Okay my friends, it’s time to get personal. Today I thought we could talk about what’s often referred to as the most personal dimension of our wellness – Spiritual Wellness.
As we talked about in What Is Wellness, Spiritual Wellness is one of the eight dimensions that make up our overall Wellness. For many of us, our religious beliefs shape who we are and keeps us spiritually healthy. For others, spiritual health may mean finding our purpose and making meaningful connections with the world around us.
For those of us who are Christ-followers, our faith shapes who we are and gives us our sense of purpose. Our relationship with Christ also results in our wanting to make those meaningful connections to others and share the good news of the Gospel. For us, Spiritual Wellness is being in close relationship with the Lord.
But let’s take a broader look at Spiritual Wellness – how it’s defined, how it can benefit us, and how we can improve it.
Defining Spiritual Wellness
First of all, let’s take look at some of the definitions of Spiritual Wellness:
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (1) defines Spiritual Wellness as “Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life.” An even better description might be:
Spiritual wellness is being connected to something greater than yourself and having a set of values, principles, morals and beliefs that provide a sense of purpose and meaning to life, then using those principles to guide your actions.The Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (2)
The University of New Hampshire (3) adds that
The spirit is the aspect of ourselves that can carry us through anything. If we take care of our spirit, we will be able to experience a sense of peace and purpose even when life deals us a severe blow. A strong spirit helps us to survive and thrive with grace, even in the face of difficulty.University of New Hampshire
That makes it pretty easy to see why Spiritual Wellness is such an important dimension of our overall wellness, and why it’s probably the most personal aspect.
How Does Good Spiritual Health Help Us?
Good spiritual health can benefit us in many ways. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- It enhances our overall sense of wellbeing.
- We’re more likely to have a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
- It can make our choices and decisions easier. When we have those guiding principles, decisions become much easier and our choices are based on those principles we’ve established for ourselves.
- Good spiritual health allows us to be resilient. When we experience adversity, we’re able to endure the struggle with grace and come back stronger than before.
- It helps strengthen the connection between the mind and the body. In fact, mindfulness practices have been shown to improve physical health in numerous ways. It can relieve stress, increase gray matter density in the brain, and help relieve anxiety and depression, just to name a few.
With all these benefits, it’s definitely worth taking the time to assess our Spiritual Wellness. Having an idea of where we’re at with this dimension can help us know if we’re where we want to be.
How Can I Assess My Spiritual Wellness?
Here are some questions that can help us assess how we’re doing:
- What gives me meaning and purpose?
- Do I spend time alone, giving thought to my place in the world around me?
- Am I clear on my values and guiding principles?
- What gives me hope?
- Do I practice activities that allow me to slow down?
- How often do I make time for relaxation?
- Do I make time to expand my awareness of the experiences of those around me?
- Do I feel compelled to be “doing” all the time, or have I learned to just “be” sometimes?
These are just a few questions that can help us know how we’re doing with our spiritual dimension of wellness. As we talked about earlier, Spiritual Wellness is probably the most personal dimension of wellness. That means that everyone’s answers to these questions will be different. But what if we realize we need to improve our spiritual dimension?
Some Ways to Improve Our Spiritual Wellness
If we find we need to improve, here are a few things we can do:
- Take the time to clarify values and guiding principles. When we become crystal clear on our values, beliefs, and the principles that will guide us, we’ve made huge strides toward good spiritual health.
- Pray and/or participate in other aspects of our religious beliefs. As I’ve often said, prayer is the one thing that enables me to get through anything I have to face, and spending time in other spiritual disciplines allows me to grow in my relationship with the Lord. For others, it may be participating in religious services or other religious practices.
- Spend time serving others. When we serve others in some capacity, we not only connect more with the world at large, we’re able to make personal connections with people. Although we start out to help them, we may end up with the even bigger blessing.
- Journal. Journaling helps us look within; to explore what’s really important to us. It can help us sort through our feelings and forge a path forward when we’re going through tough times.
- Meditate. As we talked about in 10 Ways to Manage Stress, some Christians find the idea of mindfulness meditation to be uncomfortable, or even feel it’s wrong. It has proven benefits for many people though. I personally don’t find anything wrong with using all the tools at our disposal, but I do find that for me, meditation on Scripture is more beneficial than mindfulness meditation. Whether we’re meditating on Scripture or doing Mindfulness Meditation, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.”
- Practice forgiveness. If we truly want to be spiritually well, we have to practice forgiveness. When we refuse to forgive others, we hurt ourselves much more than we hurt the person we can’t forgive. I don’t know who said it, but I once read that holding a grudge was like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We poison our own Spiritual Wellness when we hold onto our grudges.
- Spend time out in nature. The benefits of spending time out in nature are well-documented. Being surrounded by God’s beautiful creation can lift our spirits and help us feel more connected to the earth and everything on it.
These are just a few of the things we can do to improve our Spiritual Wellness, and as with anything else, what works for one person might not work as well for someone else. It may take a little trial and error to find what works best for you.
Spiritual Wellness is a key dimension of our overall wellness. It’s what helps us feel a sense of connection and find meaning and purpose in our lives. And because we have well-established values and principles, it’s easier to make decisions that benefit our overall wellbeing.
As is often the case with things of a more personal nature, I won’t ask my usual questions. However, I’d love to hear anything you’d like to share below!
Sharing is caring! If this helped you in any way, please share with your friends!
(1) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, https://www.samhsa.gov
(2) Spiritual Wellness, What Is Your Meaning and Purpose? https://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm/lifelines/september-2016/spiritual-wellness-what-is-your-meaning-and-purpose/
(3) University of New Hampshire, Spiritual Wellness, https://www.unh.edu/health/wellnessself-care/wellness-wheel/spiritual-wellness – Link no longer available
(4) How Does Spiritual Wellness Fit Into the Holistic Wellness Concept? https://eldercarealliance.org/blog/spiritual-wellness-holistic-wellness-concept/
(5) Meditation, A Fast, Simple Way to Reduce Stress, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858