In this brief blog, I hope to explore several lifestyle medicine strategies (sleep hygiene, stress management, social connectedness) and how they may be included in therapeutic interventions to improve clinical outcomes. Frates and colleagues define lifestyle medicine as "The use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a predominately whole-food and plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substance use, and other non-drug modalities to treat, oftentimes reverse, and prevent the lifestyle-related, chronic disease that's all too prevalent."1 Figure 1, adapted from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, outlines the six pillars of lifestyle medicine.
Figure 1. Components of lifestyle medicine
Sleep Hygiene in Patient Education
The following are some simple patient education strategies that may help patients improve sleep:2-5
- Establish a regular bedtime and waking hours (avoid or minimize "social jet lag" that may be due to work, school, or your personal schedule).
- Create a comfortable room that is cool, dark, and quiet.
- Sleep in a comfortable bed and make sure it's not too old.
- Use a supportive and comfortable pillow and ensure it's not too old.
- Eliminate nighttime caffeine and limit daytime caffeine.
- Do not wear tight or restrictive clothing during sleep
- Avoid alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
- Do not smoke or use nicotine.
- Eliminate/limit after-dinner and late-night snacking.
- Limit or avoid computer use and smartphone use near bedtime.
- Avoid intense exercise near bedtime. However, do exercise and be physically active during the day.
- Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI).
- Avoid watching intense television shows before bedtime.
- Turn off the radio and television before going to sleep.
- Avoid bright light near bedtime, but do increase daytime exposure to sunlight.
- Consider reducing your fluid intake near bedtime to avoid (or minimize) getting up to go to the bathroom, but maintain adequate hydration during the day.
- Minimize sugar and salt intake near bedtime as it may cause increased trips to the bathroom.
- Learn strategies to reduce daily stress so it does not result in poor quality and quantity of sleep.
- Minimize a tense or stressful lifestyle since this may carry over into sleep.
- Embrace mindfulness before bedtime
- Consider meditating close to bedtime or using a body scan or progressive muscle relaxation technique.
- Consider tai chi, qigong, or yoga later in the day.
- Establish a bedtime ritual such as:
- One hour before going to sleep, shut down all phone and computer devices. Then you can either read a book or watch a funny television show (drama may be too stimulating).
- Five minutes before you go to sleep, brush your teeth and floss, wash your hands and face with lavender soap, and shut off all the lights before slipping into your cozy bed with gratitude and pleasant thoughts.
Stress Management Patient Education
The following are some simple patient education strategies that may help patients manage stress:6
- Try yoga, tai chi, qigong
- Use aromatherapy (such as lavender)
- Engage in outdoor physical activities such as walking, hiking, and biking
- Engage in outdoor activities such as gardening
- Participate in hobbies such as reading, pottery, painting, and playing music
- Play with pets
- Get a massage
- Get involved in social activities such as volunteering, coaching, and community dancing
- Listen to music
- Smile and laugh more by watching comedy movies or television shows
Social Connectedness Patient Education
The following are some simple patient education strategies that may help patients improve socialization and social connectedness to form nurturing and constructive relationships:7-13
- Attend local sporting events, music performances, or art and museum exhibits.
- Connect with family and friends locally or on Zoom.
- Connect with your physician, therapist, wellness, or fitness professional via telehealth-delivered services.
- Create or join a community garden club.
- Create or join a lunchtime walking, yoga, or tai chi club.
- Engage in conventional group exercises such as softball, volleyball, basketball, pickleball, paddle tennis, or tennis.
- Engage in mind-body exercises such as yoga, tai chi, or Pilates.
- Engage in work-related community activities and fitness programs.
- Engage in small conversations with cashiers and employees at various stores you visit.
- Engage with members at your community place of worship.
- Enroll in art-based community activities, such as art, dance, drama, music, poetry, pottery, or expressive writing classes.
- Enroll at a local or community college to take cooking, history, or astronomy classes.
- Get a library card and participate in book club events.
- Get involved in nature-based activities, such as bird watching, botanical garden and park visits, farmer's market shopping, forest bathing or hiking, gardening, or walks at a lake, river, or beach.
- Join a group, such as a local bicycling club, chess, or table tennis club, or participate in your favorite hobby.
- Join a gym or fitness center.
- Join self-help groups.
- Join social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.
- Play with your pets.
- Volunteer at a community center, hospital, school, or library.
- Volunteer to coach sports or mentor students.
- Walk with a mall club or create one in your neighborhood
If you are interested in learning more about these topics and others, please see my course Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine Toolbox for Rehab and Pain Management with Herman & Wallace.
Resources for Clinicians:
Learn how to include integrative and lifestyle medicine into your clinical practice with these resources:
Ziya "Z" Altug, PT, DPT, MS, OCS is a board-certified doctor of physical therapy with 32 years of clinical experience treating musculoskeletal injuries. Z currently provides outpatient physical therapy in the home setting in Los Angeles, California, and serves as a continuing education instructor.
Z received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh in 1989, Master of Science in Sport and Exercise Studies in 1985 and Bachelor of Science in Physical Education in 1983 from West Virginia University, and a Doctor of Physical Therapy from the College of St. Scholastica in 2015. Z is a long-standing member of the American Physical Therapy Association and a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He has attended workshops in yoga, tai chi, qigong, Pilates, Feldenkrais Method, and the Alexander Technique.
Z is the author of the books Integrative Healing: Developing Wellness in the Mind and Body (2018), The Anti-Aging Fitness Prescription (2006), and Manual of Clinical Exercise Testing, Prescription, and Rehabilitation (1993). In 2020, he published the chapter Exercise, Dance, Tai Chi, Pilates, and Alexander Technique in The Handbook of Wellness Medicine. In 2021, he published the article Lifestyle Medicine for Chronic Lower Back Pain: An Evidence-Based Approach in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
- Frates, B., Bonnet, J.P., Joseph, R., & Peterson, J.A. (2019). Lifestyle Medicine Handbook: An Introduction to the Power of Healthy Habits. Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning.
- Altug Z. Integrative Healing: Developing Wellness in the Mind and Body. Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, Inc.; 2018.
- Kryger MH, Roth T, Goldstein CA. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (2 Volume set), 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021
- Matsuo T, Miyata Y, Sakai H. Effect of salt intake reduction on nocturia in patients with excessive salt intake. Neurourol Urodyn. 2019;38(3):927-933.
- Vitale KC, Owens R, Hopkins SR, Malhotra A. Sleep hygiene for optimizing recovery in athletes: review and recommendations. Int J Sports Med. 2019;40(8):535-543.
- American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Handout: Lifestyle stress reduction. American College of Lifestyle Medicine; 2019.
- Leavell MA, Leiferman JA, Gascon M, Braddick F, Gonzalez JC, Litt JS. Nature-based social prescribing in urban settings to improve social connectedness and mental well-being: a review. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2019;6(4):297-308.
- National Institutes of Health. Social Wellness Toolkit. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health. Accessed on June 2022.
- Roland M, Everington S, Marshall M. Social prescribing - transforming the relationship between physicians and their patients. N Engl J Med. 2020;383(2):97-99.
- Choi NG, Pepin R, Marti CN, Stevens CJ, Bruce ML. Improving social connectedness for homebound older adults: randomized controlled trial of tele-delivered behavioral activation versus tele-delivered friendly visits. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2020;28(7):698-708.
- Davidson KW, Krist AH, Tseng CW, et al. Incorporation of social risk in US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations and identification of key challenges for primary care. JAMA. 2021;326(14):1410-1415.
- Eder M, Henninger M, Durbin S, et al. Screening and interventions for social risk factors: technical brief to support the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA. 2021;326(14):1416-1428.
- Steinman L, Parrish A, Mayotte C, et al. Increasing social connectedness for underserved older adults living with depression: a pre-post evaluation of PEARLS. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2021;29(8):828-842.
Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine Toolbox for Rehab and Pain Management
January 21, 2023
Experience Level: Beginner
Contact Hours: 4.5
Description: This course was written and developed by Ziya “Z” Altug, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, a board-certified doctor of physical therapy with 32 years of experience in treating musculoskeletal conditions, Brief lectures on the research and resources and labs will cover a toolbox approach for creating clinically relevant pain, anxiety, depression, and stress management strategies using lifestyle medicine, integrative medicine, expressive and art-based therapies, and the impact of nature on health. Participants will be able to practice Tai Chi/Qigong, expressive and art-based therapies including Music, Dance, and Drama Therapy, nature and aromatic therapies, self-hypnosis, and self-massage.