Good mental, spiritual, and physical health are three essential things that help us live healthy and happy lives.
Believe it or not, many think our health depends only on physical and body function. However, new approaches like psychoneuroendocrinology (PNEC) have proven how emotions and thoughts affect our gut, immune system response, and the health of the endocrine glands.
When most people think of spiritual health, they think of religion. But there is a lot more to spiritual health than religion.
Spiritual health as defined by westpath.org: spirit is what cannot be defined as part of the body or as part of the mind. Body, mind, and spirit all have an effect on one another.
By improving your spiritual life, you can contribute to the healing process. Spirituality may not be able to cure you, but it can help you cope with the pain and difficulties that accompany illness.
Spiritual health is achieved when you feel at peace with life. It is when you can find hope and comfort even in the hardest times.
It can help to support you as you experience life completely. Spirituality is different for everyone.
Research shows that spirituality can benefit both the mind and the body. Whether someone is coping with cancer or clinical depression, spiritual exercise helps them increase acceptance, decrease negative emotions, find meaning, and deepen their relationships with others.
Spirituality can help address issues such as poor self-esteem, low confidence, lack of self control, and fear of daily tasks and challenges. For this reason, it can be a helpful extension to mental health treatment plans.
It can also simply be a way of keeping mental health strong.
Even people who do not practice religion can take comfort in spirituality since it is a prevalent concept among secular communities. Individuals who never learned to draw upon spiritual resources can do so easily.
There are eight ways to improve your spiritual health.
- Connect with your faith community. According to a Gallup study, 43% of Americans say they belong to a church or other religious body. These places of worship offer a sense of connection and encourage those with a mental health condition to have community connections. Find someone or an organization that shares your beliefs and thoughts and reconnect with them, whether online, over the phone, or in person. Reach out to a pastor or spiritual leader and find ways to connect with like-minded people within your faith community who can support and encourage you.
- Volunteer or help others. If you don’t have a faith community, that’s OK. Another way to feel connected to your spirituality and faith is to find a cause that matters to you and to give back. You can work at a food pantry, become a mentor or tutor, or foster an animal. Doing so can grow your community and connect with like-minded people. Helping others also gives you a sense of purpose and gratitude.
- Practice yoga. You don’t have to be a Yogi to gain the spiritual benefits of the practice. Yoga is for everyone at any level. Besides strengthening and stretching your body, it can help your mind and spirit by reducing symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety.
- Learn to meditate. Like yoga, you don’t need to be an expert meditator. Meditation is one of the easiest practices to maintain because it requires little time. Some people think you must sit and be quiet, but that’s not true. You can walk and meditate, being mindful of how your feet feel on the ground or the details of your surroundings. Just slowing your body down can help slow your brain down.
- Keep a journal. Writing can help you process your emotions, increase your awareness, and give you a non-judgmental space to express your feelings in the moment. Write down your worries and fears, and start a daily gratitude journal with prompts.
- Spend time in nature. Whether you live in the mountains, the desert, or near the beach, spending time in nature can boost your spiritual health. You can’t help but disconnect from your phone, day, and troubles. Even just a few minutes of watching the birds, the trees swaying in the wind, or the crashing waves on the shoreline can be therapeutic.
- Focus on your hobbies. Find things you enjoy, whether knitting, coloring, cooking, playing a sport, or working out. Focusing on things you enjoy can bring back a sense of purpose and keep you focused in the moment, even just for a little bit.
- Speak with a chaplain or someone you trust. If you’re struggling to connect with your spiritual side or your mental health, reach out to someone specially trained or someone you trust who can help.