How I Live My Best Life: Dr. Anjali Mahto, UK-based dermatologist


How I Live My Best Life: Dr Anjali Mahto, dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible

"Exercise is a huge stress reliever"

By Drishti Vij  March 31st, 2020

Growing up, Anjali’s Mahto’s life was never confined to one place. Her family moved to UK from Jammu & Kashmir during 1970s and then shifted to Saudi Arabia for a couple of years during the Gulf War. Anjali lost her father at 12 and was brought up by her mother, who instilled in her the drive to work hard and the importance of having independence. Perhaps this is the reason why Anjali not only became an extremely successful dermatologist in the UK but was also able to author the The Skincare Bible two years ago, a book that gives access to dermatology to everyone, especially those who are unable to see or afford a dermatologist. Here’s what she has to on what keeps her going on the most chaotic days:

On how she starts her day:

My morning routine varies depending on whether I am starting with a clinic day or a non-clinic day – I split the week up to be able to have a portfolio career which allows me to see patients, write, partake in speaking events, or carry out media work. Half the week my morning starts by going to the gym or personal training before work. I do strength training twice a week and then go to HIIT classes 2-3 times a week on the other days. Exercise is an important part of my routine – I find it good for my mental wellbeing and it energises and sets me up for the rest of the day. The days I don’t start with a work out usually involve catching up on emails and the news over coffee.

 

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I can’t tell you how excited I am today to have been part of @sweatybetty live and their run of talks surround health and wellness. I don’t want to write a long, humble brag so I’m going to keep my thoughts brief on this one. Eternally grateful for the privilege of education and a job which has allowed me to diversify a career in medicine. I wouldn’t have dreamt possible the route my role as a dermatologist has taken and the amazing opportunities it has brought me. I do not regret the choices I have made with my career one single bit. I love doing these public facing events and even more grateful that brands such as Sweaty Betty think about diversity and inclusion across the intersection of race. There usually aren’t many south Asian faces at fitness festivals or events – either speaking or attending – and it feels like times are hopefully starting to change. Finally, a big thank you @sophieclydesmith for being such a wonderful and easy going host – it always makes things much easier to have someone who can draw the best out of you on stage!

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On organising her working hours:

I see patients three days a week and my clinics are busy. The other days are set aside for admin, media type work and exercise. I recognise I am in a privileged position to be able to prioritise my work-life balance and this allows me to enjoy every part of what I do without burn-out. As I have aged and recently turned 40, I am fully aware that time is our most precious commodity. We have to make the most of it.

On the one beauty myth she wants women to stop believing:

That acne is a beauty or cosmetic problem not a medical one! For the majority of women with acne, the cause is largely down to hormones and genetics but the beauty industry often lets us believe we just need a new face wash or toner!

On the one thing that helped her get through her struggles with acne:

My acne started when I was 12 and it is still something I struggle with on and off. I have come to a place of acceptance that this is my lot in life, so to speak and my acne may always come back even after treatment. That acceptance has not been easy, and there are days where it feels so gut-wrenchingly unfair that there is no permanent solution. But I think there are a number of things that have allowed me to be in a place where I largely feel at peace with it – partly having good support networks, partly knowing that there are treatments even if the spots come back, partly getting older and recognising that my self-worth does not come from what I look like and the big one – talking to an excellent clinical psychologist who made me see all these things and practice gratitude for what I have.

 

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👩🏾‍⚕️It’s mental health awareness week and its focus is body image. Skin, in both health and disease, plays such an important part in this. Sadly, our skin remains such an important element of perceived attractiveness. It is still, mistakenly used as a surrogate for a person’s health, age and assumptions about their background. The holy grail of “perfect skin” is to be coveted (despite the fact that it probably only comes from a lucky mix of genetics) and there to make the rest of us mortals feel slightly if not hugely inadequate. Culture, society and media in their own ways have been telling us through time that women in particular need to have clear skin to be seen as “beautiful” and successful.⁣ ***⁣ 😔People who suffer with skin conditions suffer with greater stigma and discrimination. Acne is associated with depression, low self-esteem, poor body image, bullying, shame, exclusion in the work place and even suicidal ideation. Yet, even though it is 2019, skin conditions are commonly overlooked as simply a cosmetic problem. This is such a shame as studies show that medical treatment for acne can improve many of these mental health symptoms. Early referral and treatment is key – not just to treat the acne or prevent scarring but specifically also to deal with the negative psychological effects untreated skin disease can cause.⁣ ***⁣ If you have never suffered with your skin, it can be hard to understand that every decision you make during the day is related to what your skin looks or feels like. So much time and energy is spent thinking about covering it, feeling the need to explain why your skin looks a certain way, or simply trying to find a way out of a social engagement when a flare-up occurs. Group holidays fill you with dread rather than excitement that people may see the “real” you and judge you for it. And even if they aren’t, you are feeling so self-conscious you struggle to concentrate on anything going on around you. Certain sports are out as it means you can’t wear make up. This is probably why i’m one of the worst swimmers I know – when my acne was at it’s peak in school, there is no way I was taking (cont 👇🏾👇🏾)

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On how she stays organised:

I am super organised when it comes to my work and diary keeping but my husband, Nik, will vouch for the fact that when it comes to our social life, I never know what I’m doing or where I’m supposed to be. I’m notorious for agreeing to do something then forgetting to put it into my diary so frequently staying on top of it on a week by week basis helps.

On managing stress:

Making sure I stay in shape mentally and physically. Exercise is a huge stress reliever as is talking through things with my family and close friends. Close social networks, bashing out ideas (or a punch bag!) all help!

On relaxing at the end of the day:

My husband, Nik, is an amazing cook – so a nice meal and some Netflix usually does the trick!