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  • Writer's pictureAngela Belcher

Spiritual Wellness




Understanding Spirituality: Beyond Religion and Into Daily Life

Spirituality encompasses religion and extends to our interactions with the people around us: our family, friends, coworkers, customers, neighbors, and even strangers. It governs how we treat people and what we value. It includes whether we believe in a higher power and whether we feel connected to a greater purpose.


Bozek et al. (2020) found that spirituality is directly associated with psychological well-being. McKim (2013) defined spirituality as “how people ought to live, what is important in human life, how we ought to treat others, and what we owe others.” The American Psychological Association (APA) (2023) further describes spirituality as a sensitivity to “things of the spirit,” a concern for God, which may or may not include practicing a religion.


The Benefits of Spirituality and Religiousness

In 2018, Luciano Vitorino conducted a study that showed individuals with high levels of spirituality and religiousness had better psychological and social relationships, optimism, and happiness than those with either spirituality or religiousness alone or neither. He explains that religiousness and spirituality help a person deal with stressful situations such as fear, anguish, sadness, fury, and anger. Those who practice both spirituality and religiousness also have a better quality of life and fewer occurrences of mental health impairment. Vitorino also found that participants have strong community ties within their church or organization; they are often heavily involved within their community by offering assistance and recreation.


Understanding Spiritual Stress and Dysfunction

Spiritual stress occurs when we are conflicted about our beliefs and values. This conflict can arise after a sudden loss, traumatic news or event, or extended hard times. Spiritual stress can also come from pressure from peers, coworkers, family, and others who have different value systems, especially when those values are forced onto others.

Spiritual dysfunction is an extreme disruption in someone’s belief or value system. When a person’s spiritual stress grows so much that they are “no longer able to find meaning, peace, comfort, strength, or connection in life,” the stress level has crossed into serious territory that must be handled carefully (Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, 2013).


The Importance of Addressing Spirituality in Well-being

Spirituality plays a crucial role in our overall well-being. It influences how we navigate our relationships, our sense of purpose, and our response to life's challenges. Embracing and nurturing our spiritual side can lead to improved psychological health, stronger social connections, and a more optimistic outlook on life.


Conclusion

Incorporating spirituality into our daily lives can provide a strong foundation for handling stress and maintaining mental health. By understanding and embracing our spiritual beliefs and values, we can foster a sense of peace and purpose, enhancing our overall well-being. Whether through religious practices or personal spiritual exploration, acknowledging and nurturing our spiritual side is essential for a balanced and fulfilling life.

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