The more Dr. Ilardi looked at the commonalities of these mentally healthy societies, the more he was able to tease out certain common variables that he was then able to operationalize in his groundbreaking research dubbed the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Project. He took clinically depressed subjects and then incorporated several of these therapeutic lifestyle changes into their lives for several weeks.
The results? They experienced phenomenal outcomes: people who had suffered from mental health, anxiety, and depression for many years saw amazing–and measurable–improvements. Indeed, these improvements were statistically significant, not only when compared to control groups, but also when compared to people who had been treated only with depression medications.
And what were these magical lifestyle changes? Getting regular daily exercise; getting plenty of natural sunlight; getting ample sleep every night; eating an Omega-3 rich diet; being involved in some type of social activity where social connections were made; and participation in meaningful tasks that leave little time for negative thoughts or rumination.
Along with traditional psychotherapy, we’ve incorporated those “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes” into the clinical protocols of Omega Recovery. Unplugging from our devices, developing a sense of healing community, physical exercise, immersing oneself in nature–those things alone can be more therapeutic than sitting for an hour in a therapist’s chair and venting about your life.
Of course, there is value to traditional psychotherapy, which our master’s level clinicians also do at Omega Recovery–but there is something even more special, more healing–and more transformative–when combined with nature immersion, somatic and experiential therapies, and the above-mentioned Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes.
Indeed, outdoor nature immersion, also known as “Adventure Therapy” has been researched as OBH (Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare), more typically associated with adolescent wilderness-style programs, but which also applies to the nature immersion and adventure therapy we are doing at Omega. So hiking the Greenbelt, kayaking, biking, mindfulness walks at Zilker Park, exercising with their clinical group at the Town Lake YMCA…all of these activities can be incredibly grounding and can help restore a person to a more balanced and emotionally and psychologically healthy way of being.