In my last post I touched upon the idea that having belief in yourself is key to turning your intentions into action. But sometimes it can be hard to look inwards. We often look for outside sources for support, validation, and purpose. In that case, does spirituality or religion play a role in our health and wellbeing?
Honestly…? It’s hard for me to say. As someone who has grown up without any kind of spirituality, and was often critical as a teenager of those who had religion, past-me would have probably said a big fat no! But as I have grown, I’m a little less sure.
Research out there at the moment is still very much theoretical in nature. Some argue that Spirituality and Spiritual Health is the “fundamental dimension of peoples’ overall health and well-being” (Fisher, pg. 17). While I would agree that experiencing spirituality can bring comfort, I would find it hard to agree with that sentiment.
There is obviously a distinction between religion and spirituality. People have done and said terrible things in the name of religion, and that should be acknowledged. But to have a connection with the wider world, the universe, God etc., in a way that uplifts you and gives you purpose, can only be a good thing… Right?
I have been exploring my own spirituality lately, finding a belief system that fits with my values. I think I have found something that works, and to be honest, it’s definitely given me a sense of comfort. But not in the sense of “I can default everything to this belief so I don’t have to do anything”, but more in the sense of the structure and drive I feel it can give me to act and be better.
Do I think it is a requirement to have religion or spiritual practice in order to be healthy? Certainly not.
However, I do think there is power in having a spiritual practice. Whether that is reading scripture, meditating, connecting with nature, praying to a higher power, etc.. Taking time out of your day to take stock of your connection between your body and mind, yourself with the people around you, and your soul (if you believe in such a thing) with the universe, is good for you.
If you do not have a faith of any kind, I still implore you to find a daily practice that allows you to achieve similar results. There is empirical evidence out there that shows a relationship between spirituality and quality of life (Sawatzky, 2002). Engaging in some form of spirituality, theistic or not, will help you. At the very least take time to practice a mindful approach to your day, and be conscious of your impact on your home, your community, and your planet.
For the Psychologists…
Fisher, J. (2011). The Four Domains Model: Connecting Spirituality, Health and Well-being. Religions, 2, 17-28.
Sawatzky, R. (2002). A meta-analysis of the relationship between Spirituality and Quality of Life. (Unpublished Masters Thesis). University of British Columbia, Canada.