The Four Pillar Plan

Following my brother’s suicide in April 2017 I discovered the Calm app and meditation, it helped me immensely with anxiety at the time, learning to focus on my breathing rather than that which had happened. In recent times the app has introduced Masterclasses, a wonderful addition whereby experts talk on relevant topics such as depression, anxiety, and one I happened to listed to on the weekend by UK doctor Dr Rangan Chatterjee entitled “The Four Pillar Plan”.

Dr Chatterjee’s Masterclass was quite interesting and inspired me to head to to purchase his book for a more in-depth understanding. In his Masterclass he identified the four pillars as being: relax, food, move and sleep. He mentioned having been a traditional doctor, treating the symptoms rather than the causes, but then reaching a point in his practice he felt things just weren’t working.

He had a mother bring in her son one day, he’d cut his wrists and the psychologist had sent them for a script to treat depression. His initial thoughts were to prescribe an anti-depressant drug, but then he stopped, after having listened to the boy’s story that included bullying and taunts of his looks he switched to enquiring how long he spent on social media each night. “Four hours or so” the reply. He prescribed not medication but rather limited exposure to social media for the week before returning. His mood had improved and continued to improve week after week.

The Four Pillar Plan involves looking at four key areas of your life and lifestyle. Relax, the first pillar involves taking time for self and switching off from the world. Here Dr Chatterjee suggests making use of the airplane mode on our phones and considering turning off of notifications that constantly beckon our attention.

The second pillar, food, involves minimising the processed foods in your diet and increasing the ‘rainbow’, having at least 5 different coloured vegetables in your diet each day as well as good fats like avocado and nuts. He mentions research showed eating within a 12-hour window had positive effects on blood sugars and sleep.

The third pillar, movement, involves getting off arse and working towards those 10,000 steps we all hear about in national health programs. Also, include strength training within your exercise regime as he mentions loss of muscle mass independently affects mortality, improves resilience and executive brain function, and our ability to resolve conflicts. He suggests even doing as little as the 5-minute kitchen workout eat day can give benefits, this involving lunges, squats, tricep dips, floor press-ups etc. Also suggested were regular, throughout the day, 2-minute movement “snacks” whereby we get the heart working through mini-workouts.

The final pillar, but by no means the least, is sleep. Dr Chatterjee mentions we are currently experiencing a sleep depression epidemic that is leading to increases in stress and anxiety, and poor food choices. Another side-effect of long-term sleep problems is Type-2 diabetes; increased build-up of beta amyloid protein within the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease; memory decline; and chronic disease. His prescription to improve things? We need to embrace morning light as increasingly we’re staying indoors more and more and not getting enough natural light; a dark room when we go do sleep at night, and switching the tech off 90 minutes before you go to sleep; keep your caffeine intake before noon; and avoid drinking in the evenings.

I’m only part-way through the kindle book thus far, it’s a really good, easy read. I’d encourage your having a read, it’s inexpensive at only a few dollars on Amazon Kindle:

51x9y71vt9lThe 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life
by Dr Rangan Chatterjee


Day off, and what do I do?

Are you like me? You have a Monday booked off to enjoy a long weekend then promptly log into your workplace webmail to check what’s going on. Not once, not twice, but multiple times throughout the day.

It’s sad, really. But that’s exactly what I did today, and I answered one or two emails too. Ugh! Someone take my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro and lock them away, clearly I am incapable of just stepping away for even a day.

Why is it I do this? Nothing was critical and urgently requiring my attention, yet I felt compelled to do so. No pressure by my employer for me to do so I might add, all my end.

Perhaps I need an app to block my access to these sites / apps for specified dates that once I enter lock out dates and/or periods I cannot get around it. Do these even exist? I’d probably need to stop myself uninstalling said app too LOL

Small steps I guess.

Research manager accreditation

As part of this year’s professional development I decided to pursue my foundation accreditation with the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS). It’s sort of a rush to the finish line, four of the five units over two days, then walk very slowly to the ribbon in November for the final unit, where you deviate to write a case study before crossing the line.

I spent a long weekend reading the booklets for units one and two, about Australia’s Research & Innovation System and Legislation and Regulations in Research. I struggled to stay awake for the legal, both the content and style of writing made it a heavy topic, though understandably so. Last night I kicked off reading about a Research and a the Researcher, it’s quite interesting so far and serves to explain why some can be anti establishment.

The final unit, though not written by my manager, will be delivered by her on Research Data and Analytics. I don’t touch this in my team, but I do observe others who do, and some of the things they produce are indeed very interesting and increasingly called upon by senior management. My final unit, in November, is on Research Integrity and should be quite useful to my role given I’m checking others input into systems.

It will be interesting to see what is required of the case study at the end of this, detail on this is light-on at the moment. At least I can draw upon experiences of others in the office who’ve already done this to understand what was expected I guess.

Another weekend on the couch, strangely not watching much Netflix though o.O

The Voice: Sam Perry

There was a bit of a buzz on Oz TV the other night over Perth layered voice artist Sam Perry. Sam performed Prince’s When Doves Cry, however unlike other performers on The Voice who reply upon a band to support their performance, Sam brought with him a special deck that he uses to layer and loop his own voice. Man, it was something special, it really appealed to me, and I don’t even watch The Voice. The controversy came post-performance when all four judges were battling for him to join his team, Boy George later slammed him for relying upon technology saying the show wasn’t The Technology but The Voice – sore loser much? He seemed to enjoy his performance if you watch the link below. Hmmm.

Check out his performance here:

MKR: Has the show lost the plot?

When My Kitchen Rules kicked off in Australia years ago it was all about the food and competing for the prize. The show was enjoyable to watch, just clean competition, teams exhibited their cooking skills in challenges and in the home restaurants in hopes of coming out on top.

Since season two the show’s editors and producers have increasingly, year upon year, focussed upon bitchiness between the teams and less on the cooking. This has become even more evident this year, with both Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games leading to breaks in the season, there has been a focus on a team being ejected from the competition at some point, it took around six weeks from the first ad till Sonya and Hadil were thrown out.

I wonder has the show just lost the plot, forgotten what it is about and over balanced the scales in favour of bitchiness over cooking, I think so. For the first time in years I am seriously reconsidering if I will bother with MKR in 2019, I’ve honestly had enough and may likely seek something better.

NBN in

And we’re up and running, it was relatively painless all things considered. Thankfully dad had advised to unplug my old modem before my time slot, thus thereby avoiding device compatibility issues that would lock our port.

I was surprised at not having to enter any password information to setup the modem, just plug in, turn on, and after up to 15 minutes all was done. In reality it was far less than 15 minutes, more like 5, but the sticker did say it could take as much.

We’ve elected to go mid-tier at 50Mbps and have connected today slightly faster at 52Mbps, so very happy. We have gained 48Mbps overnight, just wonderful. The first thing I did was upgrade to Netflix Ultra HD given I’ve a 4K tv, Lost in Space looks stunning in all its glory.

Our netphone is yet to have a password supplied, so we’re not entirely set up just yet, but we rarely use this aspect of our connection so hardly worrying.

Nice when something just works.

Heart Meditation

At work our Wellness Coordinator’s face lit up at finally having me turn up to something, for years she has been trying to having me participate in something yet my lazy self just never quite made the effort. I’ve been battling with stress and anxiety quite a bit lately, thus I was ‘finally’ interested to make the effort to partake in Fiona’s heart meditation during Tuesday lunchtime.

The session involves first placing your hands such that your fingers meet at your heart, this being used later during the session. We are then encouraged to close our eyes and begin taking a few deep breaths and to smile, first with our lips pressed, and then apart and to notice how the experience differs.

As the breathing continued I started to get a touch light headed, a little too much deep breathing I think. Thankfully, after returning to regular breathing I managed to feel a bit better within a few minutes. By end of the session I noticed myself feeling refreshed, something I hadn’t expected. The others who had joined me needed to return, however I stayed on for a further ten minutes to undergo a form of reiki before we both headed back to the office.

One of the other attendees said he’d been coming to the meditation sessions for the past year, he found it had lead to increased productivity which is certainly a real benefit.