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
Participation in meaningful tasks that leave little time for negative thoughts or rumination.
We’ve incorporated those “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes” into the clinical protocols of Maui 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 Maui Recovery–but there is something even more special, more healing–and more transformative–when combined with nature immersion and the above-mentioned Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes.
Nature immersion alone is an evidence-based intervention. Having adventures in the magical beauty of Maui–hiking up Haleakala, diving off of a waterfall, enjoying a majestic sunset–all have therapeutic value. Especially for people that have fallen into toxic and self-destructive and addictive habits.
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 in Maui.