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Journey to a Healthier You:
Spiritual Wellness: What Is Your Meaning and Purpose?
By Emily Smith
Our “Journey to a Healthier You” series kicked off this past January with a look at the differences between health and wellness. Over the last several months, we’ve looked at seven of the eight dimensions of wellness, which are covered in more detail on our Journey to a Healthier You page. This month, we examine spiritual wellness – often seen as the most personal dimension. Consider all of the reflection you’ve done up to this point as building towards the deepest level of self-reflection: exploring and answering the question “what is your meaning and purpose?”
Spiritual wellness is being connected to something greater than yourself and having a set of values, principles, morals and beliefs that provide a sense of purpose and meaning to life, then using those principles to guide your actions.
One Piece in a Larger Puzzle
Many of the behaviors associated with overall wellness are key components of spiritual wellness. Examples include volunteering, being positive and optimistic, contributing to society, connecting with others, feeling a sense of belonging and practicing self-care.
Finding meaning and purpose may be a lifelong process that evolves based on unique circumstances, individual experiences and global events. Along with the other dimensions of wellness, a person’s level of spiritual wellness often fluctuates throughout their life. It is natural to experience a variety of emotions along the path to spiritual wellness – both positive (hope, forgiveness, acceptance, joy) and negative (doubt, fear, disappointment, conflict).
Spiritual wellness has the power and capability to make our decisions and choices easier, ground us during periods of change and give us the resiliency to survive with grace and inner peace in the face of adversity. Having a spiritual element in our lives may even help us heal when suffering from a physical or mental condition.
Take a moment to assess your own spiritual wellness by asking yourself the following questions.
- What gives my life meaning and purpose?
- What gives me hope?
- How do I get through tough times? Where do I find comfort?
- Am I tolerant of other people’s views about life issues?
- Do I make attempts to expand my awareness of different ethnic, racial and religious groups?
- Do I make time for relaxation in my day?
- Do my values guide my decisions and actions?
Practice Spiritual Wellness
When striving to develop and practice your own spiritual wellness, it is best to find the technique and approach that works for you; similar to the other dimensions of wellness, there is no “one size fits all” approach.
Your journey to spiritual wellness may involve the following:
- Practicing meditation or yoga
- Praying or taking part in organized religion
- Spending quiet time alone pondering the meaning of life
- Building awareness through journaling
- Serving your community, spending time in nature, appreciating music and the arts
Future articles about spiritual wellness will examine how to determine your meaning or purpose and provide suggestions for activities that can help you build on or develop your spiritual wellness.
[Emily Smith is the Health Promotion Division’s Senior Benefit & Wellness Specialist.]