Roger Walsh is not a specialist. He is a University of California professor of psychiatry with degrees in neuroscience, psychology, physiology, and medicine, and joint appointments in anthropology and philosophy in addition to his primary appointment in Psychiatry and Human Behavior.
On the basis of all that, and maybe also his stint as a circus acrobat, he has a big tip for you: make some lifestyle changes!
If you are a reader of writings on happiness and self-help, many of Walsh’s tips will sound familiar. What is different is where Walsh is coming from. He’s a mental health professional telling other mental health professionals that they just don’t get it about the profound importance of what he calls TLC – therapeutic lifestyle change.
In fact, on the basis of scientific evidence, he believes that some of these TLCs are more effective than drugs or therapy. What’s more,
“Unlike both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy, they are free of stigma and can even confer social benefits and social esteem.”
Professor Walsh is not anti-therapy. Well, not any more. As he explained to a reporter for a publication of the University of California at Riverside,
“I went into therapy because I didn’t have much faith that it really worked, and I wanted to see for myself,” he says. “A couple years later, I staggered out of there a very different person. It was perhaps the most transformative experience of my life.”
Without further ado, here are Professor Walsh’s Big Eight TLCs (not in any particular order), from his article in the October 2011 American Psychologist, “Lifestyle and mental health”:
- Time in nature
- Relaxation and stress management
- Service to others
- Nutrition and diet
- Spiritual or religious involvement
From what I have learned about people who are single, and especially those who are single at heart, I think that the suggestion to spend more time in nature is especially likely to resonate. I also especially appreciated that Walsh’s section on relationships begins with a paean not to coupledom but to friendship.
Girl in field photo available from Shutterstock