There is a voice inside of you
that whispers all day long,
'I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.'
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
or wise man can decide
what's right for you - just listen to
the voice that speaks inside.
-Shel Silverstein (Falling Up, 1996)
What is Spiritual Wellness?
Spiritual wellness is connecting to something greater than yourself and following a set of values, morals, and beliefs to guide your actions and help to form meaningful habits. Habits can provide a sense of purpose and meaning; however, maintaining those habits has been especially challenging during the pandemic. Spiritual wellness is not a one-time accomplishment, but an ongoing process to balance your time, energy, and relationships. For many people, very little that has felt balanced during the last year.
Why is Spiritual Wellness important?
Spiritual wellness and the habits it helps to create and enforce have the potential to make your decisions and choices easier and to keep you grounded during periods of change. There are a number of biological benefits to incorporating strategies that support spiritual wellness. You are able to lower your blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, and boost concentration. By strengthening spiritual wellness, space is created for a number of social, emotional, and intellectual benefits as well. Contemplating your purpose helps put you in touch with your potential to create, affect change, proliferate good things. This practice has become even more important during the lockdowns and instability related to COVID-19.
The Route to Spiritual Wellness
Spiritual Wellness is an ever-evolving journey. You’ll often find yourself walking backward, perpendicular, and parallel to the direction you’d like to go. And every once in a while, right on track with your values and beliefs. There are a couple of steps you engage in to keep yourself on track as much as possible.
Explore your inner self/spiritual core. These are the deeper existential questions, like ‘who am I, what is my purpose, and what do I value most? To access these questions it helps to spend some intimate time with yourself. This can be in any way you enjoy: outside, journaling, taking a long drive, or even snacking on some Oreos (my favorite). There is no right or wrong way to sit and chat with yourself. Whatever feels most comfortable and accessible to you is best!
Reflection. While spending time with yourself, there are a few directions that can be helpful. If/when exploring your spiritual core feels a bit daunting, here are three lighter and meaningful reflection prompts to get in touch with some of your values.
Describe a time when you felt your life was filled with a sense of meaning or when you experience a sense of awe. What values were being acknowledged and honored?
Think of 3-6 people you admire or love most, why are they so important to you. What values do they embody?
Explore some of your more challenging interactions with yourself and others. What values are being neglected, ignored, or challenged in those conflicts?
Lastly, ask yourself ‘do my values guide my decisions and actions?’ Especially during COVID-19, old habits are being confronted and challenged. Does the life you’ve been living align with your values? Are there changes in your habits you’d like to make to access more spiritual wellness?
Analyze your patterns. It is important to observe and learn about your current habits and patterns. When you’re not aware of your habits, routines, impulses, and reactions, then you no longer control them. Look critically at the habits you have cultivated and explore your satisfaction with how you are living. Once you are able to identify and label your habits, you are able to either bolster those positive habits or implement new habits that can re-focus you in a more positive direction towards spiritual wellness. Your values can serve as a blueprint for effective decision-making and optimal functioning. By living your life congruent with your values, and being mindful of your energy level, you have the potential to make choices that boost your feelings of wellness. Below are a few questions you can use to analyze your current patterns. When looking at these choices, know that there are no right or wrong option. Be inquisitive, compassionate, and curious about yourself and how you feel. Take time to sit with these choices and see how they might be used to establish or bolster your habits.
Do you perform better in the mornings or the evenings?
Does work get done in a marathon or in a sprint to the finish?
When thinking about your finances, do you over or underspend?
For day to day things, do you like familiarity or novelty?
Are you introverted or extroverted? Which settings provide you with energy?
Do you like to have a plan or go with the flow?
Do feelings or facts guide your decision making?
Are working with details or ideas more enjoyable?
Tips for Spiritual Wellness
Have a powerful reason. Remind yourself regularly why these changes are important and your motivation for making the adjustment. Write, draw, vision board your way, and place it in a meaningful spot in your home, on your phone, or at your office.
Ask ‘what’ instead of ‘why’. This can look like shifting your mentality from ‘why can’t I follow through?’ or ‘why do I always get stuck at this point?’ to ‘what do I need to put in place to take the next step?’
When changing your mentality, stay objective. It can be easy to fall into old habits of negative self-talk. View the challenge as just that, a challenge, and not a personal failing on your part.
Keep your eyes on the future. You have made the choices you made in the past with the information and skills you had at that time. Look ahead in how you can change tomorrow for yourself.
Be empowered. You are capable. This is challenging and hard, but it is not complicated. It takes work and you have the power to turn a new leaf at any moment.
Learn your bologna coping patterns. Bologna coping patterns are the things you do when you are avoiding something. They could look like scrolling social media, eating, exercising, or getting into a conflict with a housemate. Not every bologna coping tool is detrimental at first, it is the turning away from our values and goals that cause issues. Don’t guilt yourself or start a loop of negative self-talk. Notice you are doing some bologna stuff, and turn back to a value you’re working on and step forward.
Remember, Jefferson Center’s Colorado Spirit team is here for you. Offering free and confidential support, we can help you with counseling tips and strategies to cope successfully and referrals to additional mental health resources. Call us if you need to talk at 720-731-4689.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call 1-844-493-8255 or visit our 24/7 crisis walk-in center at 4643 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.