Thursday, 28 March 2019


Following on with the work of Dr Chaterjee we are looking this time at touch.  Do you know that being touched can make you feel better?  Of course you do.  But there are real benefits according to Dr Chaterjee in his book ‘The Stress Solution’.  His research shows that ‘Affectionate Human Touch’ can:

·         Lower heart rate

·         Lower blood pressure

·         Reduce cortisol levels

·         Raise levels of Natural Killer cells (one of the immune system’s defences against infection)

·         Increase parasympathetic tone, which puts us into thrive state.

It really is that good.  Of course, there are some people who for one reason or another don’t want to be hugged, so I suggest you don’t just go around randomly hugging!

We work a lot in care homes and I often hug the residents.  For some it is the best way of communicating, it says what words can’t.  I also hug some of my cancer exercise group, when words won’t work a bit of human touch can say it all.

A hug can say ‘thank you’ and it can say ‘I really care about how you are feeling’ and its free.  It can make a big difference.  Give it a try !  

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Three things to schedule to reduce stress

What can we get into our busy days that will help to deal with stress?

Dr Chaterjee (carrying on with the series from his book ‘The Stress Solution’) suggests three things that we should build into everyday;

·         Something that brings you joy.  Now I don’t know what that is for you.  Things that spring to mind for me are reading, listening to a story and music.  For you it might be seeing the new shoots on your favourite shrub (take a picture, then you can go back to it time and time again).  Wendy Cope (my favourite poet) – in her poem ‘The Orange’ tells us that ‘it made me so happy, As ordinary things often do, Just lately’ .  Its not the big things – look for the joy in the everyday small things.  (getting your washing dry on the line?)

·         Something that helps you to learn ‘delayed gratitude’.  We live in a world of ‘instant gratitude’ – the buzz of a text and the dashed off reply, face book, Instagram and food – food that ‘hits the spot’ and alcohol.  We are growing used to getting what we want when we want it.  We have a chance of feeling less stressed if we take it slowly, find something that takes a while to learn, that takes a while to complete.  How about doing your favourite hobby?   People spend hours on the bank fishing, a great way to chill.  Learn to knit, play an instrument, speak a different language.  None of this is quick or easy, but so good if we can learn to enjoy the journey and the eventual reward of a skill mastered.  

·         Something that involves movement or exercise.  Schedule it in – maybe it’s a walk, maybe it’s a quick trip to the gym.  Perhaps it’s a home workout or some yoga, just move your body.  Our bodies are designed to move – make use of them!  Exercise is a great stress buster !

Monday, 4 March 2019

Reframing - Find the positive

Continuing our series on dealing with stress from Dr Chaterjee’s book  ‘The Stress Solution’ I would like to talk, this time, about reframing your day. 

Is your life a mess?  Do you hate your job?  According to Dr Chaterjee, if you consider these types of options (or any of the many negative frames we put on our life) and spend all day reinforcing these ideas then that is how you will continue to see your life.  By dwelling on the negatives in your life you will simply reinforce them.  So you are stuck in traffic, in fact you get stuck in traffic every day.  You can get cross and rant or you can think ‘great, more time to listen to the radio / my audio book’.  You can say ‘I have set off in good time and I won’t be late and anyway, getting cross won’t shift the traffic’.    Its about how you frame it.

If you think constantly about how much you dislike one of your co-workers then will probably be unpleasant to that person and the situation will get worse.  How about telling yourself ‘I don’t really get along with them well but I will be polite and cheerful and not dwell on her nasty remarks’?  I bet you will feel less stressed. 

Dr Chaterjee gives some great examples of finding value in your work (pages 40 & 41).  One that particularly resonates with me is that of a nurse.  If we spend all our time moaning about the fact that we are underpaid and overworked we will be unhappy and fed up.  However, if we acknowledge that we are making a difference to people’s lives we are much more likely to be less stressed.

Now the cynics amongst us will be unsure at this point – but give it a go – find a positive in the situation and cling to it! 

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Boil in the bag omlette - Really!

Boil in the bag cheese omelette

How’s this for a whacky idea?  A quick and easy snack meal – boil in the bag omelette.

It was with a sense of ‘really?’ that we tried this for supper last night – but it works

Taken from Tom Kerridge’s ‘Dopamine Diet’ cook book

Put a large saucepan full of water onto boil

Take about 150 gms grated cheese – we just guessed and put half into each of two sealable plastic bags

Beat 5 eggs (this is for two people) with salt and pepper, some milk and a knob of butter (not quite what Tom suggested – but it works well)

Pour the egg mix equally into each bag

Seal the bags and put in the pan of boiling water

Turn the heat down so that the water simmers nicely

Cook for about 10 mins – its easy to see if they are cooked.  I turned ours over a bit as the bottoms were cooking and the tops were a bit runny

Serve with salad or peas

A little note – make sure you tuck the tops of the bags so that they are over the water – one of mine burnt onto the outside of the pan! 

Thursday, 7 February 2019


This week we are taking the Ikigai concept into reality

Dr Chaterjee suggests the acronym LIVE

·         Love – do something you love

·         Intent – live with a clear intent

·         Vision – develop a long term vision

·         Engaging – with the world about you

Looking in a bit more depth, first of all try to find and do something that you love.  Even a small amount of time every day or even every week will make a difference.  You may have heard that Steve and a small (but growing) group are running the Park Run every week.  It’s a few minutes of something that really matters to them.  Its great fun and there’s a sense of camaraderie.  Now that’s not what I love just at the moment – but doing my degree is just fab.  So once a week I catch the bus and go to uni – I just love it and feel loads better for doing it.  What do you love?

How about living with a clear intent – what does he mean by this?  its about paying attention to the small things – don’t just drift through every day.  Try pausing and noticing.  I often stop on my walk and take a photo of something that catches my eye.  By keeping an eye out for the beauty I can find lots of interesting things to snap.  Try to just enjoy the every day things, not rush through and notice nothing.

Do you have a goal or do you think you will just carry on doing what you are doing now for ever?  We make plans (certainly now that it seems that Steve might have a few more years left in him) – they don’t always work out but it does give us something to look forward to.  If any of you have seen us having lunch in Little Acre at the weekend you will see the notebook and pen – we’re making plans.  Try it, when the day is tough it helps to know that there is something on the horizon.

As for engaging – its really about those Random Acts of Kindness.  It’s the little things.  Chat to someone who looks lonely, say hi to someone who helps you.  Offer a kind hand, a gentle word, a bright smile – try it, I can almost guarantee that you will feel great at the end of the day. 

Just LIVE!