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    Spirituality and Your Health

    Research studies link spiritual well-being to physical well-being

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    In all cultures and religions, people take care of their spiritual well-being in countless ways. In the most basic sense, spirituality is about connecting with what’s important to you in a way that uplifts or enriches your spirit.

    While there are many ways to describe it, most experts agree that spirituality can:

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    • Come equally from religious and non-religious experiences.
    • Include the need to find answers to questions about the meaning of life, suffering and death.
    • Refer to what you believe to be the ultimate meaning and value of your life.
    • Some people speak of the spiritual as something that is deeply moving or a feeling of being fully alive. Others call it the “transcendent” in their life.
    • For many people, spirituality is related to a higher power.

    There are some research studies linking spiritual well-being to physical well-being. Spiritual well-being can be a comfort and can give strength to face the challenges of life. Some people find that caring for the spirit seems to be as healing as the medicine itself.

    What does it mean to be okay?

    We all have different ideas about what it means to feel good. Try this thought exercise and focus on what wellness means to you. Think for a moment about what it means to not feel good. You have a health problem. Your mind or spirit may be troubled in some way. Any or all of these problems can make life difficult. And they can make you feel sick.

    Ask yourself, “In what way have I not felt good in my life? What bodily, mental or spiritual problems can make me feel bad?” Now think about what it means to feel good. It may have to do with the health and integrity of your body, mind, or spirit. It can be a combination of all three.

    Ask yourself, “How do I feel when I feel good? What balance of physical, mental, and spiritual needs is being met when I feel good?” What did you notice about this reflection exercise? When you feel completely good, is there also a spiritual part that helps you feel satisfied and involved?

    When you don’t feel well physically or when you have a high level of stress, how can spiritual well-being help you? Many people who are seriously ill or dying, for example, seek refuge in their spirituality to help them cope.

    What about your spiritual well-being?

    If you are wondering about your spiritual well-being, it may be helpful to ask yourself a few questions. This way you pay attention to things you may not think about every day. You can become more aware of what is important to you.

    Ask yourself, “How am I already taking care of my spirit? What is it that brings peace, purpose, connection, love, beauty, and meaning to my life?” There are other ways to see the role that spirituality plays in your life. For example, you can try to reflect on one or more of these questions. Pay attention to what strengthens your spirit.

    Notice other questions and ideas that come to mind:

    • What am I thankful for? How do I feel when I focus on being grateful?
    • What are my sources of strength?
    • What gives meaning to my life?
    • If I were fighting for my life, what would make it worth fighting for?
    • When do I feel fully alive?
    • Is it important for me to have a relationship with a higher or universal power? If so, why?
    • What life experiences are important to me?
    • Are there sacraments or rituals that are important to me?
    • Is a community of faith important to me right now?
    • How important is the community in general to me?
    • What can you do to improve your spiritual well-being?

    For some people, setting aside time for spiritual practice is a key part of their well-being. Some people take time to enjoy nature, meditate or pray. Others spend time with music, art or poetry, moving or quiet. Many people pay special attention to beauty, benevolence, gratitude, healing, or faith in a higher being.

    Is this a good time to think about adding something to your life to improve your spiritual well-being? Perhaps having a spiritual practice will help you connect in a new way with what is important to you.

    Determining what is spiritual for you is a very personal thing. It is something you define. But that doesn’t mean you have to explore spiritual questions and ideas on your own. You can share your ideas and learn from other people as you wish. And if you’re struggling, you can rely on a chaplain, counselor, or trusted member of your community for support.

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