The 4th Factor
Dr. Schlegelmilch's Big 3: Sleep, Exercise, and Nutrition, in that order. I have written on this topic a number of times, and each time I come back to it, it continues to be relevant. I estimate that the vast majority of problems and concerns I deal with in therapy with clients could either be made less severe or, in some cases, resolved, with proper attention to the Big 3. I cannot stress how important it is to care for the needs of your body, and how proper care for your body can positively influence the mind on every level.
More and more these days, however, I am meeting people who lack or struggle in a 4th area. Indeed, I have had the opportunity to meet people whose problems and struggles seem to be defined or greatly influenced by an additional variable: Purpose. Purpose can also be called "meaning," in certain resepcts, but it occurs as the result of being industrious and seeing some aspect of reality positively changed by your efforts, and better because of your presence and intervention.
Interestingly, obtaining a sense of purpose is often necessary for people to pay attention to and do something about taking care of their body. Despite being animals, at our core, we still cannot help but ask the "why" questions that are at the root of one's sense of purpose.
How do you move from a state of limited, insufficient, or no purpose (which I think is theoretically impossible, by the way) to a healthy and effective level of purpose? This is another topic for another day, but for now I am assessing in therapy not just people's Big 3 health behaviors, but also asking them if they feel they have meaning and purpose, and experience a sense of accomplishment at least daily.