THE STRESS FAC­TOR

Cheshire Life: Jan­uary 2019 Wilm­slow-based TV medic Dr Ran­gan Chat­ter­jee re­veals why he is on a mis­sion to make us the ar­chi­tects of our own health

Cheshire Life - - Personalities -

To mil­lions of view­ers Dr Ran­gan Chat­ter­jee is the youth­ful TV medic who dis­penses ad­vice via the BBC One’s Break­fast and his Doc­tor in the House TV se­ries. But to those in Wilm­slow he’s their GP - or rather he was un­til his me­dia ca­reer took off.

Along­side the TV work and an award-win­ning pod­cast, he has writ­ten two books. The first, The 4 Pil­lar Plan, has sold an as­ton­ish­ing 150,000 copies and his sec­ond, The Stress So­lu­tion, which is re­leased this month, looks like it may re­peat the same suc­cess, cov­er­ing as it does the big­gest health topic around, stress.

‘The things I am most proud of in my ca­reer are the things I have been do­ing for the last five years which is what I do in the me­dia,’ ad­mits Ran­gan, who still oc­ca­sion­ally does locum work at the Ken­more Med­i­cal Cen­tre on Alder­ley Road.

‘What I do on the tele­vi­sion and what I do in my books is to try and im­pact the health of as many peo­ple as I can. I want to em­power them to be the ar­chi­tects of their own health.’

Dr Ran­gan has lived much of his 41 years in Wilm­slow, where he was a pupil at Pow­nall Hall School. He later went to Manch­ester Gram­mar School, and spent seven years study­ing medicine at Ed­in­burgh but re­turned to Wilm­slow to help look af­ter his sick fa­ther.

‘I came back to Wilm­slow to help my mum and my brother look af­ter my fa­ther who was very un­well,’ he re­veals.

‘Dad passed away five and a half years ago and by that time I was mar­ried, set­tled, my kids were here and it’s just a lovely place to have a fam­ily.’

‘When I am not prac­tis­ing, I am in Lon­don a lot and I love get­ting off the train at Wilm­slow sta­tion. It just feels calm and re­laxed and I feel like I’m home.’

It is when he pays his house calls to peo­ple around the UK on Doc­tor in the House that it re­ally hits home just how priv­i­leged he is. ‘I think I’m very lucky.’ he says. ‘When I filmed my two se­ries of Doc­tor in the House and was go­ing around the coun­try stay­ing with dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies it re­ally high­lighted to me how for­tu­nate I was. Ob­vi­ously Wilm­slow is a nice place to grow up in, I went to de­cent schools and I think academia is some­thing I didn’t re­ally strug­gle with but I don’t take that for granted. ‘

An­other thing he doesn’t take for granted is the TV and writ­ing that has given him a wider plat­form for his views on how the modern world is im­pact­ing on our health and well­be­ing.

‘The rea­son I wrote this book is be­cause there had been re­ports say­ing that 80 per cent of what a GP sees ev­ery day is some way re­lated to stress. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion says that stress is the health epi­demic of the 21st cen­tury,’ he says.

‘I’ve al­ways had a slight frus­tra­tion about how I was be­ing told to prac­tise. I re­alised that for 20 per cent of my pa­tients it worked re­ally well but the 70-80 per­cent I thought “I’m just putting stick­ing plas­ters on here. I am not get­ting to the cause of their prob­lems,” so I de­cided to go on a mis­sion. I went around the world train­ing with top sci­en­tists and doc­tors to learn how you find the root cause of some­one’s prob­lem and the more I was do­ing the

‘I love get­ting off the train at Wilm­slow sta­tion. It just feels calm and re­laxed and I feel like I’m home’

more I re­alised that a lot of the symp­toms we see in prac­tice are in some way re­lated to our modern lifestyle.

‘I am not putting blame on peo­ple. I am not say­ing peo­ple are do­ing it to them­selves. I think it is very hard these days to live a healthy lifestyle. ‘

As a GP he has seen an in­crease in symp­toms such as lack of en­ergy, in­som­nia, in­abil­ity to con­cen­trate, anx­i­ety and low li­bido.

‘Anx­i­ety is rife these days,’ he says.

‘When you’re stressed, in the short term, cor­ti­sol, which is one of your body’s stress re­sponses goes up, your brain goes onto high alert that’s bril­liant but when your brain is on high alert day in day out you get anx­ious. Sud­denly, an in­no­cent email from your boss is seen as a pre­lude to get­ting sacked and an in­no­cent com­ment on so­cial me­dia is some­thing you take re­ally per­son­ally and think peo­ple are at­tack­ing you. Why? Be­cause your emo­tional brain is on high alert. That’s a good thing for vig­i­lance and threats if an an­i­mal is at­tack­ing you, it’s not a good thing to be hap­pen­ing day in day out. There are count­less ex­am­ples like that in which a short term re­sponse which helps us is harm­ful in the long term.’

‘What I have tried to do with the book is sim­plify it so peo­ple can iden­tify where stress ex­ists in their lives and then give them sim­ple ac­tion­able tools they can ap­ply, hope­fully in un­der 10 min­utes a day to help get on top of it. These are the same tools I use with my pa­tients. Things they can fit in with their lives.

‘There are plenty of tips in the book and they can all be per­son­alised, but if there’s one thing you can do I’d prob­a­bly have to say it’s just 15 min­utes a day of “me time” with­out any tech­nol­ogy. I think it is one of the most pow­er­ful things we can do in the 21st cen­tury. Give our brains, our minds a bit of si­lence from all the con­stant stream of noise. Or we can sit down and lis­ten to some mu­sic. Some­thing where you can unashamedly switch off with­out feel­ing any guilt.

‘The way we use new tech­nol­ogy is hav­ing se­ri­ous con­se­quences on our mem­ory and vi­tal­ity and on our re­la­tion­ships too.

‘In the book I say most cou­ples are hav­ing an iaf­fair with their phones. We touch the curvy con­tours of our phone more than our part­ner. It’s slightly provoca­tive, but I think we can all re­late to that. I cover things in the book like in­ti­macy and how that’s re­ally gone out of so­ci­ety and re­la­tion­ships. I think con­stantly hav­ing our phones with us all the time is now the new nor­mal.

‘But I am re­ally not about de­mon­is­ing tech­nol­ogy. It’s about say­ing this is a new tech­nol­ogy and we need some rules around it.’ The Stress So­lu­tion is pub­lished by Pen­guin on Jan­uary 3rd dr­chat­ter­jee.com

‘Most cou­ples are hav­ing an iaf­fair with their phones’

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