The perfect performance-enhancing drug, a shocking approach to wellness, and tapas of pleasure

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison

RECHARGE QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“What are you without racism? Are you any good? Are you still strong? Still smart? Do you still like yourself?…If you can only be tall because someone’s on their knees, then you have a serious problem.”

Toni Morrison recharged us all with her appeals to conscience and empathy.

 


Welcome to The 5-Minute Recharge Newsletter with the latest news in wellness.


1. 
WHAT IF EXERCISE WAS IN YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION?

“I’m not a professional athlete–as a writer, I’m far from it–but I do treat exercise like it’s a part of my job.”
Brad Stulberg

In The 5-Minute Recharge we stress the importance of physical activity as a miracle drug, but it’s even more than that: according to Harvard’s associate professor of psychiatry John Ratey, drugs that treat mental health disorders focus on individual neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine or norepinephrine. Exercise works on a range of neurotransmitters and seems to put them in an ideal balance. And exercise primes the brain for creativity, problem solving and learning which makes it the perfect performance-enhancing drug. But perhaps the best thing that exercise does is that it gets us comfortable with being uncomfortable, and teaches us that our daily decisions can transform us.

Not a week goes by it seems without another example of physical activity being used to treat some kind of mental affliction. In this case, it’s ADHD and autism and the activity is surfing, echoing the words of mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn who said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

2. 
A SHOCKING APPROACH TO BREAKING A BAD HABIT

“I decided to try shocking myself out of my social media habit instead.”
Nicole Dieker describes how she used an electronic shock bracelet to break a nasty Twitter habit

For those of you who want to take habit-breaking to a 450-volt level, there is Pavlok, a bracelet that delivers self-administered shocks of various intensities. And, if the anecdotal evidence is to be believed, it seems to work. Maneesh Sethi invented Pavlok after hiring someone to slap him every time he indulged in his social media habit. At least he didn’t invent The Slapper.

And in related unconventional therapy, people are flocking to “cleanfluencers” to take refuge from the chaos of the world and get some relief from anxiety, depression and stress by watching someone else clean.

“You can’t control everything in your life. You might have a very stressful job, but you can make your bed. You can at least be on top of that aspect of your life and sort of feel like you have your shit together.”
–Cleanfluencer Shelly (MissHendyHome) Hendy

3.
TAPAS OF PLEASURE

“We get miserable, not because things are necessarily really so awful, but because they fall short of the standard we have demanded.”
–The School of Life, Small Pleasures

It’s not the intensity of positive experiences that matters–our brains don’t know the difference between a big thrill and a cheap thrill–but the frequency. This is great news. Rather than base your happiness on the exotic vacation that may or may not meet your standards, enjoy daily tapas of pleasure–a conversation, a walk or a mindful taste of your favourite food. In other words, 5-minute recharges.

Tapas of pleasure work because they trigger happy thoughts, and our thoughts determine our feelings. Problem is our thoughts often short circuit our wellbeing with an endless self-critique. Cultivating compassion can soothe your inner critic, and cognitive therapy can rewrite its script.

4.
IS DEPRESSION A SIGNAL?

“If you find your work meaningless and you feel you have no control over it, you are far more likely to be depressed. If you are lonely and feel that you can’t rely on the people around you to support you, you are far more likely to become depressed. If you think life is all about buying things and climbing up the ladder, you are far more likely to become depressed.”
–Johann Hari

Johann Hari challenges the way we think about depression as a chemical imbalance and encourages us to think of it as a psychological signal, analogous to the physical pain we feel when we hold our hand over a flame. What if the signal that depression (and anxiety) is sending is that the way we’re living is wrong?

5.
THE FAST FIVE