One of the key topics in my latest book, Feel Better In 5: Your Daily Plan To Feel Great For Life, is connection. So Vivobarefoot’s mission statement, to reconnect people and planet, really resonates with me. The idea that we need to disconnect (from technology) to reconnect (with each other, ourselves and the natural world) couldn’t be a more important one to share.
I’m also a huge fan of exercise in nature – there’s a lot of science to back up its mental health benefits – so I jumped at the chance to visit Bantham, in Devon, to take part in Vivobarefoot’s Swimrun retreat last June. It was my first time swimming in open water, my first proper endurance event, I was definitely nervous. But I loved it. There was so much community spirit and despite finding it tough (I got in quite a panic on the first swim), I felt supported and encouraged by everyone around me. After managing 1.9km in the water and 10km running on hilly trails, I learned the only limit to what you can achieve is your mind.
It’s always good to learn new skills, set yourself new challenges, and thanks to my introduction from Vivo, I’ve since completed two more swimrun events – and with my nine-year-old son as my partner. Vivobarefoot and I certainly share many values and one of them is the importance of getting back to basics. In our modern world, could there be a better mantra than ‘Get offline, get outside and make memories’?
Are You Ready To Feel Better In 5?
This and many other simple ideas for ‘living more’ are what I share with you in my new book. Behavioural science shows that most health plans, whether they’re about losing weight, exercising more or quitting bad habits, aren’t designed to last. It’s because they’re based on an incorrect assumption that all you need is willpower and motivation. Change it all, change it overnight and if you can’t stick to it… well that’s your fault, right?
Wrong. I know from my own life, and the experiences of patients I’ve helped over 20 years as a GP, that simple, small changes to your health are what add up a sustainable difference. That’s why I’ve written Feel Better In 5, a book that breaks down the most important aspects of health into five-minute chunks – no willpower or instant transformation required.
It’s an easy-to-follow, no-cost plan that gets results because it understands that the vast majority of today’s health problems are rooted in our busy, modern lifestyles. So many patients tell me they don’t have time for the gym, to overhaul their diet, to spend the quality time they want to with their loved ones. Our wellbeing gets added to a to-do list, something you’ll get to when you have the time – one day, hopefully, soon.
Time is a huge barrier, I get that. And it’s why I created a plan that’s super easy to follow and really doesn’t eat into your hectic schedule. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’ll soon find it creates more time in your day. The commitment? Just five minutes of your time, three times a day, just five days a week.
How It Works
In Feel Better In 5, I ask you to introduce three easy practices – I call them ‘health snacks’ –into each day. A snack takes just five minutes to complete – so there’s minimum impact on your schedule, yet maximum benefits to be gained. And that’s because it’s the way we choose to live, day in and day out, that mostly defines how healthy we end up being. If we regularly and consistently make good choices, we feel well. If we don’t, then at some point down the line our wellbeing is going to suffer.
The book is divided into three key areas of health: Mind, Body and Heart. Mind is about reducing levels of stress and anxiety – our modern-day epidemic. Body is about moving more, something so vital for our physical and mental health. And Heart is about strengthening all our essential, human connections, our relationships with others. If I had to choose one of the three areas that I feel is most important, and most often neglected, it’s this one.
To follow the plan, you choose one health snack from each of the three sections, Mind, Body and Heart, and you add them into your routine on five days of the week – I call these your ‘Feel Better Days’. For example:
You spend five minutes working on your mind, which might be a breathing exercise, a brief pause in nature, or a making brain-boosting smoothie.
Add a five-minute health snack for your body, which you can pick from the wide selection of fun activities and effective workouts I’ve included.
Then choose a snack for your heart, from practices like calling a friend, to taking time out with your partner, or compiling lists of people and things to celebrate and be grateful for.
By completing three short health snacks a day, you’ll quickly begin to feel happier, calmer and more energetic. You’ll become physically healthier and any excess weight will start to shift. Your entire system – mind, body and heart – will reap the benefits.
What I hope you’ll learn from my book is that health is a journey not a destination. It’s those little steps, the daily choices along the way, the small habits that add up. So focus on your journey to wellness, the ‘how’ not the ‘where’. And start with just five minutes – how easy does that sound?
Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s Feel Better In 5: Your Daily Plan To Feel Great For Life, is published by Penguin Life on 26 December, priced £16.99.Order your copy here.
More about Dr Rangan Chatterjee:
Dr Rangan Chatterjee is a general practitioner and one of the UK’s most respected and innovative voices in health. He’s a regular on TV and radio and starred in the BBC1 hit documentary series, Doctor In The House. He is host of the UK’s number one health podcast, Feel Better Live More, which regularly tops the iTunes chart. And as well as Feel Better In Five, he’s written two bestselling books: The Four Pillar Plan and The Stress Solution. The thread that runs through all Dr Chatterjee’s work is his passion for empowering patients, listeners, viewers and readers alike, with his unique, holistic approach to wellbeing. He’s an advocate of progressive medicine, taking a 360-degree approach to health, finding the root causes of illness and offering lifestyle prescriptions. The goal? To put you back in control of your health.