TLC. Good old-fashioned tender, loving care. However, TLC could mean something different. In the realm of mental health, TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Change.
Dr. Alexis Custard-Mobley, LPC-S, LCDC, ADS, and licensed counselor at Nivati, defines Therapeutic Lifestyle Change as “a way of life in which one incorporates healthy changes as it relates to their needs. This can include exercise, proper nutrition and diet, effective relationships, self-care, relaxation, stress management, and other factors that one feels they need in their life.”
One could even argue that in today’s climate, we all need serious TLC and not just our favorite TV show or scrolling through social media. In order to cope with the stresses and demands of today, we need to take a more proactive approach and strive for meaningful changes in our lives.
What a Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Can Include
In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced the concept of a hierarchy of needs in a paper titled “A Theory of Human Motivation” and later expounded on this theory in his book, Motivation and Personality. Maslow suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other more advanced needs.
In order to incorporate Therapeutic Lifestyle Change into our lives, we need to ensure our basic needs are met. Dr. Custard-Mobly states that we are all different individuals and will therefore have different needs. Identifying which of your current needs are met and which ones are not is crucial.
Things that can considered a lifestyle change, according to Cassandra Singh, MHC-LP, are:
- Stress management
- Positive relationships
- A positive mindset
- Participating in activities that you enjoy
Essentially, things that help you feel whole and complete and support wellbeing.
Benefits of Therapeutic Lifestyle Change
The benefits of incorporating Therapeutic Lifestyle Change into your life include improvements to your physical and mental health as well as increasing your lifespan. Dr. Custard-Mobley argues that “When these things are taken care of, you’re helping the body to become more resilient so that it can rebound from tough situations when they do occur.”
Not only are we improving our overall health right now, but we are contributing to our health in the future.
Now, in this case, the pros to this type of change far outweigh the cons. However, it is still important to be realistic and recognize the difficulties of Therapeutic Lifestyle Change.
Therapeutic Lifestyle Change can be difficult to implement. And, as in all things, you may have to give up something now to gain something better later. For example, you may have to sacrifice your time, money, or old habits. However, keeping in mind your “why” for the change can make the sacrifices seem small.
How To Incorporate More Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Into Your Life
Now that we understand the benefits of a therapeutic lifestyle change, we can start the implementation process. However, before we dive in, a word of caution when starting down the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change path, it is impossible to incorporate all the changes you may want to make at once. In fact, trying to incorporate everything at the same time can lead to feelings of overwhelm.
In order to give yourself the best shot at success, break down your desired outcomes into bite-sized pieces. Using things such as S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goal planning is a great place to start. Dr. Custard-Mobley advises that consistency, realism, and authenticity are crucial to implementing any kind of change in your life.
So what does it mean to be consistent? Consistency is an adherence to the same principles, course, or form. “In order to start to see the benefits of these changes I believe that the consistency of implementing these changes should be for 66 days straight. That is about the average time it takes for a behavior to become automatic,” says Singh.
Next is to be realistic. Having a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected will keep long-term goals from becoming nonexistent goals. “Make sure it is something that you think you can do long-term. For example, if you are currently an omnivore, maybe don’t try to say you’re going vegan right away. Pick something close that is attainable for you,” says Dr. Custard-Mobley.
According to mindtools.com, authenticity means “You’re true to your own personality, values, and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you’re under to act otherwise. You are honest with yourself and with others, and you take responsibility for your mistakes. Your values, ideals, and actions align.”
Choose goals and changes that are true to who you are as a person. This may take some self-reflection and meditation. Don’t implement something into your life just because someone else is doing it in theirs. It may not be right for you, and if a goal isn’t authentic to who you are, it will be harder to reach
When consistency, realism, and authenticity combine, it is a recipe for success when it comes to Therapeutic Lifestyle Change.
Tools to Help You Practice Therapeutic Lifestyle Change
Though you will be doing the bulk of the work on your own to implement these changes, Dr. Custard-Mobly and Singh recommend some outside tools to help you on your way. Their suggestions are:
- The Insight Timer App
- Regular check-ups with your care provider
- Employee Assistant Programs and mental health programs through your employer
- The Focus Keeper App
- 15 minutes of sunshine a day
- The book “Living Life Like You Mean It” by Ronald J Fredrick
Taking on a Therapeutic Lifestyle Change can feel overwhelming. It is okay to feel overwhelmed. Just take a deep breath and take it one step at a time. As the old adage says, “slow and steady wins the race.”
Dr. Custard-Mobley assures us that “not every day will be perfect, but the small changes turn into big steps which create lifestyle changes.”
Therapeutic Lifestyle Change At Work
When incorporating Therapeutic Lifestyle Change at work, it is the little things that can make the biggest difference. Eating lunch, utilizing breaks, having a tidy workspace, getting fresh air, making a list of goals or accomplishments related to your career, unplugging from social media at work, and interacting with your coworkers are all forms of TLC.
“It is important to integrate these changes into your workday because it can allow for better performance at work, decrease the chance of burnout, and overall enjoy the work that you are doing,” Singh said.
Practicing Therapeutic Lifestyle Change at work is important because it gives you a chance to decompress and recharge throughout the day.
“If you think about it, our brains never shut off. Even when we are sleeping, it tells our organs what to do to keep us alive while we are unconscious. Giving your brain a break by making your lifestyle as stress-free as possible is needed because you only get one body and one mind. Use it wisely,” says Dr. Custard-Mobley.
Embracing a Therapeutic Lifestyle Change can add so much calm, resilience, and growth to our lives.
We hope these suggestions help you on your journey to becoming a better version of yourself.
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