“Your brain is your most powerful, yet one of your most fragile organs. And many of us are going through, day after day, doing nothing to look after it.” -Dr. Rangan Chatterjee.
Recently introduced to Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, I’ve been very curious to learn more about this doctor who promises a better life in 5 minutes a day. A doctor who has reversed type 2 diabetes, lowered blood pressure without drugs, reduced menopausal symptoms naturally… the list goes on.
I hate to say I live in a world where I would normally say “ it is too good to be true” but I don’t live in that world anymore. The more I learn, the more you learn, the more we can both see that these things are possible because what those 5 minutes a day are doing, are forming healthier habits! Habits that naturally build more positive habits and over a lifetime can change you for the better.
We create challenges and encourage ourselves to finish them. But what happens when we just can’t? When we sign up for the Smoo45 but just can’t finish the pages, we join a zoom yoga class but skip half of them for varied reasons like sleeping in or needing to take our dog for a walk, we cut out sugary foods and trans fats but somehow keep coming back to them.
We talk about this all the time in the S’moo Blogs, creating long-term simple habits that can change the way we feel, and eventually change our health. So what is he doing that is working?
He mentions that “we make our goal when our motivation is really high.” He goes on to say, what we need to do, is plan our goals when our motivation is at the bottom aka starting small. Why will this work? A few reasons but at the end of the day we are all “Busy people with busy lives; the biggest thing is time.” No one can say they don’t have 5 minutes everyday. Which is where this starts, just 5 minutes. So often our goals only last a small amount of time because they were big! An hour working out a day for forever is hard to fit in everyday, but 5 minutes? 5 minutes everyday for forever doesn’t sound impossible. Then on the days you want to go for longer you can but as long as you do your 5 minutes, you’ve kept your goal.
I thought it was interesting, he mentioned how we all know what will happen with 5 minutes of negative action a day and how much damage it can do. Do we ever think of how much positivity and health can come from 5 minutes of good?
This can work for anything. Working out - squats in the kitchen for 5 minutes. Mental recharge - freeform journalling to clear out the clutter or maybe coloring in a coloring book in the morning with some coffee.
If you want to work on your mind, you want anything that can get you into a flow state; something that is channeling enough that keeps you interested and creates a since of meditation. It doesn’t have to be complicated and it might be unique to you but here is one example to use. It’s a zen practice called breath counting, that Dr. Chatterjee mentions and it helps with concentration. Here is how you do it; breath in, on the out breath count to one; breath in, on the out breath count to two and repeat until you get to 5, then start over.
Sustainable change also comes from knowing yourself. For example, when I’m stressed I like to reach for sugary treats. If I decide to cut out sugar and I’m successful for a week, a month and so on, eventually I’ll creep back to eating sugar because I haven’t addressed my stress. If I find another way to relax when I’m stressed, like yoga or working on a puzzle to take my mind off the stress, this can replace the sugar that was my way of fixing it. This helps me make a sustainable change to cut out sugar for good.
I also watched a podcast with Matthew McConaughey and Dr. Chatterjee. McConaughey was talking about life in simple terms of green, yellow and red lights - just like traffic lights. “The highway of life” he called it. It’s pretty simple, green is go, you’re making your own choices, you’re happy and in control of your life. Yellow is when things are slowing you down and maybe not going so smoothly. Red is when it all stops, you’ve lost a job or a loved one, you’re stressed about life and can’t seem to move forward. He mentioned how we can hit a yellow light in life and turn it to red, or you can take a yellow light and turn it around making it green. I thought it was an interesting way of talking about taking back control instead of letting life stop you completely. This 5 minute hack (which can really be anything) can help get you started.
If you’re full of anxiety each day try five minutes of journaling with questions to answer. He calls it the 5 step release. Here are the 5 questions:
Baby steps! Mark in your calendar or in your planner a check mark each time you’ve completed your 5 minutes. Better yet, mark how long you actually spent if it’s longer. When you go back at the end of the month and later on, flip through a full year you can look back at your success. Eventually, it won’t just be 5 minutes, it will become part of your lifestyle and directly affect other elements of your life in a positive way.
These are 5 minutes for you, it’s a way to prioritize yourself. You matter.