A lot of attention is given to the importance of our physical and mental health, but what about our spiritual health?
As it turns out, our mind, body and spirit are deeply intertwined. The health of one can significantly affect the health of another. While spirituality won’t heal you, it will help you deal with pain and navigate choppy waters.
But what is spiritual health? Does it need religious ideals and beliefs, worship, guilt and atonement? You may be surprised to know that there isn’t one path you have to follow to be spiritually healthy – it’s different for everyone.
“Some people experience spirituality through religion, but religion is not the only tool to experience it,” said Carrie Wester, a chaplain at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital in Scottsdale, AZ. “Spirituality is a sense of inner well-being and how to connect with something greater than oneself – be it a higher power, nature, music, art or humanity as a whole. It is the ideals and beliefs that you form throughout your life that form your own unique spirituality.”
What are the benefits of spiritual health?
Read more: 1 Angel Number – Meaning and Symbolism
The benefits of being spiritual being a person are endless. “It can create a sense of purpose and belonging, help you feel calmer and more mindful, and inspire hope when things aren’t going your way,” Wester said. “The most important thing is that spirituality can give hope when it doesn’t feel or look like there is one. Many spiritual practices can help you find or find peace.”
8 Ways to Boost Your Spiritual Health
Some people find spirituality through religion and some don’t. There is no right or wrong way to achieve spiritual health. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ways to get you started.
1. Connect with Your Faith Community
According to a Gallup study, 43% of Americans say they belong to a church or other religious community that network and encourage people with mental illness to make community connections.
Find someone or an organization that shares your beliefs and thoughts and reconnect with them – whether online, by phone or in person. Consult a pastor or spiritual leader and find ways to connect with like-minded people in your faith community who can provide support and encouragement.
“During the pandemic, many people’s support systems have been taken away from them — Church, volunteerism, support groups,” Wester said. “It was really hard for those who were already struggling with mental health issues. Once they feel physically safe, I encourage people to reconnect with their faith community.”
2. Volunteer or help others
If you don’t have a religious community, that’s fine. Another way to feel connected to your spirituality and faith is to find something you care about and give back. You can work in a pantry, become a mentor or tutor, or take care of an animal. This allows you to grow your community and connect with like-minded people. By helping others, it will also give you a sense of purpose and gratitude.
3. Practice Yoga
You don’t have to be a yogi to reap the spiritual benefits of practice. Yoga is for everyone at every level. Besides strengthening and stretching your body, it can help your mind and spirit by reducing symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.
Like yoga, you don’t need to be a meditation expert. Meditation is one of the easiest practices to cultivate as it takes little time. “Some people think you have to sit and be quiet, but that’s not true,” Wester said. “You can walk and meditate, paying attention to how your feet feel on the ground or the details of your surroundings. Just practicing slowing down your body can help slow down your brain.”
Meditation for just five minutes can help reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, and increase your mindfulness. If you need help, there are some excellent guided meditation apps like Calm or Balance.
5. Keep a Journal
Writing can help you process your emotions, increase your awareness, and give you an unbiased space to express your feelings in the moment. Write down your worries and fears or start a daily gratitude journal with prompts.
6. Spend time in nature
Whether you live in the mountains, in the desert, or near the beach, spending time in nature can boost your mental health. You can’t help but disconnect from your phone, your day and your problems. Just a few minutes watching the birds, the trees swaying in the wind or the waves crashing on the shore can be therapeutic.
7. Focus on your hobbies
Find things you enjoy doing, whether it’s knitting, painting, cooking, exercising or playing sports. If you focus on things you enjoy, you can rediscover your purpose and keep your focus in the moment – even just for a while.
8.Speak to a Counselor or Trusted Person
If you are having trouble connecting to your spiritual side or mental health, speak to a specially trained or trusted person who can help you.
“Chaplains are trained specifically for faith struggles in a clinical setting,” Wester said. They can help validate your feelings and won’t overwhelm them—by wiping them away. They can guide you back on your spiritual path.”
If you need help right now
If you are separated from your faith community and are finding it difficult (mentally, physically and/or or spiritually) , talk to your healthcare provider or consult a mental health professional. You are here to help.
- Loneliness or Loneliness: Why Embracing Alone Time Is Good for the Soul
- Awe-Spotting: 5 How Awe Can Change Your Life
- An Attitude of Gratitude: How to Foster a Positive Attitude