Sun breaking through the clouds with text overlay: What Is Spiritual Wellness?

What Is Spiritual Wellness?

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 Wellness for Every Body, Spiritual Wellness is one of the eight dimensions of wellness we looked at on our wellness wheel. 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.

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 of 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 Spirituality 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?
  • Am I tolerant of others’ views?
  • 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?

Sunset over the hills with text overlay: "Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic; it is gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life." ~Rick Warren

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. 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 spirits 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.

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!

Blessings,

~Terri

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Sources:

(1) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 

(2) https://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm/lifelines/september-2016/spiritual-wellness-what-is-your-meaning-and-purpose/

(3) https://www.unh.edu/health/wellnessself-care/wellness-wheel/spiritual-wellness

(4) https://eldercarealliance.org/blog/spiritual-wellness-holistic-wellness-concept/

(5) https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

6 comments

  1. Terri, a very clear and well-written post on a topic so incredibly important as it’s one—on my personal experience—that can actually change the trajectory of our life. Of course—as you have well pointed out several times in many posts—being able to effectively balance every dimension of wellness is essential to living an enriched, stable, and full life, and certainly—as you have also pointed out—every dimension also impacts and influences the quality of our lives ~ positively when we find and nurture an effective balance, and negatively when we fail to do so. I can’t tell you how incredibly—and eternally—indebted I am to you for helping me to find and maintain that balance. For me, however, it is the spiritual dimension which completely changed—as you well know—the very trajectory of my life; getting the spiritual dimension right was the essential catalyst necessary to direct my getting—with your help—the other seven dimensions properly aligned, because being “crystal clear” on my values, principles, and beliefs has made all the difference. Excellent post!

    1. Thank you so much Honey! It’s been such a privilege to see how you’ve grown over the years. We both had so much to learn when we first got married, but as you said, getting the spiritual dimension of our wellness figured out helped us align all the other aspects of both our individual and relational wellness. It has definitely impacted every decision we’ve made together over the years. Here’s to moving even further along on our path to overall wellness together! I love you Baby!

  2. A really interesting aspect of wellness to cover, Terri. I used to be more spiritual in my teens. I felt a lot more connected, a lot deeper, more in tune and with a sense of meaning and purpose. These days not so much, and initially I’d say perhaps not at all. But the way you break down spiritual wellness makes me think twice about what I actually think it is. You’re encompassing things like meaning and purpose, along with our morals and principles (definitely have those), tolerance, empathy, all the things that form part of who we are. For the last point though, I definitely have that need for doing and productivity, and I know I need to work on that.

    This has definitely opened up my view of spiritual wellness, it’s given me a new perspective on this dimension that I thought was pretty empty for me but which actually isn’t. Fascinating post! xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I’m so glad you were able to rethink how you’re doing with Spiritual Wellness. I found all the different facets of Spiritual Wellness interesting. It’s wonderful that you were able to see that you’re in better shape spiritually than you thought. Your comment actually made me tear up a little, because when I see that someone starts to feel better about some aspect of their wellness, it reminds me that that’s why I do this. I know what you mean about the productivity thing – I’m guilty of the same thing. That one’s a hard nut to crack, I’m afraid… Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

  3. Another stellar post from you, Terri. I love reading your blog and always come away with an “aha moment” or some form of enlightenment. It’s refreshing to me when you meet someone who helps you think deeper on topics or things going on in our lives. You are a pro at that, my friend!

    Each and every one of these points are perfectly made. It’s true, spiritual wellness is a very personal topic and it does mean something different for everyone. Our brains are wired so uniquely that what speaks to you may not move me in the least or vice versa. To me, that’s a beautiful reality of the joy in God’s creation!

    This line pulled out of the quote from University of New Hampshire really spoke to me: “A strong spirit helps us to survive and thrive with grace, even in the face of difficulty.” — Yes! How true that is! The month of October and beginning of November were the perfect testament to this in my own life. Honestly, without the anchor of the love of Christ in my life – I would have not made it through. Our spirit through Holy Spirit breathes hope into our lives when all of our circumstances say there should be no hope left. My goodness — where would we be?

    I also love how you incorporate purpose and simply “being” sometimes. That last one is a challenge for so many of us, I believe. We’ve been told for so long that our value is in “doing.” In reality, just like the story of Mary and Martha, our true value is in simply being….loved. ❤ I hope you know that you are loved & deeply appreciated!

    1. Oh Holly, you are far too kind! I’m so sorry that you’ve been through such a difficult time. I’m so glad you had your anchor in Christ to hold on to. I often say that’s the only way I get through anything I have to face. Having that hope and knowing we can turn to the Lord with anything – grief, guilt, shame, joy….. Whatever it is, He can handle it. I agree with you that “being” is difficult for so many of us. Our society really does place so much emphasis on productivity determining our worth. That makes it easy to fall into the trap of feeling we always have to be “doing” in order to have value. I hope you also know how much you are loved and appreciated sweet friend! Sending you a great big hug!

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