The pace and structure of modern life are undeniably different from the picture of daily living experienced hundreds of thousands of years ago. While we’ve accomplished many spectacular and meaningful things as we’ve progressed as a civilization (as well as some not-so-positive bits and pieces), we’ve also dramatically changed the way we live, from the most overarching principles of dwelling and working to details such as diet and sleep. When you take into account the fact depression has exponentially multiplied in many modern populations, with rates sometimes doubling within the space of a single decade, it’s not too much of a stretch to wonder if these two major changes in mankind’s way of life have any telling relationship.
The investigation of what this relationship might look like has been the focus of a few academic inquiries into modern therapy and related topics lately, and a project at the University of Kansas has recently been exploring how recreating some conditions of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle could potentially improve clients’ lives. The project encompasses a range of habits and practices, encouraging participants to spend more time outside in the sunlight and to eat omega-3 fatty acids, substances commonly found in fish which have significantly decreased in many world populations. Participants are also involved in a regular exercise program, and make sure they receive a healthy amount of sleep. Through engaging activities, they achieve a higher level of social interaction than previously experienced, as well.
While these measures are not intended to replace or somehow negate the benefits of psychotherapy, the Kansas University team hopes to amass evidence showing that the return to some primitive practices can improve and support mental health, with the potential to supplement counseling.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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