConnect Atlanta, my audience was a group of passionate achievers. ReConnect is a ‘lifestyle’, they made it a ‘movement’.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

‘Start With Why’ and ‘Leaders Eat Last’ by Simon Sinek influenced me to change the course of my life entirely. I read these books when I was going through a challenging phase in my career. The books resonated with me, and it felt as if they were written just for me, to lead me out of the challenging situation that I was facing at the time and direct me towards something better and brighter.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Balance is finding time for what you need to do and what you want to do.

As a mother, wife, physician, author, speaker and advocate, I find this quote to be my guiding principle as I navigate the numerous roles that I play daily.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

ReConnect 2022 (Nashville Chapter) has all my passion and energy these days. ReConnect is a story about finding joy, feeling empowered and being transformed. ReConnect is designed to help people re-discover their relationship with their wireless mobile devices (smartphones) and heal that relationship, if needed. While some people may have an insight into the impact of excessive wireless mobile device use on their health, most are unaware of potential solutions.

The focus of my work is to help my audience understand the:

• science behind the addictive nature of the content that we access on our devices

• impact of this habit on our health and well-being

• practical strategies to achieve Life-Technology Balance

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives: Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Break the Trigger Loop of Devices

Dopamine is one of the chemicals that is released in the brain in response to a reward-related cue. Every ding or chime from the wireless mobile device (WMD) is a cue for the release of dopamine.

The trigger-loop includes the compulsion to respond immediately to cues (e.g., notifications). The cues elicit dopamine release which leads to an immediate craving (i.e., the need to focus on the WMD). The WMD user then responds (i.e., reaches for the device) and is rewarded (i.e., feels relieved once the text, email, or post has been read). Frequent repetition of this cycle results in an association of the cue with a positive reward.

I offer several strategies to break the trigger loop of WMDs. These strategies help enhance mental wellness in many ways.

2. Reverse the hypothesis of Escape-Displace to Engage-Replace.

With only a limited number of discretionary hours in a day, we have to be mindful of how we spend those hours. Are we getting enough sleep, making time for physical activity and hobbies, and spending media-free time with loved ones? Does the presence of a WMD nearby help us ESCAPE from these tasks and makes us DISPLACE the essential activities that are crucial for mental health? I inspire people to reverse the cycle of ‘Escape-Displace’ and convert that to ‘Engage-Replace’.

3. Batch processing

Do we allow ourselves to be constantly interrupted by each message, email, like, post, and comment. It is important to develop the strategy of ‘batch processing’, wherein all messages, emails and social media tasks are accomplished in 1–2 predefined sessions, instead of carrying them over into the evening and late at night.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

My meditation practice includes 45 minutes of device-free mindfulness. I practice Power Yoga and Vinyasa Flow Yoga.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

It might be hard to believe, but the 3 strategies that I discussed above are intertwined in such a way that following them would enhance your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

For instance, spending several hours on social media impacts:

  • Physical health: because the time lost could have been put towards sleep and exercise.
  • Mental health: due to the exposure to disagreeable content and by displacing sleep which is essential for good mental health.
  • Emotional health: by facilitating unreasonable comparisons with other people’s perfect lives, perfect bodies, perfect vacations and perfect marriages (upward social comparison).

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

I was born in a lacto-vegetarian family and have followed that practice all my life!

The blockages in following a healthy eating pattern might come from:

  • Absence of a role model/family member to follow
  • Insufficient/inaccurate knowledge about the variety of diet options that exist today
  • Lack of understanding about what triggers the human mind to crave for sugar, salt and fat! This idea is closely interlinked with our craving for our devices and craving for validation on social media! The trigger loop discussed above plays a role here too.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Please see answer above under ‘physical wellness’!

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

Not just smiling but laughing!! Laughing out loud, by throwing your head back, by feeling it in the muscles of your face! Smiling not just from the face but smiling from the heart. Smiling like a baby does, pure and magical. So powerful, it can melt glaciers!

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Practicing setting your devices away, intentionally, for just 15 minutes a day could be a great start to your spiritual wellness.
  2. Practicing 30 minutes of digital detox first thing in the morning helps immensely. Just take the time first thing in the morning to be with your own thoughts, feel your breath, enjoy the shower, relish the coffee, plan your day…before letting the outside world in on your personal mind space.
  3. Replace screentime with greentime.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

Being ‘in nature’ can inspire true mindfulness and joy. It’s a matter of truly ‘being’ in nature. And that takes patience and practice.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

A movement to cure the itch of the hand…the invisible, irresistible, and irrational itch!

The itch to reach for our devices every 90 seconds!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

Simon Sinek. He changed my life, for good.

How can our readers further follow your work online?





Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

The pleasure has been all mine! Thank you for this opportunity.