After spending some time with TV ‘s Dr Rangan Chatterjee learning about the damage that stress does to our health, we asked him for five simple ways to combat stress. Here, he shares his favourites.
“So many of us are too busy doing what we need to do rather than what we want to do,” Dr Ranjan explains.
“To combat this, do something you love regularly. In other words, give yourself a daily dose of pleasure. This actually makes you more resilient to stress. Conversely if you are chronically stressed you find it harder to experience pleasure. Even five minutes a day reading, listening to music, dancing with no one watching, watching a comedian on YouTube.”
Dr Rangan says: “If you eat out of rhythm that stresses the body. Instead of focusing on what you eat, focus on when you eat. Eat all your food in a 12 hour window. That can be breakfast at 7am and dinner finished at 7pm or 8am breakfast and finished dinner by 8pm.
“We know that it helps your immune system. It also helps your blood sugar control and it can help you lose weight.”
“Take 10-minutes of ‘me time’ every day,” Dr Rangan continues. “We’ve lost the ability to just sit there. We are always checking phones and emails and feeling we need to be doing something. But it’s when you do nothing that a lot of magic happens in your brain. If you went for a walk and you put your phone away it is amazing how many of us solve problems or ideas come into our heads. When you’re not actually focused on a task the part of your brain – the DMN, the default node network – goes into overdrive.
Dr Rangan says: “Scheduling is really important. Even if all you do is write down three priorities for the day when you wake up. You will find it’ll focus your mind and it helps your stress levels simply by knowing you have ticked off your priorities. Some people take it a step further and schedule every step of their day. They know that by 10am they’ll take a phone call, 10.30am – 11am they’ll work out, 11.45-12 they’ll enjoy a cup of coffee and so on. I know people, my wife included, and it lowers their stress levels and give them more time in the day. It gives live a structure.”
“I’m a huge fan of a morning routine,” Dr Rangan reveals. “It’s a way of giving yourself a dose of calm. I leave my phone out of the bedroom because otherwise I struggle not to look at it the second I wake up. If you check your phone straight away you are automatically raising your stress levels by reacting to what the world wants you to react to. You are filling your brain with external noise and you have lost control over your day. Just five or 10 minutes of calm can have a big impact on the rest of your day.
“A bit of meditation, a few stretches and some affirmations set you up for the day and really makes you feel more calm.”
“Not all the strategies work for everyone but these are tips and tools that busy people with busy lives, like many of my patients of 18-years say help them. They are practical solutions that actually work. They don’t cost money and they don’t take long.”