The next blog post in my Building Healthy Lifestyle series is about spirituality and how spirituality is linked to health and wellness.
The first thing I’d like to highlight before I dive in is that spirituality is so personal and unique to the individual, their background, cultural beliefs and the season of life they are in, and what they need their spirituality to represent at that moment in time. And so, it seems only fitting that I start this conversation by sharing a little about what spirituality is for me.
For me, spirituality is about my relationship with myself, my inner world, and how I express that outwardly through my creativity, my relationships, my work, my community, and my world. It’s about knowing my values and using those as a compass for decision-making. When I am living in alignment with these fundamentals, I feel alive, I have vitality and I can connect to the feeling in everything. I move with the flow, with ease and grace.
For a lot of people, spirituality is entwined and closely interlinked with health and wellness. Many people are turning to new-age spiritual practices to better their health, particularly their mental health.
This is particularly important in our current landscape with the world on the other side of Covid lockdowns and the intensity of the last few years. Mental health has become a big and important conversation and so it seems only fitting that we talk about all the ways that we can hack our mental health and wellbeing, spirituality being one of those ways.
Spirituality has grown in popularity over the last decade. With health, wellness and spirituality becoming a more common, well-known and go to way of becoming more in touch and connected with ourselves and the world around us.
What actually is Spirituality?
I think the best place to start this conversation is to explore what spirituality actually is?!
Often, the practice of spirituality is commonly misunderstood. Many of us confuse spirituality with religious beliefs.
This brings about pre-existing ideas and beliefs about the impact of religion on discussions about spirituality. Whilst spirituality may incorporate aspects of religion, spirituality is a broader concept. It’s important to emphasise that it’s possible to be spiritual without necessarily being part of organised religion.
There are some differences between the two that could change the way we understand spirituality and its benefits for our health and wellbeing.
Religion is a specific set of organised ideologies and practices usually shared amongst a community or group.
Whereas, spirituality is an individual practice that is about finding a sense of peace and purpose. It is about the process of developing beliefs around the meaning of life and the connections we create with others.
Spirituality is a great way to find stillness and peace in our busy lives. Spirituality is about connecting to ourselves and creating meaning and purpose in our lives. It is also about discovering a connection to something bigger than ourselves. It is a way of understanding that our lives have greater value than simply what we do every day.
There are many ways in which people choose to express their spirituality. Some choose to practice it through yoga and meditation. For others, spirituality is linked to an association with a church, temple, mosque or synagogue. Some of us simply pray or find comfort in a personal relationship with God or a higher power. Developing a connection to the outdoors and artistic expression is another way people connect to their spirituality.
Spirituality and Health and Wellbeing
So, how is it linked to our health and wellbeing?
When we find a connection to our spirituality and ourselves, we ultimately create more positive emotions in our life. We can experience more peace, gratitude, acceptance, awe, contentment, purpose, patience, understanding, authenticity, truth, and honesty.
We are able to disconnect from the busyness of our lives and find stillness.
These practices have incredible effects on our emotional health and wellbeing. We experience positive emotions more regularly. We cultivate a positive state of mind. We give ourselves an opportunity to de-stress and relax.
When we connect to our spirituality we also find places to connect with other like-minded individuals. We build meaningful relationships and this improves our social health and wellbeing. We come back to our workplace, our families, and our friends offering our best selves.
Our spirituality becomes the foundation of our understanding of the world, often guiding and informing our choices about how we spend our time.