Before I was introduced to this book, I had never heard of the author, but soon after, I realised that he is kind of a big deal in the UK. I guess it shows my bias toward US authors, even though I live in France. Dr. Chatterjee is a physician, author, television presenter, and podcast host focused on helping people change their health with small, easy to implement, and easy to sustain changes.
What I appreciate so much about him is that he has studied behavioural science and habit forming, so he fully understands why standard doctor advice won’t work, and beliefs that popping a set of pills is often a band-aid for a bigger issue. In his book “Feel Better In 5”, Dr. Chatterjee outlines a new approach to changing your health that takes just 15 minutes a day—5 minutes focused on your mind, 5 minutes on your body, and 5 minutes on your heart. And when he says heart, he isn’t referring to the physical muscle either.
Each day, Dr. Chatterjee wants you to engage in what he calls a “healthy snack”, even though it isn’t necessarily about food. The mind snack is focused on reducing levels of anxiety and stress. The body snack is focused on getting moving. And the heart snack is focused on strengthening your connections with others.
Our lives cannot be divided into compartments, despite our belief that they can. Instead, everything is all connected. Sometimes we think one thing is the cause, but it goes deeper than we can see. Like the proverbial iceberg. As we embark on these new 3-times-a-day healthy snacks, Dr. Chatterjee reminds us of the science surrounding habits. He says that if we just focus on willpower and discipline, then we will fail. If we want new behaviours, it starts with creating new habits.
The mind snacks are comprised of written exercises, guided visualisations, breathing exercises, walks in nature, mind food, etc. The body snacks are comprised of ways to move your body. I am sure you probably could have guessed that. In this section he outlines various ways that you can move your body for just 5 minutes a day, some of which don’t require you to sweat or change clothes. Finally, the heart snacks support you to connect, forgive and celebrate with other people. He says, “Human connection is as vital as any vitamin or nutrient.”
Before you go anywhere, head over to your calendar or reminder app and set yourself up for success. Remember, the best way to start a new habit is to tie it to an existing habit. You can decide if you will do squats while brushing your teeth, or start colouring each morning while drinking your coffee, or if you will start a new “phone a friend” routine.
What matters is that you start.