Feeling connected to something greater than oneself is the idea of spiritual health. Having a set of morals, principles, values, and beliefs is also a part of spiritual health. Spiritual health is not necessarily based on religion or even a belief in God but those things can be a part of spiritual health for some people. But the essence of spiritual health really boils down to that feeling of connectedness, and for most people, whether they call it that or not, is actually an important part of being successful as a human being.

Having studied, and seen many first-hand, different world religions, and various spiritual traditions and even getting to know some atheists and agnostics over my lifetime, I’ve had a chance to ponder what spiritual health really is, and whether or not it is an important component of being human. Read on for some of my own and other’s perspectives on this question!

How Can Spiritual Health Not Be About Religion or God?

While, in general, The Sparkling Soul is a spiritual blog, and I’m a spiritual person, I think addressing this question first will help people to understand that talking about spiritual health, for me, is not about preaching. Spiritual health is not about converting to any specific religion, subscribing to any particular type of spirituality or even believing in any god, higher power, or even any type of creative force in the Universe. Spiritual health really talks about our own spirit, or whatever it is that animates us, and finding ways to connect that part of us to something outside of ourselves.

Some ways people can create a sense of spiritual health that does not have to do with religion or a higher power are by volunteering to help people in circumstances less fortunate than their own or simply finding ways to contribute to society, at large. Optimism and a sense of purpose in life are also a part of spiritual health. Having a sense of belonging in the world or in a community, connecting with others, and self-care practices are also all part of spiritual health.

Examples of Spiritual Health

So what, then, does spiritual health actually look like? What are some examples of cultivating spiritual health in the everyday world?

Of course, a belief in and participation in a specific religion can definitely be a part of one’s spiritual health. Not everyone believes religion is even a positive thing, but for people who believe devoutly in their religion, it can be the most nourishing part of their lives. Religion can provide community, camaraderie, friendships, and other important relationships to individuals. It can provide a sense of well-being, and something to rely on when things are not well. In America, we often think of religion mostly in terms of Christianity and Judaism, but worldwide (and in America, too), there are many religions that give many a sense of peace and purpose in their lives.

Outside of organized religion, one can have a general belief in a higher power. Some call this power God, others, the Universe, Creator, or Infinite Spirit. Truthfully, there are many names used around the world for this higher power, but generally, it is a belief that there is some creative or organizing force in the universe. Without creating a dogmatic structure of beliefs, many people practice something more nebulously called “spirituality.” A sense of spirituality can, like religious beliefs, bring a sense of comfort, calm, and peace to an individual. There are very often communities that have certain kinds of spiritual beliefs in common, and so people enhance their spiritual health through these communities.

Outside of spirituality and religion, there are some other examples of spiritual health:

  • Being in nature, connecting to the natural world
  • Gratitude practices – formal or informal, spending time acknowledging what one has to be grateful for
  • Doing meaningful work – whatever that may be to the individual – spending their time on something they find that they love or that feels important to then
  • Serving society or one’s community in some meaningful (the individual) way
  • Spending time working on personal growth – meditation, self-reflection, journaling, counseling, etc
  • Learning new things; academic, and or/creative pursuits

These are just some examples of what spiritual health might look like. As you can see, it really does boil down to finding some way to feel connected outside of yourself.

So, Why is Spiritual Health Important?

First of all, spiritual health is important to your overall wellness and health. We’ve known for a long time that our mental health affects all the other aspects of our physical health. Spiritual health is a part of our mental health. Depression and anxiety increase our feelings of being alone and can result in a loss of a sense of purpose. Working on maintaining our spiritual health can help us cultivate a sense of purpose and a sense of not being so alone. A long time ago, I heard someone say the phrase (when talking about anxiety), “when you get nervous, focus on service.” I think that’s a sweet way of saying, “stay connected to others.” Spend time thinking about and doing things outside of yourself, and it will increase your ability to cope with anxiety and depression. And that is what spiritual health is all about.

A strong sense of spiritual health can give resiliency, hope, compassion, and empathy. These are also all a part of emotional intelligence, which I discuss in greater detail here. Spiritual health and emotional intelligence contribute to a more fulfilling life, greater joy, happiness, and a sense of well-being. They contribute to creativity, resourcefulness, altruism, and the capacity to love.

Another important reason that spiritual health is important is that it has been shown that it helps patients diagnosed with difficult and life-altering illnesses. It helps them deal with diagnosis and treatment better. Keeping as much of a positive attitude as possible when these things happen can make treatments more effective and can contribute to longer life spans. Having a sense of spiritual health can also help during grieving periods and times of trouble for the same types of reasons.

Can I Create Better Spiritual Health?

Yes. Just like other components of our well-being, spiritual health can be consciously increased. Just like emotional intelligence, purposely doing things that increase our spiritual health can lead to happier relationships and a greater sense of self.

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