Given my driving theme of self-care in my clinical practice, writing, and my life, imagine the affirmation I felt when I opened the October issue of the lead journal for psychologists, The American Psychologist, and saw this article. This is what I’ve been preaching for years–and here’s a call for the rest of profession to catch up.
I love how Roger Walsh, Ph.D., author of the article has called labeled Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, “TLCs.” Such an apt abbreviation for the ways in which we all need to take better care of ourselves. The article cites research that backs up the effectiveness of TLCs for an emotionally and physically healthy life, particularly:
- nutrition and diet
- recreation and enjoyable activities
- relaxation and stress management
- religious and spiritual involvement
- contribution and service
TLCs can be potent, says Walsh. They can influence medical issues such as prostate cancer and coronary conditions. TLCs can be as effective as psychotherapy and medication for treating anxiety and depression.
The self-care survival plan I first wrote about in 1993, the foundation of most of my work, is to nurture yourself physically: rest, sleep, diet, exercise. I recommend dietary supplements and a diet rich in complex carbs, fruits, and vegetables to feed the brain and produce serotonin, the calming neurotransmitter. Developing a support system is step two; find ways to connect with like-minded persons. I recommend yoga, meditation, and breaks/time in nature as part of my emphasis on whole person wellness. But these changes are not easy. That’s one reason I’m writing about them here, to encourage all to practice a little TLC.
Remember this caveat, dear readers, whether you are driven, perfectionistic types who want to completely overhaul your lives or those who feel like you are barely keeping a sinking ship afloat: ONE CHANGE. We can easily overwhelm ourselves by trying to tackling too many changes. Five minutes a day. That’s all you need, for three weeks, until the first habit is sinking in. Then add one more change. And forget the “no time” lament. There are 10,880 minutes in a week. You can carve out 35 to 70 minutes a day to improve your life. There will still be 10,810 minutes left.
If I sound a little triumphant, it’s because this article was particularly vindicating given the tale a client shared with me recently about a local psychiatrist. She was trying to decide who could best help her address her issues, me vs. him. The “good” doctor scoffed at my methods and chosen interventions, calling them the “hippie, homeopathic route.” No question, I’ll be sending him a copy of the article.