Tapping into Your Spirituality Can Ease Your Stress
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According to Dr. Roberta Lee, author of The SuperStress Solution, people who regularly attend spiritual services increase their lifespans approximately 29% (Borchard, 2014). So, what exactly is spirituality? Well, that depends on who is defining it. In other words, the concept of spirituality has many different meanings. For some, it is the gateway to peace and freedom, while for others it provides a purpose for living. Contrary to popular belief, spirituality is not connected to a specific religion or religious belief, rather it stems from your personal connection with the world around you. Spirituality promotes self-awareness and personal development, so that you can better understand your purpose in life.
Spiritual practices typically consist of meditation, prayer, religious observances, and/or a belief in a higher power, but it can also involve nature, art, music, dance, food, and poetry. Ultimately, spirituality is unique to every individual. One of the advantages of having a spiritual connection with a higher power, and the world around you is that it can actually ease your stress. Moreover, according to Borchard (2014), spirituality encourages peace, tolerance, and forgiveness, which is essential for reducing tension and stress. It can also provide you with the skills needed to effectively combat stressful, challenging, and/or difficult situations. If you are wondering how tapping into your spirituality can ease your stress, you have come to the right place. This article will explore the relationship between spirituality and stress-relief.
Listed below are the benefits of using spirituality to ease stress:
Spirituality can provide you with a sense of purpose. In other words, tapping into your spirituality can help you discover your purpose for living (i.e. meaning of life). A spiritual self-awareness, and/or a deep connection with a higher power, and/or the world around you can help you better handle stressful situations. Moreover, with a strong spiritual connection, you focus less on what is “going wrong in your life,” and more on “what is going right.”
Spirituality can provide you with a sense of connection. When you are spiritually connected to “something,” you feel less alone in the world, even when you are alone physically. In other words, you feel as if you are a part of something bigger than yourself. It resembles the old saying, “You can be surrounded by hundreds of people, yet still feel alone.” Spirituality reminds you that you are never alone, which can give you peace during your most challenging times.
Tapping into your spirituality can improve your mental health and ease your stress by helping you relinquish control of your issues, concerns, and/or problems. In other words, spirituality reminds you that you cannot control everything that happens in your life. You do not have the power to determine what direction your life will ultimately take. You can take steps to achieve your goals, but life has a way of throwing curve balls that you have no control over. Spirituality teaches you that you are not responsible for things outside of your control. According to Dr. Richard Zinbarg, clinical psychologist (2010), releasing control reduces the stress, tension, uncertainty, and anxiety in your life.
When you are experiencing a crisis, loss, betrayal, illness, and/or trauma, spirituality can provide the unconditional support that you desperately need. Regardless of whether you seek spiritual support from a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, friends, family or nature, this connection will provide you with a sense of belonging and acceptance. It will also help you build healthy, strong relationships with others, which in turn will help ease your stress.
Lastly, believe it or not, spirituality can improve your emotional and physical health. According to the Mayo Clinic (2013), people, who view themselves at spiritual, tend to be more equip at managing stress, problem-solving, and recovering from illnesses and/or addictions more quickly. It is not uncommon to turn to a higher power when you are sick and/or disabled. It definitely helps to know that you are not alone in your struggles. It also helps to know that there is “something” or “someone” bigger than you. In fact, knowing that you are not responsible for your illness or disability can be a great relief. It can provide comfort and peace when you are battling cancer, or experiencing the devastating effects of life-altering medical conditions like: Alzheimer’s disease, lupus or multiple sclerosis.
Tapping into Your Spirituality
So, how can I tap into my spirituality? Well, forming a spiritual connection takes effort, time, and patience. It is a process of self-discovery and self-awareness. Thankfully, there are questions that you can ask yourself to define your values, and tap into your spirituality. These questions are listed below:
What makes a relationship valuable?
What values do you hold dear to your heart? In other words, what is important to you?
What do you believe in?
What brings you joy?
Do you have a strong support system? If so, how is it enriching your life?
What inspires you, and gives you hope?
What are you most proud of (i.e. accomplishments, achievements, acts, etc.)?
What do you want for yourself (i.e. goals)?
The answers to these questions will help you identify your most important people, experiences, values and beliefs, so that you can tap into your spirituality. Armed with this information, you will be able to better handle stresses, strengthen your relationships, learn more about yourself, and develop into a person that is self-confident and spiritually connected to the world around him or her.
Reducing Stress by Nurturing Your Spirituality
Spirituality ultimately involves “connecting” with your inner self. In addition, self-reflection plays a significant role in nurturing your spirituality. If you want to know how to reduce your stress by nurturing your spirituality, try the following suggestions:
Learn how to relax. Prayer, meditation, and stress management techniques can reduce your anxiety, reduce your stress, improve your mental health, and help you concentrate.
Write your feelings down. Journaling can help you express yourself in a safe place. In other words, journaling allows you to document your concerns, issues, problems, achievements and accomplishments. It also allows you to look back on previous situations (i.e. how you reacted, how you could have reacted, and how you should have reacted), so that you can respond in a more positive way in the future.
Turn to a trusted confidant. Talk to a friend or family member about your situation. This person may be able to help you identify what is really “going on with you.” In other words, sometimes the person closest to you is better at recognizing when you have a problem than you are! This person may be able to offer valuable suggestions that can resolve your problem, and ease your stress.
Become inspired. In other words, inspirational/spiritual stories can teach you different perspectives, and positive ways of handling stressful situations.
- Dr. R. Y. Langham
I have long practiced spirituality, mainly within a context of my own personal religious belief system. Spirituality provides me with a sense of comfort, safety, acceptance, and hope. However, when I have displayed spirituality in a more public forum or way, I have, on occasion, had my feelings hurt by the lack of acceptance or tolerance by others. When this has occurred my stress levels have risen rather than diminishing.
With that in mind, I believe that our spirituality must first be personal. I am not advocating a hidden version or practice of our spirituality. I am suggesting that our spirituality is so important and individualized, that we should have our greatest moments of spirituality learned and then expressed on a personal level. Upon our understanding and self-acceptance of our spirituality, only then will we be better equipped and more informed to seek a like-minded support group, be it family, friends, peer support groups, or a religious body.
I firmly hold to my personal spirituality to traverse the trials of each day that I live. I hope to have personal relationships with people who spiritually align with me. However, I also long to gather with a group of like-minded people on a weekly basis to have a "pep rally" before facing another week of this life and the stresses of this life. That pep rally will encourage my daily spiritual walk until I gather with my like-minded group to have another pep rally and refill my spiritual tank.
Borchard, T. (2014). Spirituality and prayer relieve stress. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/21/spirituality-and-prayer-relieve-stress/
Mayo Clinic. (2013). Spirituality and stress relief: Make the connection. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044464?pg=1
Zinbarg, R. (2010). Sacred anxiety: Anxiety as an emblem of spirituality. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cultivating- courage/201012/sacred-anxiety-anxiety-emblem-spirituality