True wellness focuses on much more than just the physical. Holistic wellness considers the whole individual, including emotional, social, vocational, intellectual and environmental factors — along with physical well-being.
In many of the categories that constitute the holistic wellness concept, spirituality plays an important role. For some people, spirituality can refer to religion, but it also can take shape as personal growth that includes finding meaning in life, living by a code of personal ethics and creating joy for oneself and others. Spiritual wellness helps enhance the connection between the mind and the body.
Working Toward Spiritual Wellness
How do you know if you have achieved a sense of spiritual wellness — or that you are working toward it? Spiritually well individuals may:
- Spend time in solitude simply thinking or writing in a journal.
- Have clear ideas about their values and beliefs.
- Act in advocacy of the welfare of others.
- Forgive others and show compassion.
Even if you don’t spend time thinking about spirituality, it likely has an effect on your life. Most people seek a sense of meaning and the knowledge that they have a purpose, and individuals who don’t feel that they have the answers often seek spiritual wellness, even unknowingly.
In seeking wellness, many people overlook the importance of nurturing the spirit, in some cases because they simply do not know how. Just as the physical body requires movement to thrive, so the spirit needs practice and activity to give it a sense of purpose.
How Is Spirituality Good for You?
In addition to enhancing your overall sense of well-being and your understanding of your place in the world, spiritual wellness also may contribute to your physical health.
Research has found that contemplative practices, such as meditation, can encourage calmness and can boost concentration. Mindfulness practice also has been found to impact the physical body in a number of ways, including:
- Increasing gray matter density in the brain, which can lower pain sensitivity.
- Relieving stress.
- Reducing pain.
- Reducing anxiety and depression.
Meditation, prayer, yoga and other contemplative practices also can promote feelings of compassion and hope, along with your relaxation response, which can affect overall well-being.
Research also has found that people who engage in spiritual traditions may treat their bodies better and engage in healthier practices. Spiritual people are less likely to smoke or drink, for example, and they’re more likely to care for their bodies by wearing seat belts and taking vitamins.
How Can You Practice Spiritual Wellness?
If you are a religious person, you can follow your own religious customs to promote your spiritual life. However, there are many additional ways to engage in spiritual wellness practices.
Simply spending time in quiet contemplation or writing in a journal can promote your individual spirituality. You also can practice with others by participating in discussion groups, yoga classes and group meditation sessions. In addition, many people find spiritual meaning in helping others through volunteer efforts.
However you decide to pursue your personal spiritual wellness, your mind and body are sure to benefit.