A GP for 20 years in Manchester, Dr Rangan Chatterjee is mindful to practise the stress-busting techniques he preaches. “Like many people I’m busy,” he says. “I’m married, I’ve got two young children, I work hard, I’m trying to make sure I spend enough time with my family – I’ve got to be careful I don’t burn out doing all of this. I absolutely have to practise stress management myself.”
As well as being a medical practitioner, Rangan is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Stress Solution and founder and presenter of Feel Better, Live More, one of Europe’s biggest health podcasts. He shares the simple changes we can make for a healthier, happier break.
Why are we so stressed?
Rangan says that up to 90% of what a GP sees in any given day is related to stress. “A whole variety of different health conditions can be caused by stress – not just obesity and diabetes but also things like headaches, insomnia and gut problems,” he says.
Originally our stress responses were there to keep us safe from wild predators, Rangan explains. But now they’re being activated by our daily lives. The problems Rangan sees in his surgery have inspired him to empower people to take control of their stress levels. “I want to give stress management the same importance as eating vegetables or going to the gym,” he says.
Unplug for a more connected break
To help us connect better with our families Rangan believes we should use our digital devices less. “Having your phone there is going to keep you distant from those people around you. So maybe go cycling on one of the beautiful paths at Center Parcs and leave your phones in your lodge. You’ll find it’s a much different experience and you will connect more.”
Get outdoors and into nature
Have you ever wondered why you feel so refreshed after a walk in the forest or a trip to the coast? Rangan says we’re hardwired to be in nature. “Nature is powerful for our physical, emotional and mental health. Just being in nature, or looking at nature, will make your stress levels reduce immediately. So if you go on a Center Parcs break your stress levels will come down.”
Try a family adventure
Rangan says breaks offer a unique opportunity to spend quality time with our family and nourish relationships. He says the best way to be in the moment and more connected with each other is to go on a family adventure. Why not take part in a Treasure Trail session, try some Field Archery, or go on a Wildlife Walk during your Center Parcs break?
Rangan says: “If you’re lost in creating adventures together, you’ve switched off from all the stuff that’s going on in your life. You’re being present, you’re being attentive to yourself and the people around you. These shared experiences together in nature bonds us, and that lowers our stress levels.”