Body and mind are often talked about individually, leading to the common misconception that physical health and spirituality are disconnected. All of the components that make you work alongside one another. Your health, diet, and exercise are not isolated from your relationships, hobbies, or spirituality. When everything works together, you’ll benefit from a balanced life.
How to Use Spirituality to Create a Well-Balanced Life
Spirituality isn’t well-defined, at least in the broad sense. Everyone has their own concept of spirituality. Some people may feel spiritual because they relate closely to their religion or feel there’s a higher power. Other people may find spirituality through living a healthy lifestyle — when feeling in tune with their body, they also feel in tune with the world, other people, and their own goals.
1. Spirituality and Wellness
Spirituality has a big impact on emotional health. As such, many spiritual practices are also practices used for improving emotional well-being. When you look for meaningful connections with the world around you or with something that’s bigger than yourself, beneficial emotions follow, like contentment, gratitude, and peace.
Emotional health helps a person create a positive state of mind, leading to greater mental well-being.
The connection between your mind, spirit, and body is complex. Emotional and mental health can influence physical health, resulting in debilitating conditions. Further, when an individual’s physical health suffers, they are at an increased risk of developing mental health issues. This can lead to a spiral that can result in the development of major conditions that can seriously affect a person’s life.
Today, there’s pressure on healthcare providers to consider the holistic well-being of patients in order to ensure optimal health outcomes.
2. Spirituality and a Healthy Body
In many ways, medical advice and treatments go back to basics: exercise, nutrition, sleep, lowering stress, raising happiness, etc. Understanding how something as basic as going for a run can impact your spirituality (or vice versa) is important. Your spirituality can be impacted by whether or not you exercise and the type of exercise you do, as well as the foods you eat. Health providers are incorporating these basics into holistic treatment plans.
Exercising increases endorphins, which improve your mood. This makes it easier to make wise decisions and focus on your goals. When you feel healthier and happier, you’re more likely to engage with the spiritual practices you enjoy. Certain types of exercise even have spirituality built right in, such as group classes with instructors who encourage you to find your deeper purpose.
Intuitive eating is a way to create a healthy relationship with food. Its driving characteristics include feeding your body when you feel hungry (instead of depriving yourself as you would when dieting); making peace with the fact that there’s no such thing as “good” food or “bad” food; feeling satisfied by eating what you want and stopping when you feel full; and honoring your emotions, negative or positive, without the use of food.
3. Spirituality in Medical Care
Today, patients often choose to not follow the directions of their medical provider due to their own preferences or beliefs. In response, medical organizations that believe in patient-centered care have started to take a collaborative approach to treatment. Patients are encouraged to add their interests and spiritual beliefs or practices into treatment.
Spirituality assessments are handled by nurses to determine what the patient needs and will benefit from. According to Wake Forest University, “Holistic counselors focus on the relationship between mind, body and spirit, and prescribe treatment plans based on the analysis that issues in one area of a person’s life can lead to concerns in other areas.” By forming mutual understanding, providers are able to provide better care for their patients.
4. Spirituality and Addiction Treatment
So many of the components of spirituality in our everyday lives have a place in combating addiction:
- Speaking truthfully and honestly about your past.
- Understanding where anger comes from and how you can handle it in a healthy way.
- Being easy on yourself and forgiving yourself for your past mistakes — and no longer judging yourself or others.
- Feeling compassion for yourself as well as for the people in your life who you may have hurt.
Spirituality and mental health as they relate to physical health also play a role in treating addiction. Post-rehab wellness plans often include an assortment of wellness habits and activities, such as exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep. Taking time alone to think and reflect is also important. Activities like journaling, painting, and yoga are encouraged, all of which may relate to an individual’s spirituality.
Part of spirituality is having enough hope and trust that you can make peace with the fact that you don’t know the outcome. This is true in everything, from starting a new workout regime to battling a disease. Lao Tzu said, “Not-knowing is true knowledge. Presuming to know is a disease. First, realize that you are sick; then you can move toward health. The Master is her own physician. She has healed herself of all knowing. Thus she is truly whole.”
For many people, spirituality means trusting in themselves and their decisions — and believing that they’ll lead themselves to where they’re supposed to go.